15 January 2008

Healing Harpists

The healing power of music has long been established in people. Now a handful of harpists throughout the country are harnessing that power for animals. Alianna Boone is one of those musicians.

"The structure of the harp is considered to be the most healing instruments next to human voice," said Boone, an Oregonian who plays for ill family pets and produced a CD "Harp Music to Soothe the Savage Beast."

While anecdotal reports abound, Boone conducted one of the few studies on harp music’s effect on animals. In 2000, she performed for recently hospitalized canines at a Florida veterinary clinic. The hour-long sessions immediately began to lower heart rate, anxiety, and respiration in many cases, she said.

Diane Schneider produced "Harp of Hope: Animal Therapy Edition", a collection of 17 songs. It was originally recorded for people but Schneider decided to release an animal edition last year after owners reported it helped their arthritic dogs fall asleep and calmed their agitated cats.

She said every detail of the instrumentals — the tempos, rhythms, keys, note intervals, chord structures and plucking techniques — are carefully arranged to promote progressive peace and relaxation. Animals usually begin to relax after listening for just a few minutes. Schneider recommends playing the music on an as-needed basis or before a stressful situation, such as a veterinary or grooming appointment.

"I’m hopeful that there will be a great increase in the use of this benevolent therapy," said Schneider. "It is a very cost-effective, beneficial, soothing, calming intervention for animals and the people who love animals."

[Source: MSNBC]