Our Founding Story
BEDSIDE HARP® was founded by Edie Elkan, music teacher for over 40 years and involved in using the harp as a therapeutic instrument since 1994. Understanding the extraordinary healing qualities of the instrument first-hand, she has, since 1999, dedicated herself to bringing harp therapy to healthcare and wellness settings. Her vision was to partner with major medical facilities within which she would set up programs to:
Play for patients, their loved ones and staff
Teach folk harp right at the medical facility, to staff and community for their own healing and enjoyment
Train, prepare and certify harpists to work in a variety of medical settings including hospitals, cancer centers, surgical centers, nursing homes, rehabs, hospices, birthing centers, psychiatric, addiction and eating disorder treatment facilities as well as doctors’, dentists’, and chiropractic offices and wellness centers
Collaborate with the medical facility on research projects to provide evidenced-based data on the effectiveness of harp therapy.
At the time however, no one in healthcare knew what harp therapy was, nor was anyone open to the concept of partnering with a music teacher who would, in effect, run a music school out of their facility. Undaunted, Edie pressed forward, offering patients and staff at hospitals, hospices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in doctor and dentist offices a taste of harp therapy, on a volunteer basis. Wherever she played, patients, families and staff alike were wowed — but still, no healthcare facility could quite envision hosting the kind of program Edie hoped to create.
And then came that terrible day in September 2001. And after that, the anthrax poisonings. It was in the midst of these horrors that Edie was contracted to play her concert grand harp for an event featuring Bernie Siegel, M.D. As she had gotten in the habit of doing, she not only brought her concert harp with her that evening, but her small harp and some brochures describing harp therapy, as well. It took only a moment for Sheila Birnbaum, then Patient Relations Manager at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, to embrace Edie’s concept. Harp therapy was in fact, the very element Sheila felt her hospital needed, for RWJ Hamilton was actively treating the anthrax-infected postal workers.
Very quickly Sheila sought and received the enthusiastic support from then President and CEO, Christy Stephenson.
And with that, Bedside Harp® was born.
Learn a little more about what we do at hospitals.
Full Harp Therapy Programs
Three life care communities we are partnered with:
In January 2017, Bedside Harp became the fourth program to affiliate with and become accredited by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM), a group that collaboratively sets the standards for training programs. Before that, from 2005 through 2016, Bedside Harp’s harp therapy certification program was offered exclusively through the Allied Health Division of Bucks County Community College’s Continuing Education Department in Newtown, PA. The College offered 12 college music credits to our students graduating at the mastery level and is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the unit of Middle States Commission of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges in the middle states region which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and several international institutions.
As far as we know, from its inception in 2002 until 2016, Bedside Harp was the only exclusively college-based, hospital-hosted harp therapy training and certification program in the world. In June 2014, Bucks County Community College changed their policy regarding credits for Continuing Education courses. Consequently, we determined that after 2016, it would no longer be advantageous to our students to offer our program through them. The same rigorous, award-winning program is now offered directly through Bedside Harp. Please feel free to contact us should you wish further information on this.
The mission of Bedside Harp® is to promote the therapeutic use of the harp in healthcare and wellness. Committed to making a difference in those settings, we play for patients, the worried well and staff, teach staff and members of the community how to play the therapy harp, provide harp therapy training and certification, and participate in research projects. We exist to bring relief, comfort, and hope to patients, their families, and to the community. To achieve our mission, we are committed to:
Our vision is that certified harp therapists will come into their own and be viewed as an essential, integral part of all healthcare facilities including hospitals, cancer centers, surgical centers, nursing homes, rehabs, hospices, birthing centers, psychiatric, addiction and eating disorder treatment facilities as well as doctors’, dentists’, and chiropractic offices.
Working toward this, we are dedicated to:
- Raising awareness of the benefits of using the harp as an instrument of healing in healthcare and throughout the community.
- Documenting and disseminating the values of live harp through healthcare research.
- Developing and delivering the highest quality services and programs.
- Employing certified harp therapists, teachers and mentors who:
- comply with all laws and regulations that impact the arts in healthcare and healthcare professions;
- play and teach with competence and compassion;
- act with integrity;
- provide professional support for colleagues.
Our mission, vision and values call for an ethical commitment to patients, their families, healthcare professionals, students, colleagues, the community and to society.
Commitment to Patients and Clients
Bedside Harp® professional harp therapists and interns:
- provide visits to patients and clients with the utmost respect for their dignity and uniqueness, unrestricted by their social or economic status, personal attributes, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, philosophy, or the nature of their health problems;
- safeguard patients’ and clients’ right to privacy by judiciously protecting information of a confidential nature.
Commitment to Healthcare Professionals
Bedside Harp® professional harp therapists and interns:
- maintain competence and consistently strive toward excellence in performing their work in harp therapy;
- exercise informed judgment and use individual competence and qualifications as criteria in seeking consultation and accepting responsibilities;
- assume responsibility and accountability for individual judgments and actions;
- maintain integrity and honesty at all times;
- follow all rules, regulations and procedures set forth by the medical facility hosting our programs and services.
Commitment to Students
Bedside Harp® teachers and mentors will:
- interact with students, interns and colleagues in a professional, supportive, caring manner;
- encourage, guide and develop the musical, professional and personal potential of each student;
- treat each student with dignity and respect, without discrimination of any kind for any reason;
- respect students’ rights to obtain instruction from teacher and supervisors of his/her choice.
Commitment to Colleagues
As a member of the Arts in Healthcare community, Bedside Harp®is committed to participating in:
- efforts to establish and maintain conditions of employment conducive to the highest quality services;
- activities that contribute to the ongoing development of our profession’s body of knowledge;
- efforts to protect the public from misinformation and misrepresentation;
- efforts to implement and improve our standards.
Commitment to Society
- collaborates with others in promoting community and national efforts to meet the needs of the public;
- shall accurately represent itself and its graduates and students;
- is committed to being a resource in the community.
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will use my harp to the best of my ability to serve those who call me to their side.
I will treat all whom I serve with honor, warmth, understanding, compassion and love. I and each person I serve are equals—we are, each of us, connected to the other. All suffering is like my suffering; all joy is like my joy.
I commit myself to a lifetime of learning and professional and personal growth. My training and experience will be used to benefit all whom I serve.
I will not be ashamed to say “I do not know,” nor will I fail to ask for help and seek advice when needed.
I will respect the privacy of those whom I serve; their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to serve through a birth or through a death, all thanks. I will face such awesome responsibility with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.
I will remember that service is the work of the soul, resting on the premise that life is a holy mystery whose purpose is unknown.
I will respect the hard-won gains of those who have brought music and other arts to healthcare, those who have gone before me and in whose steps I walk. I will gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligation to all my fellow human beings, those of sound mind and body as well as the infirm.
May I enjoy life, music, art, poetry, love of family and friends, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of serving those who wish me to be by their side.