More than beautiful music, the therapeutic harp program offers rest, hope and peace...

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Discover the benefits of the Therapeutic Harp Program

The Therapeutic Harp program is a professional bedside service offering harp music at Canberra Hospital, the Canberra Region Cancer Centre (CRCC), Clare Holland House, and the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, plus University of Canberra Hospital.

This unique service is available to all patients, provided by Alison Ware, Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Clinical Musician. There are many heartwarming benefits to patients, their loved ones and families, plus those who hear the soothing music drifting down the corridor.

If you would like to arrange a therapeutic harp session for a patient in hospital, please contact Alison Ware on 0402 134 479.

As a complementary modality, therapeutic harp can provide beauty, deep rest and peace.

The service is patient centred, with music specifically tailored to each individual patient and chosen to support health, comfort and wellbeing.

The intention is to enhance quality of life to all patients across Canberra Health Service campuses, offering support through the universal language of music.

The purpose of the therapeutic harp service is neither to entertain nor to give a performance, but to provide a quiet space for rest, reflection and wellbeing.

Benefits of live harp music

  • Promotes wellbeing, deep rest, relaxation & facilitates sleep
  • Uplifts, energizes and provides joy
  • Facilitates reminiscence, mental clarity & stimulates memory
  • Allows for the release of emotion and grieving
  • Offers comfort care at end of life
  • Assists in pain management
  • May assist fatigue, depression anxiety and stress
  • Reduces isolation and provides social connection
  • Provides distraction
  • Enhances a patient’s hospital stay and can provide a welcoming and calm space within all hospital areas

"There were many passing comments that the music made a difference to the overall feel and soundscape of the hospital and ward areas. Many patients came and sat at their doorways to talk and listen to the music. Staff commented that it helped dispel the overall feeling of anxiety and stress experienced during the pandemic."

"Alison recently spent a lot of time with one of our long term ICU patients who very much looked forward to these visits and feedback included how the harp helped them cope with the ICU environment."

About Alison

Alison is a Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Clinical Musician, and has qualifications in mindfulness meditation, art therapy and spiritual care.

A 'come and try the harp' workshop inspired Alison to learn to play the harp. This led her on a journey to gain more skills and qualifications to be able to offer such a unique service.

Alison’s broad and diverse work history enables her to bring a wide variety of skills to honour, respect and support people experiencing physical, emotional and spiritual pain.
Alison also assists patients who wish to hire a harp to play, and has cardboard play harps for kids.
As a Clinical Musician, Alison will look for visual cues and adjust her music to suit what the patient requires. 
Although Alison has 14 harps, she has 5 that are used for her clinical work, with care taken for infection control and safety measures on sites.

"Thank you very much for coming and playing the harp for our patients in the Geriatric Special Care Unit (GSCU). The staff said that when you played, all the patients were quiet and calm and very happy to listen and enjoy. They said they were mesmerised. Additionally, one of the patients who has particularly challenging behaviours was commenting after you left that the music was “amazing” and “beautiful” and asked where you had gone – keen to listen to more music!" Violet, CNC, Ward 11A

About the harp

The harp is an ancient instrument and has long been associated with the Healing Arts.
The harp possesses unique acoustic qualities which provide a soothing calming tone.
A range of harps allow for a wide pitch range and a unique warm sound, making them wonderful instruments for use in healthcare.
It is a beautiful, resonant polyphonic instrument used for thousands of years to soothe the human spirit.

"Thank you so much for your cheerfulness and the harp's serene melodies - just what the Doctor ordered. She has been depressed and your visit was highly valued." - Family member

"Thank you so much for your visit. Your beautiful music gave my husband and I much needed rest." - Margaret

How is the harp program funded?

The Therapeutic Harp Program provided by Harp Care Music is funded by generous donations to Canberra Hospital Foundation through Dry July, Canberra Hospital Auxiliary, Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and the Canberra community.
To help fund this and other valuable patient support programs, please consider making a donation.

Impact made in 2023

"This year I continued to offer bedside music sessions, music in patient facing ward areas, I played for four baby memorial services, and provided 68 end of life/comfort care sessions for patients and their families."


individual patient visits


areas visited within CHS campuses and health facilities


music vigils provided as part of comfort care and end of life care for patients and their loved one

If you would like to arrange a therapeutic harp session for a patient in hospital, please contact
Alison Ware on 0402 134 479 or via email: 

"Palliation on busy, chaotic medical wards always presents such a challenge for families to have reflective, quiet time with their loved ones. I am so grateful that your service provides a beautiful and much needed interlude that is essential in good end of life care." Cate, Social Worker

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