Utah Theapeutic harp Network Meeting of 8-18-2020 via Zoom
Attendees: (from L to R, Top to Bottom)Kate Dougherty, Heidi Jaeger, Angela Scothern, Laurel Wright-Fiehry, Cris Watts, Pam Archbold, Peggy Cann, Catharine DeLong, Cyndi Bowen, Kristen Rogers-Iverson (not pictured).
We did not meet in July due to everybody being busy or out of town.
Introductions of Members and welcome to Catharine, our newest member. Some highlights: Kate and Peggy took a zoom seminar from Dr. Alice Cash who is promoting her Healing Music Enterprises program. It is all recorded music she sells to hospitals. Chris is still playing for home bound hospice patients 2 days a week. Heidi is playing for a hospice patient 2 times a month, Peggy played for two weddings of family members which she will talk about later, and sang with a mask on for a hospice patient. Kristen is spending her time playing the viola these days, Cindy is getting ready for school to start tomorrow where she teaches music, among all her other jobs and activities and will graduate tonight from two programs she has been working on.
Catherine told us about her journey as a harpist starting at age 11, and graduate of the Chalice of Repose (2013) as well as MTAI program (2019). After graduation she moved to New York and worked for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York as well as a couple of hospitals including Bellevue. She promised to tell us more about her Bellevue experience at our next gathering. She also attended One Spirit Interfaith Alliance https://www.1spirit.org/ where she became an ordained minister. Catharine has moved back to Salt Lake City due to the Corona Virus preventing her from seeing patients for now in New York. We are so happy to welcome her to our Therapeutic Harp group.
Peggy shared her technique for memorizing music fast which she had to do recently for two different weddings. Her son married July 11 and she drove down to Arizona to play for his wedding. The happy couple wanted “Memories” played. Peggy was able to listen to it on Youtube and figure out the melody on the harp which she played for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4xhbiJ605o
To demonstrate how to break a song down into it’s parts for easier memorization, Peggy shared a song with us called “Prospect” that has been used for several traditional hymns. She encouraged us all to pick up our harps and play along with her while she broke down the song into the A part, the B part and talked about how to remember the chord progression.
Peggy listened to it and learned it in 3 days. (Peggy has a phenomenal ear for music). Peggy was able to break it down to the A part and the B part which pleased the bride who approved Peggy’s arrangement.
Pam took two zoom courses over the last two months: One from Christine Tourin on how to record videos and use of Garage Band. The second one was Harp Mastery Four Weeks to Finger Freedom by Anne Sullivan. More information on this course can be found at Harpmastery.com
Final Notes : Catharine had mentioned that the MTIA group was preparing to begin offering bedside Music Thanatology for patients remotely using Zoom. Catharine walked us through how to improve the sound quality on Zoom when playing harps for patients:
To start, on the Zoom screen bottom left hand corner click on the up arrow^ Then click on Audio Setting then Advanced. This should bring you to the following screen where you click on Audio and check the box to the left to “Enable Original Sound”. The next two boxes should be disabled and the last box should be marked Auto. If this is not clear even with the screen shot below, there are Youtube videos to help clarify the directions.
No date was picked for our next gathering but Peggy recommended we all listen to Rachael Naomi Remen poems on Youtube and she may read one. Catharine will tell us more about playing for patients at Bellvue Hospital in New York. If any of you have something you would like to present please let me know and I’ll add it to the agenda.
It was so good to gather with you all virtually today and I know we all look forward to when we can gather together in person once again.
Attending: Pam, Keri, Heidi, Kate, Laurel, Angela, Cyndi, Peggy, Kristen
CHECKIN: WHAT IS EVERYBODY DOING?
Peggy played on the harp for us one of her son’s favorite pieces: Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone. Both Peggy’s son and husband are not well right now.
2. Heid reported she had been accepted into the St. Mark’s Clinical Pastoral Education program as a Chaplain Intern starting in September.
3. Keri is now playing with an orchestra and they are working on Les Mis. She also completed a hymn arranging class and is creating an arrangement of For the Beauty of the Earth and God is Love medley for harp and choir.
4. Laurel is taking wire harp lessons and workshops.
5. Angela is teaching violin, planning on going to the MHTP conference this week, working on her harp technique and taking lessons. She took a recording course through Coursera
6. Pam is taking a sabbatical from the harp for now.
7. Cyndi is working on her therapeutic harp certification and several other programs as well as working full time.
8. Kristen is focused on playing her violin and viola
II. INFORMATION ON AUDACITY. KATE DOUGHERTY’S NOTES FOLLOW
Useful Audacity Feature: Noise Reduction
Some therapeutic musicians want to record their music. A powerful free program like Audacity can improve the quality of an imported waveform. Removing noise is a quick and easy enhancement.
Check out YouTube for popular videos demonstrating Audacity in all its maddening, complex glory. Also Google Recording the Harp for how to position microphones and ways to improve the sound environment.
Choose Audacity for Windows
Audacity for macOS
Once installed, Chose Language.
An easy useful feature of Audacity is removing ambient noise.
RECORDING AND NOISE REDUCTION
Press record on the Player Controls. Wait three seconds for the mic to record the room’s ambient noise. Record your piece. Now select those first three seconds before instrument or voice begins.
Select Effect > Noise Reduction. Click on Get Noise Profile. Depending on the length of the piece, this may take a few seconds or be done in the blink of an eye. Then select the entire recording. (Ctrl A for Windows). Or use the I Bar to select the whole clip. You may need to Zoom out.
Return to Effect > Noise Reduction > Preview. Like the change? If more reduction is needed, increase the db level. Repeat the process till the sound is what you want. Click OK to apply. The waveform in the first three seconds has less background noise, as will the whole recording.
When satisfied, select and cut those first three seconds.
For more fun with Audacity and easy recording improvements, check out YouTube tutorials on normalization and equalization.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS TO RELATED TO RECORDINGS
The Quicktime app can be downloaded for free and is an easy way to record and then import to itunes where a CD cna be burned.
Using a good microphone will improve the sound of the recording no matter what recording system you choose to use. We had a discussion about microphones.
All recordings should be backed up before being imported/exported.
Attending: Laurel Wright-Feighery, Pam Archbold, Kate Dougherty, Peggy Cann, Angela Scothern, Chris Watts, Kristen Rogers-Iverson, Cyndi Bowen, Heidi Jaeger
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic we chose to meet via Zoom so everyone could stay home and participate who was able. Pam hosted and led the meeting on Home Self Recording.
General Discussion while we waited for everyone to login and throughout Pam’s presentation (see her notes which are cut and pasted into section II).
Angela reported she had taken a course on recording through Coursera, a free online educational platform. She learned how to layon tracks for other instruments or singing. Mainly Angela uses it for instruments. Angela promised to send us information about her Coarsara course . and show us how she uses
Kate reported she had used Garageband and Fourscore for recording purposes.
Heidi reported she had used Audible (for Windows based systems)
The iPhone has a good sound recording system. Recordings can be uploaded to free Youtube channels and security settings can be applied to limit viewers from the public to specific individuals which Cyndi is doing with her music students. Heidi shared her recording on Youtube created with her iphone10x of the Salt Lake Valley Threshold choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hElg72h9b1c
Peggy learned how to use Garageband through a tutorial by the Apple store staff.
Audible is a free download for Windows Operating systems. There are special features that can be applied to your recording with this program. Garageband has similar features but is designed for Apple devices.
Voice Record 7 is an easy to use voice record system and can be downloaded for free from the app store.
Everyone agreed, no matter what software program you use, it requires a lot of trial and error to find the one that works best for your purposes and situation while some are more user friendly than others. There are many reasons to record yourself from just listening to yourself to help with identifying problems you don’t hear when playing, to creating something to share with the world. It doesn’t require a lot of expensive technical equipment but takes time to perfect the sound you want. Microphones can help with sound quality but make sure you get one with a USB port connection or adapter. Of course, if you want the highest professional quality without the DIY hassle of learning new technology and skills and you have lots of $$$$$, you can always book a recording studio and sound engineer.
Pam shared her screen so that we could see her Garageband program on her laptop. Unfortunately, the ipad version is very different than the laptop version. See the Garageband User’s Guide for iPad. The following are Pam’s notes which she wrote and I cut and pasted below with her permission.
Simple Options and Tips for Self-Recording by Pam Archbold
Why Self Record?
For current clients and as marketing tool for new clients
Sharing, including a CD of your music, with patients, friends and family
As a practice tool
Space that will sound good with your instrument: work in the largest room possible, avoiding low ceilings and close walls.
Avoid background noise such as traffic, dishwasher and HVAC running, computer fans etc.
Microphone placement: goal is full, clear sound without production noise such as finger placement, pedals shifting.
Depends on many factors including size of room
Use trial and error, selecting spot where you hear the clearest, most even sound in all ranges.
Often 20-45 degrees off the front of the harp, 5-6 feet away, 3-5 feet high depending on size of harp. Adjust height to optimize clarity in all ranges.
Basic recording equipment
Voice memo recorder on your iPhone/iPad/Macbook, using builtin mic, per Kristina Finch, is “surprisingly clear.”
Can convert voice memo files to MP3 files
Can upload voice memo files to your laptop or to Dropbox
Can use free app GarageBand, which comes included with all Apple products.
Logic is updgraded pro version of Garageband, for $199.
Hall, Rachel Lee. Recording in Progress: a practical harpist’s guide for self recording. HarpColumn, March/April 2020.
Sutich, Brian. Understanding GarageBand’s 4 Most Essential Effects. The App Factor, Fabruary 2017.
3. Virtual Gatherings: These are great ways to virtually attend a conference with internationally renowned teachers without the expense and hassle of travel. If you need to get your CEUs this is a great way to do it and relatively inexpensive.
Joanna Mell is leading a zoom harp circle Thursday mornings at 11 am. Laurel has more information about that.
Edie Elkins is leading a meditation complete with her playing the therapy harp at 4:50 pm MDT. Send her an email if you would like to be invited to that. Edie@bedsideharp.com. There is no charge for this gift.
Summerset Online 2020 is available in July. Prices range from $200 to view in July; $400 to view for the rest of the year. July 16-19. http://www.somersetharpfest.com/
Attending: Laurel Wright-Feighery, Kinsey Mitton, Pam Archbold, Kate Dougherty, Peggy Cann, Angela Scothern, Chris Watts, Kristen Rogers-Iverson, Tamara Oswald, Meg Smith Dawson, Cyndi Bowen
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic we chose to meet via Zoom so everyone could stay home and participate who was able. Kate was our technical person who hosted the zoom conference on her account and Peggy led the meeting.
We went around the group and each of us talked about what we had been doing with regard to playing harp for patients as well as self care. It sounded like Kinsey and Cyndi were still working but with reduced hours. Some of us found playing our harps were providing us much needed comfort and others found that they couldn’t play harp right now. Other activities included: zoom meetings with friends and family, sewing masks and quilting, taking long walks outdoors and staying indoors, video game playing, learning new music and foreign languages, reading, napping, baking. Nobody seemed to be bored.
Some suggestions during this stay at home time included many resources for online harp instruction.
Somerset will be holding their annual conference online instead of in New Jersey this summer. http://www.somersetharpfest.com/ $100 discount for earlybird registration.
Harp Column is offering many freebies due to the virus and if you are a subscriber, Harp Column Academy always has a myriad of harp tutorial videos available and regularly changing. It’s not just for pedal harps. www.Harpcolumnacademy.com
If you are a Facebook User you can follow a number of sites where harpists video themselves and upload to the site. These are not usually tutorials but more relaxing interludes. Anyone is welcome to post so maybe some of you might want to do this. Music Heals the World is one and I know there are many others. So many musicians are not able to work now they are just posting videos. Check out Youtube also.
Edie Elkan of Bedside Harp hosts an online therapeutic harp meditation every evening at 4:50 pm MDT. This is free and accessible via Zoom However, Edie would appreciate it if you want to join send her an email introducing yourself and requesting to be invited. firstname.lastname@example.org Both Peggy and I find this very therapeutic and relaxing. Edie plays harp to begin and then leads in a guided meditation that changes daily. We’re usually done by 5:30 and feeling rested and energized.
We took turns playing harp for each other.
Peggy began by playing Reflections by Barbara Semmann in the Angie Bemiss book, The Music of Friends
Tamara said she had been focusing on upbeat music and was playing from Sylvia Woods music from the musicals, Up and LaLa Land.
Heidi played William’s Lullaby from the Angie Bemiss Friends book.
Chris said she had been working on some pieces to accompany one of her home patients who liked to sing but did not play for us.
Pam played Somewhere Over the Rainbow with her own bass pattern arrangement.
Kate has been working on Irish jigs and played Spring Fever by Nadia Birkenstock, Morrisey Jig and Butterfly jig for us. She also provided urls for free music in a follow up email (see below).
Angela played a song called Alta Cri on her wire harp
Laurel played a song called Alan is Dear To Me from the Angus Frasier Collection and also Nora Likes Cake from the Edward Bunting Collection, both happy tunes to prove to us that wire harps don’t only play sad songs.
Cyndi was at work and not able to play for us but asked about harp repertoire recommendations. Several recommendations were made including any of Sylvia Woods harp books, Kate provided the following online sources for free music:
Attending: Keri Kammerman, ,
Laurel Wright-Feighery, Kinsey Mitton, Pam Archbold, Kate Dougherty, Peggy
Cann, Angela Scothern, Chris Watts, Kristen Rogers-Iverson, Tamara Oswald
Guests: Kimber Martinson, Aileen
Aileen Kelley was our guest speaker
at this meeting. Aileen graduated from BYU with a degree in Music and
later earned a Masters degree in Music from California State University,
Sacramento. She was always drawn to Music Therapy but there was no program she
could attend at the time. In 2004 she certified as a Music Practitioner through
the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP), and now teaches nationwide
for that organization. Aileen coordinated the Healing Music Program at
the Kaiser Hospital in Roseville, CA, from 2010 to 2017 where she also played
the harp at bedsides of critically ill patients. Retired from American River College after
teaching there for 18 years, she maintained a private teaching studio, directed
the Capital Valley Harp Circle, and performed in the community as a freelance
harpist until 2017 when she moved to Sweden with her husband, serving a 2 year
church mission with him. Aileen was Peggy’s advisor when she went
through the MHTP training.
Aileen’s therapeutic music journey
began In 2001 when her granddaughter, Myra, was born four months early in
Vernal, UT. Aileen came to her
granddaughters NICU in Provo and was granted permission to play harp for her in
a limited capacity. As the nurses and staff experienced the response of the
babies, parents and staff to the harp music, they encouraged her to bring the
harp every day and play as long as she could. The babies responded with
increased oxygen saturation, fewer alarms, and steadier respiration rates.
Mainly Aileen played simple and soft lullabies and found that keeping the music
flowing through improvisation was important.
NICU babies need to sustain their blood pressure within an ideal range:
not too low and not too high. Since they entrained to the tempo of the music
she played she had to watch the monitors for optimal results.
Myra was about 26 weeks gestational
age before her heart began to entrain to the tempo of the harp.
Aileen learned from this experience that Therapeutic Music was her calling and
at the end of the year of playing for the babies, Aileen found the MHTP program.
According to Aileen, the MHTP course took what she had learned playing in the
NICU and gave it structure. Aileen
reported that Myra is now 19 years old and getting married this April. She does
not suffer from any problems associated with her difficult start in life.
Techniques for Improving
Aileen instructed us all to set our
harps in C major, use a G chord for the bass and 4/4 time and improvise the
melody using only the white strings (pentatonic). We all played together and
then slowly harpists dropped out. This was a lovely exercise that
everybody could participate in. Aileen
used this technique once with an Asian woman who had intractable pain. Nothing
else she had tried seemed to connect or soothe this patient until she used this
technique and the patient responded quickly and positively.
Aileen talked about using the sounds
of the room including beeps and alarms to minimize their annoying sound and
blend then into the background. Find the tone and then work with
In lessons with students, Aileen uses
harp technique exercises as a foundation to improvise which she demonstrated
using a 3 finger pattern etude.
Aileen recommended Joyce Rice’s
book: Petty Larcenies. The point of this reference is that Joyce uses the
opening phrases of familiar songs and then spins off in improvisational directions.
This illustrates how one can also start with a familiar phrase but then take off and make it something new
by changing the patterns. E.g. changing ascending patterns to descending
patterns and vice versa.
Aileen demonstrated using a form of
musical question and answer phrases and said there are no wrong notes, just
interesting ones. She emphasized listening to the end of a phrase and
imagining where it might go…and then play what you imagined.
Peggy told a story about playing for
an opera singer who moaned as she was dying and how Therapeutic Musicians can
use a patient’s voice pitch and breathing to accompany them. Aileen
called it “companioning the patient”.
Sometimes humming or moaning is a way to vibrate ourselves from the
inside out and a way to comfort ourselves.
Kinsey shared an experience of
playing for a patient who did not respond to much of anything she was doing but
she felt that a particular technique was the right thing to do and after a
while it did help that patient to relax. Aileen added that 20 minutes of
playing seems to be the magic amount of time needed to really benefit a patient
and patience is often critical to success. “Put aside expectations and let the
patient drive the session.” She emphasized the importance of working within the
moment at the bedside, meeting the patient wherever they are at. She also noted
these improvisations should be kept simple and spacious to not overstimulate
The left hand should be kept simple
unless it is the main improvisation source. Single notes, simple
arpeggios and drones work well. A drone can be a powerful stabilizer for
Final comments on improvisation from
Aileen: Music exists in time. The mind will engage with a melody and go on a
journey. Rhythm = bodily functions.
Aileen encouraged us all to imagine a
patient and a condition or situation and then create improvisations to practice
the techniques before it’s needed by a real life patient.
In addition to the other hats she
wears, Aileen is the founder of Music Partners in Healthcare (MPIH.org). This
is a non-profit organization that educates healthcare facilities and provides
Therapeutic Musicians to those facilities to provide music to patients at the
bedside. As the first Therapeutic Musician in the Sacramento Valley, Aileen had
to create a demand for her services. Now, through the non-profit
organization, MPIH provides paid positions for Therapeutic Harpists throughout
the Sacramento Valley at memory care centers, hospitals, and skilled nursing
facilities. There is now more demand than harpists supply and it is a model
worthy of emulation that the Utah Therapeutic Harp Network might want to
consider in the future.
We had talked about having a harp circle at Pam’s house next month
but after the Corona virus events of the last week, we will postpone that until
a later date. Peggy has suggested we have a virtual UTHN meeting via Zoom April
14, Tuesday at 10 am. She has agreed to be the Zoom host and we can focus on
repertoire and self care. Peggy attended
Joanna Mell’s Zoom harp gathering which meets 11 am on Thursdays. Last week the
group simply played for each other providing the name of the piece and the
composer, although sometimes they just improvised. A calendar invitation will
be sent out as well. Hope you all can make it!
I am including a link to a live, unattended performance put on by
Utopia Early Music Saturday night at St. Marks Cathedral. Teresa Honey is the
harpist on a gothic harp. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esq0YeXIEw8
Guests attending: Gwen Soper, Laura Wall, Kelly Cann
Gwen talked about her musical background and experience and how she and Heidi ended up at the same patient’s bedside at the same time twice and other times she has felt called to sing for a friend who is ill or dying. She also sings with Peggy with the Baroque Ensemble. She is interested in continuing her work using voice at the bedside.
Laura works for the Utah Alzheimer Association as the Foundation Director and is a new harpist.
Kelly is Peggy’s niece through marriage and has just been accepted to the MHTP program. We used the Orff methodology to introduce ourselves clapping out rhythms which was good practice for us all.
Peggy, Keri, Laurel, Chris and Heidi briefly introduced ourselves and experience
II. The Business of Therapeutic Music
Kinsey mentioned that CMS pays hospices more during the last two weeks of a patients life who is covered by Medicare/Medicaid. This is a good selling point for utilizing Therapeutic Harpists at the bedside as patients are transitioning.
Kinsey told us about her experience getting hired at Elevation Hospice after she earned her certification from MHTP, her negotiation for salary and how she accepted something less than what had been agreed upon and why. We also included the online discussion on the MHTP Facebook group regarding one person’s idea to get Patreon or other crowd funding methods to pay for Therapeutic Music in Assisted Living facilities. Another contributor wrote that if nursing homes/ALFs don’t pay for this service and it is either offered as a volunteer service or paid for through another means, they will never appreciate what is being provided to them or the value of it.
Pam Archbold sent an email differentiating offering a performance as a gift or sample of Therapeutic music versus providing Therapeutic Music to residents/patients for free. Naturally, when we Therapeutic Harpists are completing internships the exchange for the learning experience is to provide the service for free. Therapeutic musicians are specifically trained. Once credentialed, they should be paid for providing therapeutic music services. Providing therapeutic music services at no cost undermines the perceived value of the service and the training.
Heidi shared her experience getting her first, second and third jobs at different hospices and how much and how she is paid both as an employee and as an independent contractor. Several members work for more than one hospice and as a contractor this is perfectly acceptable.
Keri uses the harp in her work as a chaplain providing spiritual comfort where words sometimes fail us. She has left Inspiration Hospice and now works for Solstice Hospice. She also shared her musical background with us. She came to this group through Tamara Oswald’s invitation. Keri also shared that she has worked for facilities owned by Kisco Corporation and they pay $60/hour for Therapeutic Harpists at their special events.
Tristan was unable to attend but sent an email that was shared with the group reminding everyone that we all need to support each other in this work and communicate with each other to enable that support.
Laura Wall discussed her reasons for taking up the harp this year and offered a number of marketing suggestions as that is her strength and role with the Alzheimer Association. She recommended we all subscribe to the Professional for Seniors network. To receive notifications of networking opportunities, contact Lorraine@seniorsbluebook.com and request to be on the notification list of events. Then go to those events and talk about our work. As Laura left for one of these events, she said she would be talking about us where she goes and the benefits of Therapeutic Music. The differences between Therapeutic Musicians, Music Thanatologists and Music Therapists was explained for our guests benefit.
Takeaways from the discussion: If you’re not sure what the going rate is for Therapeutic music, ask one of us, we will share what we know and have experienced with you.
If you need help marketing yourself ask another member of the network for some pointers and practice. This is not easy for many of us but it’s a necessary skill for this field of work. Organizations don’t know what we can do for them until we educate them.
If you are certified and looking for work (or more opportunities) share that with the UTHN members. Many of us have contacts at facilities that may facilitate your search. Most of us got our first jobs in this field because we knew somebody who introduced us or recommended us to the hiring agency.
Just a reminder, some of what is shared at our gatherings is confidential and should not be repeated outside our meetings, or in our notes.
Music we have recently learned or are in the process of learning:
III. Presentations of music we are currently learning or working on
Heidi played See You Again by Charlie Puth,
Laurel played Begone From My Window, Song of Flattery and Truth, and Beloved Maiden on her wire harp,
Keri brought the sheet music for Debussy’s Premiere Arabesque which she intends to learn.
Peggy demonstrated the use of style and its effect on a piece of music by making us guess what lovely piece she was playing. (The Flintstones Theme song).
For December’s monthly meeting we decided to gather and play harps together rather than have a formal meeting or presentation. Pam hosted at her lovely new home in Hideout, UT and there was room for 5 harps and harpists to all sit together and play Christmas Carols from Sylvia Woods book, 50 Christmas Carols for All Harps and some other holiday music.
Playing together and sight reading is not only fun but good practice, especially for those of us who typically play by ear, memory and improvise a lot. We intend to do this more often in 2020.
A few days after the harp Circle, Pam and Heidi took this show on the road to the Memory Care Unit at The Ridge where we played for the resident’s Christmas lunch. This is an annual event for us and we always try and dress festively for the occasion. The residents love it and one staff member commented afterwards they discovered harp music was so much more calming during a meal than some other types of musical performances. We agree, of course.
Tamara was busy elsewhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jbsUl5v7F8 and we missed her and our other members who couldn’t be with us this month but hope you all can make it in January 2020. Merry Christmas and a harpy new year to all. God bless us everyone!
I.Tamara Oswald presented on Harp Care and Maintenance
Some background on Tamara.
Tamara has been playing harp for more years than she appears old enough
to have accomplished. She began studying harp at the age of 7 after a year of
piano studies. At the age of 13 Tamara soloed with the Utah symphony and again
at age 14 and 16-once on piano. She received her degree in harp
performance at the University of Southern California under the direction of Susann
McDonald. Most of us are aware that Tamara is the principal harpist for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and
tours all over the world with this group. She is also a member of the Oswald-Goeckeritz
duo with Jeannine Goeckeritz (see www.harpandflute.com). Together, they have played all over the US and in Europe
and have recorded a CD.called Chanson.
Tamara met her husband Dan in Zurich when her parents were called to
oversee the missionary work in
Switzerland for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her
husband Daniel is the honorary consul of Switzerland to Utah. They are the
proud parents of 6 children and 15 grandchildren. Tamara was certified by the Clinical Musician
Certification Program/Harp for Healing (CMCP) in 2017 and has been employed by
Brighton/Bristol Hospice since then.
Please visit her website www.harpandflute.com for more information.
In doing an online search for information on Tamara I also
found the following review of her work:
“The flowing style and graceful
virtuosity of Tamara
Oswald has been enjoyed by audiences across the world. She has
performed with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under the direction of such
renowned musicians as Christoph Eschenbach and M. Rstropovich, and as a soloist
with the Tuttlingen Jugend Orchestra in Germany. Nationally, she has performed
with the Pasadena, Long Beach and the Honolulu Symphonies, and as a soloist
with the Santa Monica Symphony, the University of Southern California,
University of Utah, the Orchestra at Temple Square, Utah Chamber Artists and
the Utah Symphony. She has been the recipient of esteemed musical awards from
the American Harp Society and has competed as a semi-finalist at both the
Israeli and Rome International Harp competitions.
was principal harp for Ballet West for 20 years. She continues to perform
regularly with the Utah Chamber Artists, now in their 29th year, and has also
been affiliated with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Utah Chamber Festival, Salt
Lake Choral Artists, and the Park City Music Festival. She has had the
opportunity to perform with such luminaries as Julius Baker, Roberta Peters,
Robert Shaw, Dale Warland, Jubilant Sykes, and Ida Haendel.”
Peggy was kind enough to send us the link to listen to Tamara
accompany Sissel recently with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFe84U__kt8
Tamara prepared a handout for us all which we referred to
during her discussion. I will not copy the handout but will include some things
mentioned that I found new information or a good reminder:
Harp History from ancient to modern times. While harps are an
ancient instrument probably developed based on the bow and arrow, the modern
use of the harp as a solo instrument did not develop until the 1600s. There was
no way to adjust for sharps or flats until the 16 century when hooks were added
to create C# and F#. In the earliest days, the harp was used to accompany
songs, in groups with other instruments and voice. There wasn’t solo music for
the harp until the 1600s. Pedals were not developed until the 18th
The modern Troubador Harp was invented by Samual Pratt of
Utah in 1960. From both marriages of Sam and resulting children the Pratt
family have been influential in the modern lever harp movement., Carl Pratt
(801) 377-7082, Sam’s son, is an
excellent local harp builder and technician if your harp needs some work.
Pedal harp strings should be reserved for pedal harps and not
put on a lever harp except for the Lyon and Healey lever harps. They require too much tension and may break
the harp. When ordering replacement strings, you must specify the Harp maker,
string composition (gut, nylon, wire, fluorocarbon), octave and note. 1st
octave starts at the top and works down. (On a Troubador Harp, that would be E
to F). Be consistent with whatever the
harp maker recommends. A source for
string sets is D. Kolacny in Colorado
(303) 722-6081. Replace broken strings
as quickly as possible as too much pressure resulting from the broken string will
cause the neighbor strings to also break.
Dust covers are not required except for moving harps. Keep it exposed,, dust as needed and play it
daily. If storage is required of the
harp, the strings may be lowered a tone or so but don’t relax them completely.
Avoid knocking over the harp.
Cleaning: A slightly
damp cloth with a little mild soap will do (no detergents). Clean a small area
at a time and dry it. Avoid using too much water as it could get into the glued
joints. Black scuff marks can be removed
with a little benzene. If desired, a
commercial polish designed specifically for harps may be used. Polish is not really necessary though.
Tuning: Tamara demonstrated how she tunes her pedal harp for
playing in an orchestra starting with A. checking it with the 4th
note below (E) then the 5th below (D) then the 4th string
above A (D) and then the Octave (A to A) repeating this for every note even
when an electronic tuner is used. When
playing with the orchestra, Tamara tunes to 441 a bit higher as the stringed
instruments tend to sharpen as they are played. Woodwinds tend to flatten.
Tamara recommends tuning in Natural (C maj) although many orchestral harpists
tune in the flat position of the harp.
Replacing Strings: Tamara provided a diagram for knotting
harp strings and discussed situations where harp strings had broken in the
middle of her performances and how she dealt with that. Also how to look for potential breaking
points and changing weak looking strings before they break. Good idea to date
string packets when they are used in case of breakage right away. Most string companies will replace the string
if it breaks within the first week of use.
Dealing with pain:
resting an 80 lb. harp on your shoulder in an unnatural position, moving
harps, loading harps into cars is likely
going to result in pain as we age.
Tamara recommends practicing harp in the right size chair for your body
and the harp and using a chair with a good back on it, not a bench, at least
for practice. Only play for 45 minutes
at a time and then take a break,, stretch before and after playing. Tamara uses a pain relief cream product
called Real Time Pain Relief. There is Physical Therapy specifically designed
for harpists as well as ergonomic training to preserve the body.
II. We each presented and played some of our favorite holiday
Kris Watts played for us and shared sheet music she has
orchestrated for Silent Night. Pam and
Heidi played a duet of Pachabel’s Canon mashup with The First Noel, Kristen
played a piece she had composed for the upcoming funeral of a dear friend that
was contemplative and beautiful. She was
looking for feedback from the group which was provided. Tristan improvised and sang Away In the Manger, Tamara played a version of In the Bleak
Midwinter from Sunita Stanislow’s Christmas Eve book, Kinsey played Infant Holy,
Peggy helped Heidi play Jingle Bells using only a bass pattern and singing the
song to help her work on harp accompaniment for song. Thankfully the group sang while Peggy pointed
to the chords.
We closed the meeting and shared a light lunch potluck (always great food!) and
We agreed to not meet in December but have a casual harp
circle at Pam Archbolds house on a Saturday morning for those who can make
it. Next meeting will be in January.
Cann, Kristen Rogers-Iverson, Chris Watts, Tamara Oswald, Tristen Adair,
Kathleen Dougherty, Heidi Jaeger
Singing and Harp Accompaniment
to do with patients who don’t want to passively listen to instrumental music
and want to sing? Chris put a book together for one of her patients that
includes the lyrics to the patient’s favorite songs and a lead sheet for
herself so they could sing and play harp together. Chris incorporates techniques of guitar for use on
harp to accompany sing alongs. She demonstrated all of the techniques on
her handout so that we could hear how they sound which made the handout easier
Handout provided: Chris Watts, Chording patterns to add variation when singing songs. These were adapted from Elaine Stratford’s guitar course and sound somewhat like the strums by the interesting manes Stratford gives them like: Pussy Willow, 3 Away, Boom Chuck, etc.
Peggy showed us
how to start with a song with only 2 chords and then play just using the root
of the chords. We all practiced singing and playing He’s Got the Whole In
His Hands, You Are my Sunshine, Kum By Yah. The easiest way to start is to just
play one note of the chord, mainly the root note. If the chord is C, play
The second step
would be to add the 5th note of the chord in a broken chord
add 1, 5, 8 of the chord. Also, steps 1,5,10 of a scale makes
a nice bass. These steps work in any key, begin with the root of that
Many songs only
use 2 chords. In the Songs That Teach Book, songs are categorized as 2 chord
songs, 3 chord songs, etc.
lullabies for babies as Peggy does in the NICU, she often only uses root and
the 5th note of the chord in a lub dub heart beat kind of
rhythm which she demonstrated.
sources for Easy Music to play for groups: Readers Digest Book of Music
and look for the Guitar Guy on the Internet for lead sheets to common
mentioned that Certification for playing in NICUS can be obtained by
Therapeutic musicians as well as Music Therapists. The program is based in
Florida and that is where certification is granted. https://music.fsu.edu/NICU-MT/upcoming-trainings
The 2019 information– out of date— is on the site. 2020
has not yet been posted.
Report from the Music Thanatology Association International
conference in Portland OR Sept. 13-15, 2019
Approximately 55 people attended the 17th annual
MTAI conference. The Theme of the
conference was, From Music Into Silence. The highlight of this conference was
the first US screening of the documentary film about Music Thanatologist, Peter
Roberts, life and his work in Australia titled From Music Into Silence. https://vimeo.com/263142820
This is a fabulous
documentary filmed over four years about what one person (Peter Roberts) can
accomplish when he answers his true calling: becoming a Music Thanatologist and
playing harp at the bedside of the dying. In spite of the subject matter, this
film is not so much about death and dying but triumph of the human spirit,
compassion, and what can be done for others when there is nothing more to be
done. I found it uplifting and appealing with it’s focus on universal themes of
beauty and peace. Action/conflict junkies may be disappointed, but it is a
beautiful documentary shot in Australia and Turkey with archived footage from Missoula
Montana. The poetry of Rumi runs throughout the film spoken in Persian with
English text as a Rumi poem was Peter’s initial inspiration to change his life
and become a Music Thanatologist. This film will be shown in various cities in
Oregon the week following the MTAI conference and then the filmmakers will
return to Australia. Further release
plans are not known at this time.
Conference, Day 1:
While I traveled to
this conference I had no expectations that I would know anyone there or what it
would be like. The agenda had not been
published when I registered so I committed to going based on an intuitive
feeling that I just needed to be there. When I arrived I found people I had
extended relationships with through mutual friends and family ties and by the
end of the weekend I had 55 new sisters and brothers of the harp. Though our training is quite different, Music
Thanatologists, Therapeutic Musicians, Music Therapists ultimately find
ourselves in similar situations on a day to day basis in the field and so we
shared with each other how we approach these events with music and found there
are more similarities than differences between us. Singing and the application
of voice to bedside offerings is emphasized by the MTAI program so we sang a
great deal and I was able to take home many pieces of shared music that I plan
to incorporate into my own practice.
The meeting was opened
with a ritual of singing/humming and meditation and a formal processional into
the meeting space. After a business meeting, which I did not attend, we resumed
our educational gathering with a demonstration of three different approaches to
bedside therapy provided by Bethany Lee, Therapeutic Musician; Anna Fiasca, Music
Thanatologist; and Jake Beck, Music Therapist.
Bethany first played and sang a version of Blackbird by the Beatles for
a patient who had just been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and given a
prognosis of 3 months to live. Bethany played a second piece that was not
Anna demonstrated how
a Music Thanatologist would approach this scenario by playing a metered piece
in Dm Dorian mode to address the patients sorrow and loss and create an
environment of safety. Her tempo matched the patients breathing. Then she
played an unmetered piece to include minor intervals allowing more freedom for
the patient to rest without rhythm that included short phrases and repetition. She finished her offering with the song, “You
Dwell In the Heart” which is a blessing delivered in a major key to provide a
sense of intimacy and warmth. Voice and
harp were used throughout this session.
Jake played a guitar
and sang to the patient. He first asked
the patient what kind of music she liked as he explained patient preference is
important for patients to reminisce and music familiarity helps patients open
and relax. He played and sang, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and finished with
Will Ye Go Lassie, Go (Wild Mountain Thyme)Jake said if he had more time he
might finish with another song, Hard Times Come Again No More.
We broke for individual self care sessions and I was able to hike one of the many trails in old growth forest around the property which was quiet and peaceful. I even had the opportunity to sit and play my native American flute in the forest. accompanying the birds and crickets.
After dinner the film,
From Music Into Silence, was shown.
There is a part of the
film that is shot in Turkey and honors and remembers the Gallipoli battle of WW
I fought in 1915 in Turkey. For the
morning musical offering James Excell sang a capella “And the Band Played
Waltzing Mathilda” a haunting ballad that commemorates that battle from the
point of view of an Australian survivor.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZqN1glz4JY James shared with me afterwards, the most
difficult thing about singing this song is getting through it without breaking
down emotionally. No one in the audience managed it. It took great courage for
him to share this song with us.
interesting fact that I was unaware of was in ancient celtic times, War Harps
were used which were giant harps place on a hillside and caught the wind in
their strings creating an other-worldly sound in order to scare the enemy. Peter plays wind harp at the Gallipoli sight
that is quite moving. As he said in our
discussion, “What song could I play that would be appropriate for such a sacred
site? Better to let the wind play the song
the morning discussing the film with the cast (Peter) and the producers and
director: Farshid Akhlaghi and his wife
Sammi Ghafari. Farshid was unable to get
his travel visa approved by the US state department in time to join us so he
was Teleconferenced in from Australia to join the discussion and answer
questions about the film, his message, technical aspects of filming and many
other details. Sammi was able to join us
in person and of course Peter was present. It is disappointing that after 3
showings of the film to the public in Oregon, the film and its creators will
return to Australia and figure out next steps for its sale/release/showing to
the public. It has been to at least 5 film festivals and no more are planned.
It was shown in Australia to the public in 5 major cities and all shows were
sold out before the screening. Farshid
said that his original intention was to make a film about peace and beauty. Peter’s
story was his vehicle for delivering that and it changed his life, he said.
Lunch the presentation was a tribute to two long time members of the MTAI who
have passed away in the last year, Sandy LaForge and Abigail Robinson with
musical offerings and remembrances by other Association members. There was
group singing and harp playing during this session.
Ward presented a session of Harp Fundamentals. He was a lifelong student of the
Salzedo method and rediscovered his passion for the harp through MTAI training. No new material but good reminders for us
all: remember proper hand shape with
fingers curved downward and thumbs up, wrist bent inwards, arm bouncy without
being parallel to the floor, sit straight, shoulders relaxed, bounce the harp
off your shoulder to find it’s center of gravity, don’t lean over with your
bass hand shoulder (because many MTs play harp off their left shoulder he avoided
referring to left and right hands or sides and simply called them bass and
treble sides), Be fluid and make adjustments as needed, develop hand gestures
and remember your hands are dancing.
with a panel presentation in playing harp in the NICU. In spite of the program focus of playing for
the dying, many MTs play in a NICU environment where premature babies, the parents
and the staff all benefit from Therapeutic Harp music. Simple quiet music is necessary
for this work below 50 decibels, ideally, even though machines and monitors in
the NICU may be louder.
Comments: All babies have musical preferences based on
family culture, what they may have been exposed to in utero, and their own unique
personalities. Best to play warm music
(major tonalities) and short duration, no more than 20 minutes. By calming the staff and family, that
calmness will help calm the baby. Metered music at a slow tempo is best for babies.
consisted of Music Thanatologists who work in NICUs and Ruby Lee, an RN from
one of the NICUs. One of the most interesting comments came from Ruby where she
said that until participating on this panel, she was unaware that MTs actually
watched the baby monitors in the NICU to gauge the effectiveness of their
playing and altered their delivery based on the bio metrics. This is an opportunity for education of the
clinical care team in the future. Ruby
has been a NICU nurse for almost 30 years and she also said that she believes
it is important even for babies who will not survive to experience music before
they die. She is obviously a big
supporter of the MT program at her hospital.
finished the final session with Scola Cantorum led by Elizabeth Markell. We learned and sang in 4-6 part harmony, This
Old Brown Earth and For My Soul’s Desire. She also included a 4 piece orchestra
to accompany us with harp (of course) accordion, cello and guitar. Two more songs which I can add to my personal repertoire.
thoughts: I learned a great deal about
the Music Thanatology Association International program and their emphasis on
prescriptive music as well as the power of the human voice to facilitate the comfort
and gentle passing of souls. While the training and the certification
requirements of the program are different than the program I certified in, (International
Harp Therapy), many of the practices are applicable to both and we can all learn
from each other. Christina Tourin, IHTP
founder, was mentioned frequently and she was the guest speaker at the MTAI
conference 6 years ago held in Utah. I
plan to attend the MTAI conference annually as often as time and money allow to
continue the friendships made and the my own learning process.
the practitioners I met at this conference warm, welcoming, inclusive and very
willing to share their experience and knowledge with others. I would recommend attending this conference
to anyone already practicing Therapeutic Music or aspiring to do so. I intend
to incorporate many things I learned in this 2.5 day conference which were very
practical and useful tools to add to my skills, knowledge and abilities as a
Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner.
In order to be invited to this conference, one must register with the MTAI
program as a “Friend of MTAI”. This costs $40 and must include an application
for membership. This also grants access to their Slack website.
meeting of the UTHN will be in October and Tamara will lead this one. Topic and
date to be announced but keep your Tuesday mornings open!
(Notes provided by Kathleen Dougherty as I was on vacation)
Our speaker was Melou Stewart Cline, Music therapist. Melou
has her NICU-MT, a national certification to practice Music Therapy in the
NICU. Melou also is a Neurologic Music Therapist, NMT.
Melou outlined a multimodal approach to NICU music therapy,
which included humming, singing, humming with harp, singing with harp, and
touch. The latter, as I understood, is only employed by NICU nurses and parents
(or other approved persons).
Provide music geared to the developmental stage of the NICU
infant. For instance, at six months gestation, singing and playing harp will stress
the child’s immature physiology. Proceed hierarchially: Start with gentle
humming (Brahm’s Lullaby has had good results) and pay attention to startle
responses. Keep sound levels below 70 dB.
Startle response: The Moro reflex is when an infant suddenly
extends arms and legs, arches the back, then curls everything in again. The
child may gasp. (Infants may startle not only to sound, but bright lights,
physical touch and other unfamiliar stressors in the NICU.)
Watch for improvements of oxygen saturation, heart rate, and
relaxed states. If humming is tolerated, move to singing, then humming with
instrument (harp), then singing with harp. All interactions at slow tempo and
low volume. Note: I can’t recall discussion about harp alone.
These MT interactions with NICU infants can also soothe the
medical staff and the parents.
NICU sessions are usually brief, 10 to 20 minutes, to avoid
overstimulating the baby.
Singing one specific song to an unborn child can help Mom
sooth the infant after birth. Perhaps Dad’s singing, too.(Generally in
gestation babies start to respond to sound at 18-20 weeks.)
Music therapy in NICU can decrease length of stay. NICU
nurses and parents may also employ gentle human touch to soothe preterm infants
along with gentle humming or singing.