Therapeutic Harp

Healing Harps

The therapeutic properties of harp music have been proven in medical studies. From days of old, people have benefitted from the presence of music in their lives. This is particularly true when they are ill or troubled, feeling helpless and anxious. Live, gentle therapeutic harp music at the bedside, tailored to the needs of each individual, can provide a path toward greater relaxation and comfort in a spiritual, but non-sectarian, atmosphere.

In November 2008, I became a certified therapeutic musician. Since 2004, I have been playing and singing therapeutically in private homes and — occasionally — in public places, and worked at the Sha’arei Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem for 15 years.

Back in November 2007, for example, I found myself on a tedious train journey up-state from New York City, into the depths of Vermont. The two books I had chosen for the trip turned out to be duds: I turfed them into the rubbish bin, where they belonged. Instead, I took up my harp, and people started to gather around me.

What had begun as a move to allay my own boredom turned into a therapeutic session for one particular gentleman, who settled himself, full-length, on the seats across the aisle from me, hat perched cheekily over his eyes, and floated away with the music. Our deep, intense conversation afterwards convinced me that the music had truly helped him at a time when he needed to gather considerable spiritual, mental and physical strength in order to tread a new path in his life. I remain touched by this encounter, one of several such meetings over the years.

It is a true privilege to play and sing for people who need the gentleness, harmony and beauty in the music to release, comfort and/or uplift them, or who simply love music and respond to it eagerly. Each person whom I have played and sung for, in such situations, has touched my heart. That is not the point of the exercise, of course, but simply a warming side-effect; nonetheless, I thank them for it.

playing in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Jill playing in the NICU at Shaarei Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Israel. (Copyright C. Booms; used with kind permission)

“Jill doesn’t play harp with her fingers and hands: she plays with her heart and soul.”

“Thank-you for coming; everybody here needs your music.”

“We are so blessed to have you and hear you in our NICU!”

“Jill plays so gently, it’s a pleasure to listen.”

“I manage so much better with all the procedures when Jill and her music are here.”

“Heavenly sounds!”

“I first met you a few months ago when I was a patient in the Oncology Day Care in Sha’arei Tzedek. You contributed to my feeling of well-being with your beautiful music. Thank you again for the pleasure you brought to me and my fellow patients.”

“Thanks for the healing you offer to Sha’arei Zedek patients.”

“Music always helps, but yours especially. You’re doing very special work. Thank-you.”

“You are an inspiration.”

“You have no idea how much your music helps people in the Oncology Day Centre. I watch them relaxing visibly as you are playing.”

(Copyright D. Gottlieb; used with kind permission)

Jill playing in the Oncology Department of Shaarei Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem. (Copyright D. Piha 2015; used with kind permission.)