many people the quality of liveliness feels the most helpful. And whether
it is an Irish jig or lively classical or spirited jazz, the talented
harpers bring a needed lift for the spirits as this patient affirms:
"Your music is so lively, so... springy! It has
really lifted my spirits. Thank you so much for being here." (Barbary Grant)
When music was played for patients who underwent a bone marrow transplant,
those patients reported lower levels of pain and nausea. It was thought as
well, that when music is played in this setting, it may even play a role
in quickening the pace at which patients' new marrow starts producing
blood cells, according to a pilot study to be published in 2004 in
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Rickey, Tom. 2003.
"Music therapy strikes a chord with cancer patients,"
press release. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Medical
Center, 29 July. Quoted on Bedside Harp� website. Briggs, T. (2003). Live harp music reduces
anxiety of patients hospitalized with cancer. The Harp Therapy Journal, 1,
4, 15. [United Hospital, St. Paul, MN: Patients who received a
30-minute live harp music session experienced anxiety reduction, and
decreased respiratory and heart rates as compared to a control group.
Sample: 61 patients with cancer.] Quoted on VAHT (Vibro-Acoustic Harp
Therapy) website. Williams, S. (2006). Harp beat affects heartbeat. The
Harp Therapy Journal, 11(1), 1,12. [Carle Heart Ctr., Urbana,
IL: Live harp music during cardiac electrophysiology studies decreased
sinus node rate during music intervention in 14 subjects, who were
consciously sedated. Effects lasted at least five minutes after
intervention, and ectopy stopped as well. Chief of cardiac
electrophysiology, Dr. Abraham Kocheril said, "the effects of music were
above and beyond any expected changes. The findings support Kocheril's
hypothesis that live harp music decreases sympathetic tone and also
suggests that there may be augmented parasympathetic tone." The study is
ongoing.] Quoted on VAHT (Vibro-Acoustic Harp Therapy) website.
Dallas-Feeney, S. (2004). Pilot study demonstrates positive effects of
vibroacoustic harp therapy on heart rate variability. The Harp Therapy
Journal, 9(1), 1,4,6-7,9. [in a pilot study of 10 subjects who received 15
minutes of VAHT, all reported some subjective decrease in pain/tension on
a VAS at the end of the study. The average heart rate variability was
assessed and shown to improve in all patients. The actual VAHT session
period yielded the greatest improvement in the subject's heart rate
entrainment, compared to pre and post measures.] Quoted on VAHT (Vibro-Acoustic
Harp Therapy) website.
REFERENCES -- Even
when patients are simply listening to music, while seated, lying in bed or
on a gurney, measurable benefits can take place. A study in Pennsylvania
indicates that 30 minutes of music can result in a 20 percent increase in
IgA -- a hormone that boosts the immune system. The effect of music is
similar to the effect of 20 mg of valium in terms of relaxation. Brannaf and Carl Charnels. 1996.
"Information about research and study on
easy listening music." Wilkes University.
www.harplandmusic.com Quoted on Bedside Harp� (Edie Elkan, winner of SAH Blair L. Sadler
International Healing Arts Competition 2005)
GRANT, DOUBLE-DUTY AT THE CANCER CENTER
Grant is a multi-talented musician who performs both as a Hospital
musician and regular performer in the Ambient Piano Series. As a Harper
and Pianist at the Cancer Center, we had some questions regarding her
experience playing both instruments here and how they effected listeners.
you interested in playing music in a Hospital environment?
love to say that I was called to this work but until a few years ago I
didn't even know it existed! I happened to be in the right place at the
right time when the Music Director emailed me with an invitation to apply
for a position as hospital musician. I literally jumped at the opportunity
to play music at Stanford. I had already been playing at El Camino
Hospital in Mountain View and had come to love the look of delighted
wonder visitors got at the unexpected appearance of a harp on the units.
a harper and pianist, do you find patients and visitors responding more to
one instrument than the other, or in different ways?
Irish harp is a bit more intimate -- and
certainly more portable -- than
the piano. In the Infusion Treatment Area I am able to play just a few
feet away from the patients receiving treatment. I can immediately
see how the music is affecting them and can engage in conversation if they
like. I'm able to forge wonderful one-on-one relationships. The piano,
on the other hand, makes a terrific first impression as one enters the
lobby. It is a more public forum, which is gratifying to me as a
performer. I get to set the mood for the entire building.
is the most impactful comment or event you have experienced while
performing in the Cancer Center?
there are many. My favorite comments come from visitors who tell me how
the music transforms their state of mind and/or spirit. They arrive at the
Cancer Center practically crippled with worry and stress but find that the
music helps them to "unclench"... actually reminds them to breathe.
One woman told me that the presence of a live musician let her know
that the Cancer Center really cares about her. She credits it with giving
her the courage to go in to her scary doctor's appointment.
do you find to be the most challenging aspect of playing in the Cancer
the beautiful trappings, the Cancer Center remains a busy workplace. As a
performer, it can be difficult to play around the distractions: the
telephones, televisions, traffic noise, intercom announcements, but
remember why I'm here and how important it is to keep focused for my
is the most satisfying aspect of playing in the Cancer Center?
adore Classical music, but in college my experience seemed to be about
impressing the audience. In the Cancer Center, my music really
touches people's hearts. This is so much more
gratifying -- to know that by making music,
which is happily my favorite thing to do -- I can
turn someone's day around.
kind of effects do you notice in the patients and visitors after hearing
I were to list all the wonderful adjectives patients use to describe my
music, the overwhelming favorite would be "soothing." Sometimes
in the ICU units in the hospital I can actually watch a patient's blood
pressure and respiration rate slow as I play. Unlike a concert performer,
I am quite happy to put my listeners to sleep.
is a lot of interest in the healing powers of music right now. Medical
experts in many fields are gathering evidence to quantify music's
physical and emotional effects. What I see is that music opens a window to
the spirit. I can't overstate the joy of offering this gift to patients
in the Cancer Center. I am so very grateful to the generous donors who
afford me the opportunity to do this work. It is an honor.