"Science is opening doors to medical applications of music that were unimaginable a decade or so ago…play music and Parkinson’s Disease patients walk, stroke victims speak, the aging remember and the heartbeats of premature infants stabilize…Scientists predict a future in which music will routinely be used as a prescription, when it will alter our genetic makeup, treat immune system disorders, and alter brain function in neurologically disabled and aging patients."
(Elena Mannes, author The Power of Music, six-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker)
Harp music has a long history of use in healing and plays a central role in Healing Muses' work. Research findings specifically relating to harp music date back more than a decade to the turn of the 21st century. To note just a few:
- In a recent controlled study of several hundred patients with advanced cancer, the addition of musical interventions led to a significant improvement not only in anxiety and depression, but also decreased subjective complaints such as weakness and fatigue. These results compare and corroborate other studies in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer, which showed a consistent reduction in anxiety, stress, depression, and even physical pain. (Planas Domingo et al. Music & Medicine 2015);
- Ninety-two eligible patients participated in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. Five symptoms—fatigue, anxiety, sadness, relaxation, and pain -- representing QOL (quality of life) -- were significantly improved following therapeutic harp treatment. Approximately 30% to 50% of patients showed an increase in ALL the QOL measures after harp treatment, and a markedly higher percentage of patients showed improvements during the harp treatment than during standard care. (D.M. Schneider et al in Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2015);
- Research is revealing that music can function not merely as an adjunct to modern Western medicine, but that it can be a fundamental part of the treatment plan. Relaxing music was found to be more effective than anxiolytic medication in reducing anxiety in pre-operative patients. (Bringman, Giesecke, Thörne, & Bringman, 2009);
- Listening to music in the early stages after a stroke can improve patients' recovery. Researchers from Finland found that if stroke patients listened to music for a couple of hours a day, their verbal memory and focused attention recovered better and they had a more positive mood than patients who did not listen to anything or who listened to audio books. University of Helsinki, 2008);
- Initial results of a small pilot study in St. Joseph’s NICU, Phoenix AZ, with babies who have had heart surgeries show that live harp music allows the babies to relax, eat, sleep and thrive.