Skip to main content Clear Filters Yes Bathrooms Bedrooms Car parks Dementia Get directions Featured Zoom Back Article icon Facebook Twitter Play Facebook Twitter RSS Info Trending item Drop down Close Member area Search External link Email

Healing qualities of the harp

The sweet sounds of the harp rang out in harmony across Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) Wantirna earlier this month, uplifting the spirits of aged care residents.
Therapeutic harp sessions can play a powerful role in enhancing the lives of aged care residents.

Around 20 harpists from across Australia gathered at the Victorian facility to learn or refresh their knowledge on the healing qualities of the harp, as part of an international conference led by renowned American harp therapist Christina Tourin.

Studies have shown that the harp, its sounds and vibrations, help to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rates, anxiety and pain levels, and bring a sense of calm, inner peace and emotional balance to listeners. The practice is particularly healing for people living with dementia or in palliative care.

The conference was hosted by VMCH’s aged care residence in Wantirna, which has an innovative wellness program for people with dementia.

Australian harp practitioner Carla Whiteley has run a Harp Therapy program at the residence for more than three years and says it has had a clear impact on residents.

“Therapeutic harp music is based on the science of sound,” Ms Whiteley says.

“It is live, acoustic music played for people who may be patients in hospitals or living in aged care residences to help create a calming environment conducive to the healing process.  It also supports their families, visitors and staff.”

The conference gave harpists the opportunity to network and be inspired by one another. A painting activity, whereby harpists interpreted their paintings musically on their instruments, saw participants think more creatively about sound.

Harpist Moira Pagan described the conference as a “wonderful experience”.

“I learnt loads about myself as well as the practice of the therapeutic harp within the environment of an aged care residence,” she says.

“Sitting opposite the residents I could see a couple of folks who had little expression on their faces become animated and smiling during the course of the music.”

Fellow harpist Rhonda Ward says “Watching Christina provide a therapeutic harp session for residents in their rooms was a highlight. This gave us the opportunity to observe the powerful role that music plays in enhancing the lives of residents.”


Subscribe to our Talking Aged Care newsletter to get our latest articles, delivered straight to your inbox

Recent articles