Therapy for singers?

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    Rachael Rosenbaum


    Hi folks! I have an unusual question. You see, I am a singer first, and I learned to play the harp so I could accompany my voice. I so admire those who use their harps to play therapeutically, and sometimes I wish I could do something like that too. But singing is by far the most satisfying thing for me, and has to be my focus. Is there any way I could use singing with the harp for some form of therapy service?

    Angela Biggs

    Hi Rachael,

    Voices and harps have different sound properties; also, voices are much more variable than harps of a similar size. Harpers may hear distinct differences among 36-string lever harps, or among CGs, but really… laypeople don’t. This makes harps more uniformly suitable to therapy. (Yes, I understand that mellow harps are considered more desirable, but the listeners don’t have harps to compare, so the tone doesn’t necessarily have much effect on their conscious responses.) Voices also tend to garner stronger reactions, partly because they’re more present in our everyday lives. A person who only listens to pop is likely to have a strong negative reaction to an operatic voice, for example. A therapy recipient who hears a harp reacts as to something novel, so her perception comes from a much cleaner space and she gives the harper more control over her experience.

    A voice would also require some serious training (which perhaps you have) in order to manage this successfully. Vibrato alone could make or break an experience for the listener: straight-tone can only be produced with excess tension, which is not a good way to make someone comfortable; on the other hand, a vibrato that is too slow or too fast makes people uneasy. And that’s just one element of vocal production.

    It would certainly be more challenging to try harp therapy plus voice. You have access to at least one indicator of potential right now, though: how do people respond when you sing with your harp? Does a room full of people stop dead to listen? Do strangers (not family!) walk up to you and tell you that you made them think of angels? Or that you made them feel peaceful? Or that you made them feel comfortable, relaxed, etc? If people overall respond enthusiastically and positively when you sing with your harp, harp therapy with voice might be worth a shot.

    Of course, even if straight-out therapy doesn’t work, there are always waiting rooms and public spaces; you could provide background music for people under strain without trying to directly influence them.

    Please update when you decide whether to pursue this path! I’m interested to hear what decision you make and how you reach it. 🙂


    Hi Rachael,

    Oh there is totally a way to use your voice and harp for therapeutic services. I’m working on that as well. I’m a professional singer and I too, have taken up harp to accompany my voice.

    When I go to my massage therarpist, they play some music with voice and harp. The voice can either have some lyric or just lot of vocal harmonies, or to say it plainly, oohs and ahhhs. Loreena Mckennitt is my role model, and if you listen to some of her vocal arrangements at the beginning of some songs, you would hear what I mean. Although her music is celtic/world music, the technique she uses is meditative as well.

    But in any case, I’m releasing a Inspirational/mediative album in August of this year. One of the songs I sing and play the harp on is called Harpers Under The Sky. It’s a storytelling song, but it’s meditative in that I use a lot of vocal harmonies with my lead vocal. With my harp, I’m just playing a simple melody and bass. I have a sample on sound cloud, if you would like to hear it.

    Also check on sound cloud to hear other meditative music, so you can get ideas that may inspire you to create your own music.

    Rachael Rosenbaum

    Thanks guys! I love Loreena Mckennitt too.

    I think some form of therapeutic use of the harp with voice may well be in my future, just not sure yet how to go about it… but I hope to figure it out some day not too far away :0)


    You’re so welcome. One question, where would you like to perform such a service: in a hospital setting, or for yoga practices (for work outs)? Do you have an idea how you specifically want to use your playing and singing?

    What has helped me to formulate what I want to do with my music is to figure out who I think it would benefit; Say for example, for theraputic purposes, massage therapists, practioners, schools, yoga instructors. Then I would look for places that would welcome the services, by contacting them…..

    I hope this helps a little. It’s a wonderful thing, of what you want to do 🙂


    Check out a program like Music for Healing and Transition Program or pursuing a music therapy degree. Neither are primarily harp based.

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