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.
Today we are celebrating and honoring our member, Tristan
Adair as she retires from 25 years of work as a Music Thanatologist. Before Tristan embarks on her next adventure
traveling the country in search of Sasquatch in her RV and teaching harp, we
wanted to hear more about Tristan’s journey as a Music Thanatologist and learn
from her vast experience.
Tristan was a music student of piano from the age of 3.
Lucky enough to be born into a family of talented musicians she was recruited
early to play in the family string quartet on violin and String Bass. Tristan attended BYU on a full music
scholarship and also trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London playing String
After graduation, Tristan was living in Oregon and was
recruited (voluntold) by her mother for the Bend Oregon Hospice, where her mom
was a volunteer. At that time, Tristan
had never played a harp or been interested in hospice work. As serendipity usually happens, while Tristan
was volunteering, Therese Shchroeder-Sheker
was invited as a keynote speaker to present at the hospice. She spoke
about her Chalice of Repose Music Thanatology training program and Tristan was
intrigued. Tristan and Therese had a
long conversation after the conference and Therese encouraged Tristan to apply
to the program. Even though Tristan did not play the harp at that time, she was
admitted to the program in Missoula Montana.
Tristan recounted that long ago she had had a memorable dream about a
harp which made no sense to her at the time but was obviously prophetic in
The Bend Oregon Hospice was so supportive of this training that they partially funded Tristan’s training at the Chalice of Repose. When she graduated Tristan came back to Bend and was hired to work as a Music Thanatologist for them. Even with Tristan’s vast musical background and experience, the Chalice of Repose experience was daunting and demanding, according to Tristan. Many applied, few were admitted to the program and of those, many were redirected to other occupations before graduation. (It sounds like Harvard Law School.)
Tristan met Ann Dowdy at Chalice of Repose and Ann recruited
Tristan to come to Salt Lake City where she said there was a great need and
opportunity for Music Thanatology. Tristan has worked for a number of different
hospices in Utah: Applegate, Care Source and CNS were the most memorable. Tristan
recommends working in an inpatient hospice with a clinical team who truly
understand the benefits of Therapeutic Music for the best experience in the
world, as she had at CareSource. The most difficult misconception hospice and
palliative care team members have is that music is a performance to entertain
patients, which of course, it is NOT.
Some of Tristan’s most memorable experiences playing harp at
the bedside occurred when she was privileged to play for patients who were
actively dying and passed in her presence.
One experience she remembers was a patient who seemed to generate a
golden spiral from the top of his head upward and as they took their last
breath, the spiral began to evaporate from the head moving upwards and then
totally disappeared. Tristan believes
that was when the patient’s soul took flight from their body. Another time she was playing for a young ALS
patient and she saw a golden tapestry hanging midair over the patient prior to
their passing. She has witnessed a glow
of patients who are on the verge of dying that is unexplainable.
Tristan wished to thank all the members and guest of UTHN
for their support and friendship over the last 2 years. As this work can be very solitary and most
people don’t really understand what we do and why we do it, having a support
network like UTHN is most valuable to share ideas, experiences and learn from
Cyndi Bowen wanted me to thank all of those involved in her
therapeutic harp healing experience last month.
She found it a profoundly healing experience and couldn’t adequately
express her gratitude at the time.
a followup to our discussion, the Music Thanatology Association International will
be holding their annual meeting in Portland Oregon September 13-15 at Still
Meadow Conference & Retreat Center
16561 SE Marna Road
Damascus, Oregon 97089
Potential presenters include Peter Roberts and Farshid Akhlaghi
All are welcome to attend. More information can be found on their
Our next meeting will be July 9, location to be determined. Peggy Cann is hosting and one of our Music
Thanatologist friends will be presenting on Music Therapy in the NICU.
Our UTHN meeting was followed by the Heartland harp trunk show featuring the Serenity, their newest addition to their line of carbon fiber harps. Dave Woodworth was present and incredibly generous as he hauled one of each model into my house for us all to try. The Serenity weighs 5 lbs, fully levered and has 25 strings. It is retailing for approx.. $2500. If I was in the market for a new therapy harp, this would be the one I’d buy. While Dave was here he fixed a chronic intermittent buzzing problem I have been having with my Lewis Creek Jessie harp. I can’t believe how great it sounds now. 10 years old and still serving me and my hospice patients well. We all enjoyed playing them and lifting them and envying the built in light system. Safe travel wishes for Dave as he continues on his cross country show of harps.
Today was Tristan’s and Chris’s birthday which we celebrated
with good food and a potluck lunch.
I: Heidi Reviewed the Generations 2019 conference Music Therapy Track held 4/16/19 at the Salt Palace Convention Center; Peggy, Tamara, Pam and Heidi attended and Peggy presented:
Conference Session I: A Continuum of Music in Healthcare: From Music Listening to Music therapy
Presenters: E. Christensen, SCMT, MT-BC; P Cann, CMP; S
Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD; M. Frani, PhD; M , Hearns, PhD
Massamiliano Frani, PhD is the CEO of Genote see www.genotelab.com, recorded music to achieve various outcomes working with specific populations. He graciously offered attendees a 2 month free trial if we email him and mention his offer at this conference. He discussed his research using his product with long distance runners and the effect it had on their Ck, Hb, Cortisol, and Testosterone levels. Statistically significant results include an decrease of Ck and increase of testosterone and better motivational and coping skills. See Youtube videos for more information https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm4tiXyX_axzIq1Ty9q7eYA
Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD, Assoc Dean for Research at UU
Discussed Time Slips, a storytelling method to work with
Dementia patients. TimeSlips opens storytelling
to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.
The open, poetic language of improvisational storytelling invites people with
dementia to express themselves and connect with others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yxxbw7YIys
The UU has an Arts In Health Innovation lab, free yoga at
the UMFA for the public and recently produced a play about a blind woman called
Maureen Hearns, PhD, Chair of the Music Therapy Dept. at
Utah State University, Logan
Music therapy In Dementia Care:
Music therapy provides opportunities for:
Memory Recall which contributes to reminiscence
and satisfaction with life
Positive Changes in Mood and emotional states
Sense of Control Over Life through successful
Awareness of self and environment which
accompanies increased attention to music
Anxiety and stress reduction for older adults
Nonpharmacological management of pain and
Stimulation which provokes interest even when no
other approach is effective
Structure which promotes rhythmic and continuous
movement or vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation
Emotional intimacy when spouses and families
share creative music experiences
Social interaction with caregivers and families
Peggy Cann, CMP gave a great presentation on what Therapeutic Musicians do and demonstrated by playing the harp for the group as she would for the NICU patients she plays for. She discussed the differences between Music Therapists and Therapeutic Musicians training and scope of practice.
II: Music therapy in Utah: Current
Trends, Reimbursement and More
Presenter: Emily Polichette, MM, SCMT,
MTs can bill for restorative care if their
work is in support of other outcomes.
They need an MD to sign off on this.
If insurance companies deny billing, ask to
see their exclusion policies.
Utah Association of Music Therapists has a group devoted to legislative lobbying and they are always trying to get more billable services approved by Medicare/Medicaid See Utah State HB 277 which created the designation of State Certified Music therapist (SCMT). Only MT-BC people can apply for SCMT certification.
The term “Music Therapist” is not owned exclusively by BC-MTs which is one reason why they pushed for HB 277. It is important for the public to understand the difference between music therapists and Board Certified Music Therapists. One difference is in the amount of training and internship hours BC-MTs receive versus other certification programs.
III: Music and Mental Health in the
Presenter: Heather Fellows, SCMT, MT-BC
An experiential session. We all took up instruments, drums, guitars, and played together. Heather and some of the other Music Therapists present sang. Heather provided stories of her 20 years of practice as BC-MT working with all kinds of patients and how she used music, usually guitar and voice, to hold space for patients.
Group Music Listening with Adolescents for Self-Expression
in Grief Recovery (McFerran, 2011)
Active music making, songwriting and analysis,
and music assisted grief rituals with hospice workers (Wiodarczk, 2010)
Singing and vocal improvisation with adults with
mental illness in complicated grief (IIliya, 2015)
Live Music Based experiences improved pain
control, physical comfort and relaxation in terminally ill hospice patients
Heather told a story about a family member of
a terminally ill patient who requested she play and sing Charley Puth’s song,
See You Again.
IV: the Power of Your Individual Voice: Songwriting and Voice in Music therapy
Presenter: Brandtley Henderson, MM, MT-BC
Why we sing: Everybody can do it!
Muisc can create and reinforce neural
Singing is a way to create a shortcut from
the prefrontal cortex (decision making) to the amygdala (emotional processing).
Singing permits the individual to
acknowledge and process emotion in a way that is engaging, accessible, and
Another experiential session. Everybody can
sing who can breath and make any sort of vibrational noise from their throat.
You don’t have to be a trained singer. Brandtley played guitar and sang songs and had us all
write a song in 15 minutes as a group which we then sang. It was pretty easy to do actually: pick a rhythm, create a phrase about a
preselected topic, attach the phrase to a melody. Sing. Brandtley works with the Utah State Hospital
II. We were all requested to watch the TED
talk You Are Contagious by Vanessa Van Edwards
End of Life University Dr Karen Wyatt Mortal Wisdom
183 How to let go of
what you thought should happen
167 Kathryn De Longi and
Music Thanatology (Kathryn is Kristen’s cousin and inspiration).
Using these sources as
inspiration we talked about our own experiences when we were not centered and
focused on our patients and the effect that had (or did not have) lending
support to the concept that our intention and mindfulness is critical to the
work we do.
We discussed the importance
of focusing on gratitude as a way of improving not only our own emotional and
physical health but that of others around us and how HeartMath measures and
encourages this practice of cardiac coherence.
Tristan shared an experience she had recently of an estranged family coming together at the bedside of their dying loved one and how the music helped them heal at this critical time before their loved one passed.
We also shared experiences of how times of brokenness can allow us to utilize other gifts we have to make a positive impact on the world in spite of our own disabilities and limitations. Laurel shared her experience from living with a chronic illness for the last 25 years and finding gratitude for all the blessings of her life.
We finished with lunch together and a healing ritual for one of our members using harp, intention and holding space for support.
Attendees: Kate, Heidi, Angela, Kristen, Laurel, Peggy,
Tamara, Chris and guest, Cindy Bowen
We each introduced ourselves, told where we got
certified (or are in process of
certification) and where we currently work.
Cindy is enrolled in the CMCP
program that Pam, Kate, and Tamara went through. Cindy will be added to
our email distribution list and can be reached at email@example.com.
Chris Watts shared with us her presentation that
she uses with Senior Centers, Sir Gwain and the Loathly Lady, a story of
chivalry, romance, honor, overcoming fear, and the answer to the ultimate
riddle, “What does a woman really want?” Chris uses storytelling, harp playing
and visual aids to facilitate the telling of this tale which was charming and
had us all engaged. Chris said that she
has a different presentation for almost every month. March would be Irish
stories, April Jewish stories, May Mothers Day stories, etc.
Chris asked us each to bring or play a happy
song. Everybody either discussed, sang
or played the harp for their piece:
I’ve Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor (Kate)
Oh What a Beautiful Morning (Heidi)
Wo Betyd thy Wearie Bodie –an Irish melody for
the wire strung harp c.1627 (Angela)
Kristen reminded us all that happy songs are
very personal and depending on the circumstances she has used What A Wonderful
World, Frere Jacques, You Are My Sunshine, There is Sunshine in my Soul Today
Dark Gaick of the Wandering Stream, a Scottish
piece from the 1800s for the wire strung harp was played by Laurel
Tamara played Petite Waltz combined with My Sun
and Shield. She recommended Lorinda Jones Harp Concert Book which is full of
popular happy pieces and Carolyn Bame’s book of waltzes which had the pieces
that she played for us.
Peggy played and sang: How Much is that Doggie in the Window.
Chris shared with us the lyrics and chords for I
Love You A Bushel and a Peck and The Whale.
Other topics of interest
Peggy is presenting on a panel at the Generations
2019 Conference April 16 on A Continuum of Music in Healthcare from Music
Listening to Music Therapy. The music Therapy track runs all day long and
anyone can register and attend that track for a fee. If you want to attend just
the panel presentation from 9:15 am to 10:30 email Peggy and you can attend
that session only, free as her
Peggy will be hosting our next UTHN meeting at her house in Orem April 24 (date and location to be confirmed later)
The UTHN is a professional development network of practicing Therapeutic Musicians living in Northern Utah. All members have graduated or are currently enrolled in a Therapeutic Music Certification program approved by the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM) Or Music Thanatologists. Visitors to our monthly meetings are always welcome. Please contact me if you would like more information about this organization.
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Utah offers a rich and evolving array of courses, lectures, and special activities for people who are 50 years of age and older. On 12/13/17 I was fortunate to be attending an Osher LLI Lunch and Learn. The keynote speaker was Dr. Greg Bulaj of the Medicinal Chemistry Department at the University of Utah. I was especially interested in his talk and had reserved a space well in advance as I expected the lecture to be pertinent to Therapeutic Harp work.
It was titled: Digital Medicine and Music for Epilepsy, Pain, Depression, and Cancer: How Mobile Apps and the Internet Deliver Non-pharmacological Therapies for Chronic Disorders.
Dr. Bulaj has been conducting research combining drug therapies with music and digital apps to improve the outcome for patients. As he began his lecture he informed us that one of the biggest healthcare challenges today is the fact that patients do not take their prescribed medications either at all, or sporadically, or incorrectly. According to research in the area of Medication Non-adherence, 50% of people with chronic diseases to not take their medications as prescribed. This can result in increased mortality and morbidity rates, reduced quality of life and shortened lifespans. The reasons for non-adherence vary including medications being too expensive, regimens too difficult to follow, patient denial of disease and need for treatment, discontinuing medication due to patients feeling well, and unpleasant medication side effects.
In the case of epilepsy, if meds are taken incorrectly seizure activity increases.
Mobile Medical Apps
Medical Mobile Apps are considered medical devices and require FDA approval and clearance. Examples include:
Epicadence: mobile software for the treatment of epileptic seizures (under development)
Blue Star: prescription digital intervention to treat Diabetes Type II. In clinical trials it was shown to be just as effective as medication. It is an FDA cleared mobile medical app and delivers behavioral self-management content.
Pear Therapeutics: mobile app to treat substance abuse (FDA cleared prescription digital therapeutic)
MusicGlove used to treat stroke and traumatic brain injury, and Cerebral Palsy.
Project EVO videogame by Akili Interactive treats ADHD and Autism.
NeuroRacer videogame to treat and monitor cognitive decline.
Pain RelieVR: Virtual Reality device and software to manage pain.
ReMission: videogame for pediatric cancer patients.
Intellicare: A suite of apps for the mobile phone to treat depression and anxiety from the molecular level to the behavioral level. ‘A novel suite of 13 speedy mini-apps called IntelliCare significantly reduced depression and anxiety in study participants, who used the apps on their smartphones up to four times a day. The reductions of 50 percent in anxiety and depression are comparable to results expected in clinical practice using psychotherapy or with antidepressant medication.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170105123102.htm
Patient Empowerment Exercise Video game, called PE Game, for pediatric oncology patients. Similar to Wii.
Combination therapy for cancer patients includes cancer drugs and the PE Game. Builds strength and improves positive attitude which can improve the immune system. The mobile game is loaded on a tablet and improves physical and mental empowerment and becomes an exercise device for patients.
Packaging music into music streaming software to be used as a medical treatment. See published research paper below:
See UpMusing.net for use of music in treatment of depression and pain. upmusing.net/
Music and Physical Exercise are very effective in treating pain. Recommended treatment for chronic low back pain now is physical exercise, tai chi, or yoga. If no relief from this regimen after several months, then physicians may prescribe meds.
Fish oil (omega 3) can also be useful for pain management in combination with other modalities.
Mozart Sonata K448 has been shown to reduce seizure activity in humans and rodents if performed per the original composition. 10 min/day seems to be an adequate amount of time for listening to be effective. It can also improve sleep and reduces stress. OK to listen to the music while sleeping.
If music is packaged in a mobile app, and approved by the FDA as a medical device, it can be reimbursable by third party payers
Dr. Bulaj’s final thoughts and comments:
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Helen Keller.
Digital Medicine may be efficacious as a preventive treatment because this is where behavior changes can most influence the disease outcome.
Challenges to Acceptance:
Cyber security fears
Patients willingness to be actively engaged in their own therapy
After an enlightening discussion with Dr. Bulaj earlier this week he sent the following links for additional information related to his projects including harnessing medicinal properties of Mozart music for people with epilepsy.
Playing music for the hearing-impaired is a challenge. Unfortunately, a large number of hospice patients have lost much of their ability to hear well due to their advanced age. Until I can sit with the patient and try different sounds and gauge their response, I don’t know if therapeutic harp will benefit them or not. Sometimes, just the experience of trying to hear, agitates and frustrates the patient because it is a painful reminder that they’ve lost the joy of sound along with so many other deep losses. I have been dismissed by some with little regard for social graces and a lot of anger focused in my direction. In contrast, some profoundly deaf patients delight in the experience that someone went to the effort to lug a harp into their space and sit with them for awhile even though they will never hear a single note that is played. Intention and presence are gift enough for these people. One of my profoundly deaf patients once said to me, “Honey, I can’t hear at all anymore so you just play whatever you like. My wife enjoys the music and that makes me happy. Come back anytime.”
Yesterday I met a new hospice patient for the first time. John is in his 90’s, and when I arrived, he was quite agitated about something he thought was on his pants that needed to be removed. He was bent over double in his chair in his living room trying to pluck the offending substance off his pants. The printed pattern on the pants looked like something that didn’t belong there to him. His caregiver, a family member, was present and was concerned that John was not behaving appropriately for his “private concert”. He tried to reassure John that nothing was on his pants; John was not reassured in the slightest.
I had been informed before I arrived that John had 2 favorite songs that I should play which I practiced before I went. One, a traditional American song, the other a hymn. I introduced myself to John and shook his hand. He looked confused and asked, “Do I know you?” “Not yet” I assured him, “But you will.” I had to get very close and shout and it wasn’t clear if I was being heard at all. Initially, I sat about 6 feet back from the chair John occupied and began playing the songs a family member had told me he loved. I got no response. John had stopped fussing about whatever he thought was on his pant leg and now was agitated over the towel that he was sitting on to protect the chair. He wanted it removed. He kept trying to stand up so he could pull the towel out, which he wasn’t able to do without risking a fall. His caregiver kept jumping up and trying to calm John, encouraging him to just sit and listen to the music. John was having none of it and the caregiver appeared to be getting frustrated with John’s behavior. No matter how loudly I played, John was paying no attention to me at all. I was invisible to him. I suddenly realized John couldn’t see me or hear me. Clearly, this encounter was not producing the desired effect of soothing peace and calm for either John or his caregiver.
I stopped playing and told the caregiver I wanted to try something a little different. I moved as close as I could get to John with the harp and managed to get his visual attention. He did not seem to remember me and acted surprised that I was there. I placed his hands on the harp pillar and began to play scales, arpeggios, and glissandos. John’s face lit up. He could feel the vibrations. He began to comment on the size of the harp and the strings. He tentatively plucked a string and beamed his delight at me. He asked questions about the harp and told me about someone he knew long ago who played the harp. I was getting a glimpse of the charming, intelligent and caring man John was inside. He stopped perseverating on the chair and his pant legs. I tried again to play his favorite songs but there was no visible recognition to any melody from him. I continued to play familiar tunes, more to calm the caregiver than John. John appeared to find joy in the closeness and novelty of my presence and the harp vibrations he could feel. The caregiver found peace in the music and ability to relax, momentarily, from his demanding job. The tension in the room began to dissipate quickly as the calm settled. John kept his hand on the harp pillar and continued talking to me, quietly. I couldn’t understand his words so I just kept playing, looking at him, smiling and nodding. When it felt like the right time to leave, I bid John and his caregiver goodbye and was encouraged to return anytime, any day.