Reverie Therapeutic Harp
rev•er•ie noun a state of dreamy meditation or repose
Never before has there been an instrument that so easily lends itself to such a wide variety of therapeutic situations.
Designed and invented by MusicMakers in Stillwater, MN in collaboration with Australian music thanatologist Peter Roberts, the Reverie Harp is fast becoming a must-have tool for music therapists, visitation ministers/chaplains, activity directors, and nursing homes care-givers.
Why is this instrument so successful?
- Beautiful shape is inviting - everyone wants to hold this instrument
- Lightweight and comfortable to hold for even the most frail individuals
- Pentatonic tuning means there is simply no wrong way to play this instrument
- Players love feeling the vibrations through the wood
"I'm finding that when I bring the Reverie Harp into a one to one visit it's a great entree. It's another vehicle to open up a person's heart."
-Ann Bergstrom, Chaplain
"Ultimately I do what I do to help the people I'm working with. This tool helps me to do that."
Dr. Annie Heiderscheit, Board Certified Music Therapist
Introduction to the Reverie Harp
Reverie Harp in Therapeutic Settings
How is the Reverie Harp played?
The simple answer is: You play the Reverie Harp however you want.
With our pentatonic tuning there are no wrong notes. You can -
- strum all the strings
- pluck indivual strings
- pluck any two or more strings together
- strum it with a pick
- tap it with hammered dulcimer hammers or even pencil
However you choose to play the Reverie Harp - it will sound good!
Playing songs on the Reverie Harp
There are a few pentatonic melodies that can be played on the Reverie Harp. We offer songsheets that slide right under the strings so you can simply follow the notes to play songs.
Reverie Tuning Sheets
These tuning sheets can be printed and just slide them under your Reverie Harp to follow the correct tuning configuration:
What is the difference between the Reverie Harp 2 and the Reverie Harp 2 Deluxe?
The Reverie 2 is our economy model. We use poplar sides and a plywood baltic birch soundboard. Using a plywood for the soundboard means we save money in materials and labor. The plywood top does not provide as rich of a tone as the solid mahogany soundboards on the Reverie 2 Deluxe. However, keep in mind, that this is only noticeable during a side by side comparison. The Reverie 2 still has a full and rich sound and is used and loved by many!
How is the Reverie Harp tuned?
REVERIE TUNING: The standard Reverie tuning is a Pentatonic (5-note) scale in the key of C major. Those notes are C, D, E, G, & A (everything but the B and F notes). This makes the instrument harmonious no matter what notes you play together. When you pluck the strings randomly, even with your eyes closed, you will hear beautiful harmony – kind of like the tones of a wind chime.
We also have two alternative tunings, though very few people use them:
MEDITATION TUNING: This is a C minor pentatonic scale. The notes are C, D, E-flat, G, and A. The suggested use for this tuning is for a person who is quite depressed, as it expresses that sort of mood.
LULLABYE TUNING: This tuning divides the harp into two halves, left and right. We tune the left side to the C major pentatonic scale, and the right side to a D minor pentatonic scale. This arrangement allows a person to accompany songs with several chords, because the left side works well for the C and A minor chords, and the right side works for the F, D minor, and G7 chords. People use this tuning when they want to sing with the harp.
We recommend having a chromatic electronic tuner to aid in achieving accurate tuning. The harp comes with a tuning chart that slides under the strings, and a tuning key (wrench) for the pins. Our DVD includes instructions for tuning, using an electronic tuner.
What kind of music can be played on this instrument?
The Reverie Harp is not really designed for playing music. You can pick out a few simple pentatonic melodies if you explore around on it to find the right notes (Amazing Grace, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Row Your Boat, Three Blind Mice, Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc). But this is not the main purpose of the harp.
Think of this as more of a therapy tool for non-musicians than a musical instrument for musicians. We designed it specifically so that a person does not need to engage the mind to enjoy pleasant sounds. So the word “play” does not mean “perform” on this harp. You “play with” this harp. You can close your eyes and play with it – we call it “noodling around” on the strings. A child can play with it, a person with limitations can enjoy playing with it.
So if you can’t play songs, what is the instrument for?
Relaxation, mostly. People use it for simple fun, dreamy relaxation, soothing harmonies, tactile stimulation, resonant vibrations, satisfaction of instant pleasure/success.
The harp also is useful as a tool to stimulate conversation and interaction. Two people can play together, one playing each half, to make musical harmonies together. You can start a conversation by asking things like, “What does this sound remind you of?”, or “How does this make you feel?”, or “What do you think the rosette (tree) symbolizes?”, etc.
We know of chaplains, counselors and therapists who use the Reverie Harp to help people relax and to open up meaningful conversations about feelings, memories, and deeper thoughts. It is a good tool for “breaking the ice” and moving quickly into important issues.
The harp can make many sound effects for story telling. Strum across the range for every time the scene (or page) changes, pluck high strings to represent a bird chirping or a kite flying, Pluck low notes to represent a large person talking or animal roaring, tap the wood for door-knocking or woodpecker pecking, scratch the thicker strings quickly for eerie sounds or slowly for the sound of a creaking door, and many more creative ideas.
How, exactly do you play the Reverie Harp?
A person can pluck individual strings, multiple strings (using thumb and fingers), or strum across a few or all of the strings. The only thing to avoid is harsh banging or strumming. Some people use a guitar pick, but most people just use their finger tips or fingernails.
An instructional DVD gives some detailed coaching on playing nice rhythms by finger-picking with the thumb and one or two fingers, but these are advanced techniques that are not important for success.
How often does the Reverie Harp need to be tuned?
The harp is quite stable after the first 3-4 tunings, but you should expect to tune it at least once per week if you need it to be in tune with other instruments. If you only play the harp by itself, however, you may not need to tune it that frequently because all the strings tend to settle quite evenly across the harp.
What happens if a string breaks?
The strings are not prone to breaking unless you over-tune to a higher pitch. This can occur inadvertently if you are plucking one string and adjusting the pin for another string. You might over-tighten one string because you don’t see movement in the pitch of the one you are plucking. So you want to be careful to keep track of which string you are tuning and what note it should be tuned to.
We use common guitar strings (ball-end steel) on the Reverie Harp. If you break a string, you can purchase replacements from MusicMakers, or you can take the scrap of broken string to a local music store that sells guitar strings and buy a similar string. The store won’t have a complete set of strings for the Reverie Harp, but they should offer individual guitar strings.
Many people purchase a spare set of strings from MusicMakers just to avoid the hassle of having to search for replacements.
How do you disinfect the Reverie Harp for use in a hospital?
You can wipe down the harp (strings and wood) with disinfectant wipes that are commonly used in hospitals. These products are safe for your hands, so they will be safe for the harp too. We think disinfectant wipes are easier to use than sprays or foams.
Reverie Harps and related accessories ship direct to your door from Stillwater, Minnesota.