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Stories from the Harp: Our Furry Companions

June 29, 2016
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Music isn't just for humans, and today we're sharing a little collection of stories that were sent to us about the therapeutic effects of music on our four-legged furry friends.

From Ann Robinson:

"My cat loves my new D670. Since I've had it, she comes and sits under it while I play. Today, she had the whole floor to choose from and decided to lie right up next to the leg. I wonder if she's getting a cat massage from the bass vibrations radiating down to the floor."


From Dr. Tracy Baker:

"I play my harp every night just before bedtime. It is a fitting end to the day and it calms my wife and I. It gives us a sense of well being since we both love the sound as it fills the house. What is most enlightening is what it does to my wife's Bichon Frise Dogs. If they are not already up on the bed, they immediately jump up there. Then they immediately lie down and fall asleep. They are gentle dogs but it brings to mind the saying by William Congreve in 1670 'Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast', often misquoted as 'Music has charms to soothe the savage beast.' Either way, it is true."

From Nancy Downie:

"Although this series is called "Stories from the Harp", hammered dulcimer players can (and do!) provide therapeutic music in healthcare settings. I have many bedside stories, but instead I will tell my somewhat unique "tail" about how I was led to healing music.

In 2000, our daughter had an opportunity to work in France, but she couldn't take her cat, a sweet, shy little girl named Kaia. Being good kitty grandparents, we decided to adopt her. Upon arrival at our very big, strange, scary house, Kaia did what most kitties would do in such circumstances. She hid behind the washing machine.

I had been playing the hammered dulcimer for about a year. I wasn't very good yet, but I loved the dulcimer's sweet sound, and playing it always had a calming effect on me. I wondered if Kaia might find it soothing too. So I started playing "Southwind" with my soft hammers. After a few minutes, I saw a little black face with big yellow eyes peek around the corner. She crept out of her hidey hole and sat at the other end of the family room, watching and listening for a long time. By the next day, she was curled up at my feet while I played. For the remaining 14 years of her life, she loved the dulcimer and would often jump up on my lap while I practiced.

I wondered if the sweet sounds of the hammered dulcimer might have the same effect on people. Soon after Kaia joined our family, I learned about the Music for Healing and Transition Program and began taking their classes. Unlike some of the other therapeutic music programs, MHTP welcomes many different instrumentalists and vocalists, not just harpists. I became a Certified Music Practitioner in 2003. In 2005, we moved from Michigan to Oregon. I have served in many different settings but currently volunteer 8 hours a week in several units of Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital, including Bone Marrow Transplant, Adult Oncology and Cardiology. The patients and staff find the music soothing and relaxing. In addition, they are often intrigued by the hammered dulcimer (many have never seen or heard one before), and their interest in the instrument helps take their minds off of their troubles."

If you have a personal story, photo or video that speaks to the therapeutic power of music, we would love to share it as part of this series! You can contact us here.


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