2007 STORY # 18: My Harp is a Healing Instrument
My heart was once so closed to music that I thought I would never play an instrument again. However, the memories were just tucked deep inside me, waiting for a reason to re-emerge. For nearly twenty years, I excelled in the information-systems technology field, rising from a consulting position at a local company to director for the branch.
In 2002, however, national news reports of clergy abuse disrupted my life. The guilt, shame and anger I had experienced as a teenager, after being abused by a priest returned. I remembered how the experience had tainted my love for playing the church organ.
After psychological counseling, I decided to pursue music again and learn to play the harp – not for myself, but to touch others' lives in what could be their loneliest hours.
As a Certified Therapeutic Harpist, I spend much of my week playing tunes, oldies and healing music for the elderly and for individuals receiving hospice care and in assisted living facilities.
Administrators at several local assisted-living facilities have witnessed me at work:
"What I observe, especially with Alzheimer's residents and people with dementia, where it looks like they can't relax, you can see them focusing on the music," said Susan Cantrell, director of marketing and admissions at Southerland Place in western Chesterfield County, in Virginia.
"Many of them cannot communicate verbally; it touches their souls. You can see it in their facial expressions."
Kendra Spencer, recreation manager for memory-support health care at Westminster Canterbury, in Richmond, VA, stated.
"People that were agitated or crying or yelling, calm down enough to listen," she said. "She also brought out people who weren't talking much anymore. All of a sudden they're singing the words to a song or they'll start talking and saying, 'Thank you so much,' or memories from childhood are sparked."
I really had no idea the harp could be so powerful and healing; the music is healing for me, too!
I truly feel that now I have taken an awful experience and turned it around; in using my musical talents that lay dormant for so many years for the good of others.
The abuse that caused me to abandon my music, led me to use music to heal others.
The message is not 'poor me’, it’s about the joy of waking up every morning and knowing that I'm sharing a part of me that is good with others.