The Harp: Good for the Animal’s Heart?

Strange that a harp of thousand strings Should keep in tune so long! ~ Isaac Watts (Photo; courtesy of

Contributed by Sandi Martinez

Music soothes the soul; this isn’t a new concept.  In fact, it’s a well-known documented fact.  In 2000, Alianna Boone who produced Harp Music to Soothe the Savage Beast, conducted a study on the influence of the harp’s musical effect on animals by performing for a group of hospitalized dogs at a Florida veterinary clinic.  The hour-long sessions had an immediate effect on lowering heart rate, anxiety, and respiration in most of the dogs.

Though both wild and domestic animals may benefit from music therapy, not all respond to it.  Diane Schneider, who produced Harp of Hope: Animal Therapy Edition, says “It’s not a magic bullet, but for animals for which it works, it works incredibly well.”

According to Christina Tourin, Founder and Director of the International Harp Therapy Program, “Practitioner graduates of the International Harp Therapy Program use the small harp as a bedside instrument with the intention of supporting the goal of healing.  This goal may be emotional, physical, mental or spiritual in nature.  Music played on the harp has several unique healing properties. The resonance from the strings, including the range of pitch and tonal color, sets up an important relationship between the sound and the listener.  Historically, the harp has been a symbol of relief and comfort.  It is one of the most characteristic instruments of a timeless healing tradition.”

Angels and other messengers of gods were often pictured carrying a harp; it was not unusual for ancient people to consider harps as mystical doors or ladders into the realms of the “other-world”.  Consequentially, the harp is often seen as representing communication with the divine.  Regardless of its many varied associations historically and otherwise, the harp continues to uplift the soul, calm the mind and body, and provide opportunities to heal ourselves… and our pets!