Soothing Harps: The Power to Heal at the Royal Irish Academy of Music

Conversations on the role of the harp in music therapy settings at the heart of Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland’s 2023 Symposium

Cruit Éireann | Harp Ireland’s Soothing Harps Symposium took place on Sunday 19th November in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. The symposium began with a keynote address from RIAM Music Therapist, Jessica Harris, who spoke about the ancient origins of music in a therapeutic context, and the potential role of the harp in these settings. Harpers, music therapists and enthusiasts from across Ireland attended the symposium, which offered a variety of reflections, workshops, presentations and performances.

William Jackson, both harper and music therapist, provided informed insights into the use of the instrument in a music therapy session, as well as experiences and reflections on the positive impact the harp can have on people’s lives.

Dominic Cogan led a workshop which explored the symbiotic relationship between music and mindfulness, and which emphasised how these two elements can join forces to support the well-being of both performers and audiences. The event provided a platform for participants to delve into the profound connection between harp music, a mindful approach to performance practice and ways to deal with performance anxiety.

Reflections on performance practice were provided by harpers Dr Mary Louise and Dr Teresa O’Donnell, as well as Aisling Ennis, all of whom have, and continue to provide harp music in care settings. Reflections ranged from the type of music performed, to providing access to the instrument and its music, contributing to a relaxed atmosphere of learning and inspiration. In summary, the Hands on Harps Symposium provided an opportunity for participants to come together, share ideas and reflect on the role of the harp in a music therapy setting.

Aisling Ennis

Dominic Cogan

Jessica Harris

Dr Teresa O’Donnell and Dr Mary Louise O’Donnell

William Jackson