International Harp Therapy students and graduates gathered at Lancefield animal sanctuary Edgar’s Mission earlier this month for an experiential training day with rescued animals.
The day focused on whether the beneficial relationship between music and healing could be applied to animals.
“Animals have a physical and psychological sensibility, which allows them, in the same way as humans, to experience pain and pleasure,” Christina Tourin, a pioneer in therapeutic music and founder of the International Harp Therapy Program said.
“Research shows that music can affect an animal’s mood in much the same way it affects us. When animals hear classical music, it has a soothing effect and they become relaxed.”
With hundreds of formerly farmed animals residing at Edgar’s Mission, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary this month, founder Pam Ahern said many had suffered from past trauma.
“Harp therapy has proven time and again to soothe new arrivals to the sanctuary,” she said.
“Some transformations are immediate, while others are slow and at the animal’s pace.”
Edgar’s Mission resident therapeutic harpist Vimukti Warrhas been volunteering for more than four years.
“Vimukti goes to great lengths to connect with the animals and plays music appropriate to their needs to bridge the gap between us and them,” Ms Ahern said.
“It has been a great delight to see this compassion in action.”
Vimukti was instrumental in putting together this international event for harpists.
“It was a unique opportunity indeed,” Vimukti said.
“As therapeutic harpists, whether we are working with humans or animals, the fundamentals of what we apply are similar.
“We look to use inclusive attention to find the right tempo, rhythm and resonant tone of the individual.
“We are always observing and playing to support and hold them in a cradle of sound, creating their very own personal therapeutic harp experience.”
The experimental day helped students and graduates to become more confident to work with animals and humans alike.
“Staff, volunteers and visitors also benefited as the beautiful sounds of many harps and the loving intention borne from kindness echoed through the land,” Vimukti said.