Hirsch, Jan

A young Woman with a diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury and Multiple Sclerosis is residing in an Adult Care Facility.   Her Speech is rapid and garbled, but her speech therapy sessions have been discontinued due to lack of progress.    I began harp therapy with this young woman by asking her to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with me as I accompanied her on my harp.    She sang every word with crystal clarity.    Music is processed in many areas of the brain whereas speech has one location.   I knew that I could use music to eventually help her speak clearly.   I began composing Haiku’s for her because she had a great interest in philosophy and poetry.   A Haiku is short and every syllable counts as a unit in the Haiku parameters.   I accompanied her on my harp as she  pronounced each syllable of the Haiku with clarity.   We progressed to conversations about areas of interest. Her sister wept when she heard her speak saying, “That is how she use to sound.”

An elderly gentleman has been hospitalized with a diagnosis of pneumonia.   He is agitated and restless and nothing seems to comfort him.    His family is gathered outside of his room visibly distressed.     His grand daughter has flown across the country for what she feels will be her last visit with her beloved grand father.    I enter the room with my harp.    He knows me from our harp therapy sessions at the Adult Care Center where he resides.   The moment I begin playing the harp he becomes relaxed and soon falls into a restful sleep.   Two hours later, he awakens to have a wonderful visit with his grand daughter.

An elderly woman with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s sits in a chair in an Adult Care Home.   She stares into space and never speaks.    I ask her to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with me and she sings, remembering every word of every verse.   Her caregivers are astounded.     Her face has a radiant smile.