Now Playing: Music's Healing Power Gets Amplified!
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Music's Healing Power Gets Amplified!
Music does so much to lift the human spirit. Doctors have found a decrease in depression in those who play or passively listen to live music especially. Martin Gizzi of New Jersey Neuroscience Institute says that he has seen music decrease a patient’s need for medication such as sedatives. In Alzheimer’s patients especially, he said it can promote “clarity of thinking” while reducing irritability and promoting calm. One study has shown a decreased heart rate and blood pressure level for those who play or listen to a soothing instrument such as the guitar and harp.
Many purists wrestle with the question of amplification but when playing in larger venues, it becomes something for serious consideration. Does it detract or enhance the benefits seen in acoustic instruments? I now use a keyboard amp and multi-channel foot pedal for effects. It is a good thing that I do because some of the people I play for can not hear very well. Still, with proper placement of the speakers, they are able to enjoy the performance. I caught up with Bob Williams, owner of Music and Things where I purchased my new OS 150FCE Limited Edition Electric Autoharp. His is an online musician’s supply store with, “Instruments and supplies you need at a price you can afford.” Bob is himself a seasoned musician and did a fabulous job of tuning my electric Autoharp before shipping. He spoke of a Tennessee Autoharp artist who added a flanger to his electric instrument with beautiful effects. I’m exploring new territory myself by adding “colors” such as chorus, phase shifter and a bass/drum machine. So far the swirling of the phaser or phase shifter is by far the most favorite of my pedal effects. I added this effect during rehearsal the other night and everyone could hear the enhanced difference. Some said they couldn't believe how good the Autoharp sounded! Keep in mind, most people are not familiar with the Autoharp and unamplified, it can sometimes sound "brighter" than a mellow guitar or bass. However, that is the signature sound of the Autoharp. My goal is not to obscure it's uniqueness but to bring it out. That is too why a keyboard amp is preferable to a guitar amp. Guitar amps do not retain enough of the original sound quality of the Autoharp.
Mary Ann Johnston is editor of The Autoharp Quarterly and herself an avid Autoharp player. In fact we will be featuring her personal insights on playing the Autoharp right here in an upcoming issue. One of the biggest yearly events for Autoharp players of every distinction is the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering in PA. The Autoharp Quarterly is the magazine for Autoharp enthusiasts with great instrument tips, songs and other artists to draw from. Dedicated artists like these are keeping this instrument alive. Now with the interest in everything Celtic and Old English from clothing to music, interest in traditional folk harp music is on the rise.
One of the other things I have added now that I am playing more is a strap. I chose the Slider Strap because it evenly distributes the instrument’s weight, (about 11 lbs) over my shoulders, allowing me to play longer and in total comfort. The inventor of the Slider Strap also makes similar design straps for Nickleharpas,(don't ask), banjos and guitars. It will improve your performance the first time you strap it on. For more information and pictures, visit the website links below. If you would like to know more about my music ministry and Autoharp performances or see the dates where I will be appearing, please check back here. Below are links to this article's featured companies.
Music & Things - Bob Williams-owner Music and Things
The Slider - Autoharp Strap Slider Autoharp / Guitar Straps
The Autoharp Quarterly - Mary Ann Johnston - Editor
The Autoharp Quarterly
Mel Bay Publications Inc. - Sheet Music Books and Instructional lessons for instruments of all kinds. (We are now reviewing their selection of Celtic and Scottish Music Books for the Autoharp).
Mel Bay Publications
Reverend Dr. Marie J. Miczak
Ordained Ecumenical Minister
Harp Hymns Ministry