Good for the Harp, er, Heart

“Music played on the harp has several unique healing properties,” says Christina Tourin, founder and director of the International Harp Therapy Program. Based in San Diego, the program trains students to provide comfort and healing through harp music.

Tourin first realized the harp’s healing power in 1989, playing for her hospitalized father. Founded in 1995, the Harp Therapy Program works locally with San Diego Hospice and worldwide with Planetree Hospitals, to place harpists at hospital bedsides. in hospital settings and with other special needs, such as developmental disabilities, respond well to the harp,” says Tourin at “For people in intensive care units and in operating rooms, monitors show that the heart rate decreases and the oxygenation levels increase when soothing harp music is played.

“People who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease often access memory through songs from their past,” says Tourin. “During childbirth, harp music helps to create an atmosphere of love and safety, with the possibility of supporting the rhythm of the mother’s breathing during appropriate times.”

For a $2400 tuition, the program offers online lessons, books, and DVDs. Students are required to serve hospital shifts at the beginning and end of the course, as well as an 80-hour internship playing harps in therapeutic settings, under the supervision of an approved mentor.

Since 1991, Christina Tourin has released over a dozen music CDs on her own Emerald Harp Productions label, which she sells through her website ($15 average). She also offers “therapy harps” (“packages starting at only $391”), including a signature Christina Therapy Harp, from $1131.

– Jay Allen Sanford

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