Harp Notes

UTHN meeting of 5/12/2020

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Considerations

  • 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

Recording software

  • 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.


  • Can add external mic for additional sound quality
    • XY microphones create stereo audio. Examples: Zoom H1N, Tascam DR-40, Zoom H4N.
      • Pros: focused sound with stereo capability
      • Cons: Use of two microphones may be redundant for solo instrument recording
    • Omnidirectional microphones capture sound from every direction. Two microphones face away from eachother. Examples: Tascam Dr-05, Roland R-05, Tascam Dr-100.
      • Pros: true-to-location sound picks up more room ambiance
      • Cons: more expensive; more likely to pick up unwanted background noises
    • Hybrid microphones: multiple advanced options; not recommended for beginner.


  • Free Apple earbuds
  • Sennheiser HD280PRO
  • Samson SR 150 headphones come with the Samson C01U Pro microphone

Garageband Basics

  • First Steps
    • From launch window, select New Project, select Empty Project =>
    • Create Track: select track type Audio/Record using a microphone or line input
      • Note: skipping over Tempo, Key Signature, Time Signature
      • Audio Input/Output: can select builtin mic or external microphone which will appear in drop down list
    • Track name: double click to edit
    • Sounds => may wish to select Acoustic Guitar => Natural Stereo
    • Mute button
    • Solo button
    • Volume slider: Doubles as level indicator, displaying green, yellow or red. If slipping into red, turn volume down. You may wish to select Automatic Level Control and Noise Gate.
  • Smart Controls
    • Compression, EQ, oh my!
      • Smart Controls display varies depending on what “Patch” you selected. I selected Vocal => Natural Vocal. Controls display with default settings.
      • Click on the EQ tab to see the visual equalizer: You can tap and drag the three different colored dots (orange for bass, green for mid, and purple for treble) to cut or boost a frequency.
      • Analyzer button: tap it to see a visual representation of the track’s frequencies in real time! This gives you the ability to see where a track is lacking or has too much of a certain frequency.
      • Echo: helps track sound fuller.
      • Reverb: similar to Echo; helps track sound “larger than life.”
      • Click on the Compare tab to listen to saved versions
  • Hitting Record
    • May wish to select automated count-in that will count in 1 bar before the point you begin recording. This allows a little extra time to prepare.
  • Save the single track you have recorded as your named project. You can then save the song to iTunes if you wish:


Baird, Patrick. The Garage Band Quick Start Guide

Finch, Kristina. Technical Harpist #1 – Recording Devices. Harpcolumn, June 12, 2015.

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.

  1. 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/

UTHN Meeting of April 14, 2020

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.

The MHTP program will be holding their conference online as well June 18-20.   For more information see their website:  https://www.mhtp.org/mhtp-conference      

The Edinburgh Folk Harp Festival Society held their first virtual and free festival starting April 3 through April 8.  Video can still be accessed at Youtube  https://www.youtube.com/user/edinharpfest  and Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/EdinburghInternationalHarpFestival/

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.  edie@bedsideharp.com  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: 






If we are still quarantined for May, Pam offered to host our next Zoom meeting on the topic of making recordings. Tentative date will be May 13 at 10 am. 

UTHN meeting of 3/10/2020

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 Kelley

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 Improvisation Skills

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 it. 

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 patient.  

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 patients. 

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. 

If anyone would  like to drop Aileen a note she can be emailed at akelley.home@gmail.com

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

UTHN Meeting of 2-18-2020

Attending:  Peggy Cann, Keri Kammerman, Laurel Wright-Feighery, Kinsey Mitton, Chris Watts, Heidi Jaeger

Guests attending:  Gwen Soper, Laura Wall, Kelly Cann 

I. Introductions

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). 

IV. Book Recommendations:

Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization by Stuart Isacoff  or Temperament: The Idea That Solved Music’s Greatest Riddle, also by Stuart Isacoff

Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn

UTHN Harp Circle December 2019

The Irish Wire strung harpists dueting with an appreciative audience
Pam and Heidi performing for the Christmas Party at The Ridge MCU, Cottonwood Heights

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!

UTHN meeting of 11/5/19

UTHN members (missing Cyndi Bowen and Laurel Wright)

Present:  Keri Kammerman, Kristin Rogers-Iverson, Kris Watts, Angela Scothern, Kate Dougherty, Tamara Oswald, Kinsey McNevin, Pam Archbold, Tristan Adair, Peggy Cann, Heidi Jaeger

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.

Oswald 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.”   http://www.harpandflute.com/about-us/tamara-oswald/

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 century. 

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 music.

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 casual conversation.  

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.  

UTHN Meeting from 9/17/19

Harps from the MTAI Conference

Attendees:  Peggy Cann, Kristen Rogers-Iverson, Chris Watts, Tamara Oswald, Tristen Adair, Kathleen Dougherty, Heidi Jaeger

Singing and Harp Accompaniment

What 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 to understand.

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. 


Ray Pool’s Hymns and Harmony Catagory A, pg 1

Angie Bemis’ Simply the Harp website, Traditional Songs and Lullabies Key of C, www.simplytheharp.com

Ray Pool’s 3’s a Chord video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmBvia892jI

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 C. 

The second step would be to add the 5th note of the chord in a broken chord pattern.

Then 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 scale.

Many songs only use 2 chords. In the Songs That Teach Book, songs are categorized as 2 chord songs, 3 chord songs, etc.  

When playing 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. 

Other 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 songs. http://www.theguitarguy.com/

Peggy 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.

Scola Cantorum

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 familiar. 

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.

Day 2:

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.

An 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 for dead.” 

We spent 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.

After 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.  

Joshua 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.  

Day 3:

We began 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. 

The panel 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.

We 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.

Final 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.  

I found 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.    

The next 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!

UTHN meeting of 7/9/19

(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.

Before birth:

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.

UTHN meeting notes from 6/3/19

Attendees: Heidi, Peggy, Laurel, Chris, Tristan, Kate, Tamara

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 Bass. 

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 hindsight.

A short Youtube video of Therese Shroeder-Sheker you may want to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gppfjwu4xXk

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 each other.

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.

As 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 website: www.MTAI.org

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.

UTHN Meeting April 23, 2019

UTHN Meeting April 23, 2019 held at Kristen’s house

Attendees:  Kristen, Peggy, Laurel, Cindi Chris, Kate, Angela, Heidi, Tristan

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

I’m not sure when this discussion came up but the reference is to an article about a Therapeutic Musician who plays the harp. See the article   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/19/AR2008121903041.html?referrer=emailarticle&noredirect=on

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 Molly Sweeney

There will be an Arts in Health Symposium at the UU in the Fall of 2019, see http://artsinhealth.utah.edu/

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 experiences
  • Awareness of self and environment which accompanies increased attention to music
  • Anxiety and stress reduction for older adults and caregivers
  • Nonpharmacological management of pain and discomfort
  • 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. 

Session II:  Music therapy in Utah: Current Trends, Reimbursement and More

Presenter: Emily Polichette, MM, SCMT, MT-BC

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.

Session III:  Music and Mental Health in the Medical Settings

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 (Krout, 2001)

 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. 

Session 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 pathways.

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 non-threatening.

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 patients.  

II. We were all requested to watch the TED talk You Are Contagious by Vanessa Van Edwards


and listen to the podcasts: 

End of Life University  Dr Karen Wyatt  Mortal Wisdom


181  Impermanence

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.

Cindi quoted: “Gratitude allows grace to complete it’s cycle”  I cannot find the source for this citation but I did find the following via google search:  https://mentalhealthgracealliance.org/christian-mental-health-and-mental-illness/what-you-get-when-you-give-thanks

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.