AZ Giving and Leading: Harp Foundation

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Patients across the Phoenix metro area experience the healing power of music, thanks to this non-profit. Harpists bring comfort to patients, families and healthcare workers. We’ll introduce you to a woman who was so moved by music that she quit her job to become a full-time harpist and play at hospitals across the Valley.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of giving and leading looks at the power of music. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana show us how the harp foundation is helping hospital patients in the city of Phoenix.

Jocelyn Obermeyer: There's just something about harp music that's ethereal. People instantly relate to it.

Christina Estes: Even the tiny patients inside St. Joseph's neonatal intensive care unit.

Jocelyn Obermeyer: The sound is air being pushed through her nose. It's just a reminder that she needs to breathe.

Christina Estes: It may look like Joselyn Obermeyer is just playing music for Mary.

Jocelyn Obermeyer: She likes this one right here.

Christina Estes: But she's also tuning in --

Jocelyn Obermeyer: I tailor the music to what I hear coming out of them. The first thing I listened for is can I hear their pitch. It's very subtle. That's part of the training, how to hear the sounds coming out of people.

Christina Estes: Joselyn first learned of the harp's power six years ago when she was a school principal faced with a parent volunteer losing her fight against cancer.

Jocelyn Obermeyer: she just went on and on about how relaxing it was. How it calmed her down. How she was able to breathe better and it healed her in her soul knowing she was going to pass but hearing this beautiful music. It kept knocking at my heart. I'm a musician, so I play other instruments, but it kept knocking, play the harp, play the harp. I felt so called to that work that I learned how to play the harp, stopped being a principal and jumped right into it.

Christina Estes: today Joselyn is among musicians with the harp foundation. They play in lobbies and rooms across five valley hospitals.
Lew Young: what we found through evidence-based research is that if we bring therapeutic harp music into a situation where there's a lot of pain it just immediately relaxes the situation. Patients can heal faster. Their medications work faster and better and they are able to leave earlier.

Christina Estes: Patients are not only ones touched by the strings.
Sister Margaret McBride: the demands of watching patients, demands of all the technology. You see beeps and alarms going on. What we found is the harp music even for just a few minutes to staff members actually calms them down and relaxed them as if they had taken a -minute break.

Patty Peterson: I have been a nurse here for ten years.

Christina Estes: Patti Peterson has witnessed the change. As her daughter struggling during childbirth something caught Patti's ear.

Patty Peterson: right outside her room there's a woman siting there playing the harp. I got very emotional because my mother played the harp. So I thanked her and I said, I really appreciate this. It means a lot for to us do this. So I went back inside and I said to my daughter, eden, gramma is here. She can't stay very long. I want you -- I get so emotional when I talk about it. I want you to get that baby out right now. Within a few minutes she delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl, my fired grand -- first grandchild.

Juliann Kernagis: The more that she rests and is comfortable, the more energy she will store up. So it gives her that amount to be able to eat, to interact.

Christina Estes: Juliann Kernagis knows it helped.

Juliann Kernagis: she opened her eyes and closed and she was moving her mouth. So I can tell that she had heard her playing and when she stopped, she opened her eyes and noticed that she had stopped. So I think that she really enjoyed that. It helped calm you. Put things into perspective. To realize that this is what we're here for.

Ted Simons: For more information on the harp foundation, how you can get involved or learn where the harpists play, visit the website

Ted Simons: Tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," we'll learn about the variety of ways the valley summer heat can be deadly. And we'll talk to participants from Arizona's latest town hall which focused on solutions for those living paycheck to paycheck. That's Tuesday evening at and here on "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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