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Anna Thormahlen Jenkins: what I do...

This page discusses the areas of music in which I am involved:
~ Music arranging
~ Worship music
~ Therapeutic music
~ Wedding music
~ Private music lessons

Music Arranging

I love the process of taking a melody and arranging it for solo harp, several harps, or harp and other instruments! For me, it's like creating a musical jigsaw puzzle. There are so many interesting ways to put all the musical tones, colors and textures together to create a finished composition. The Eastside Harp Circle has been most generous, playing many of my drafts of works in progress! Several of my arrangements for solo harp and harp ensemble have been published by the Reigning Harps Newsletter and the Folk Harp Journal, a quarterly publication of the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen. In 2006, while traveling to the Southeast Harp Weekend in Asheville, NC, I began writing collaboratively with Sharon Thormahlen. Our first harp duet piece is called "The Birds of Blue Ridge." Then in 2008, once again in Asheville, Sharon and I co-wrote an ensemble piece called "Prelude for Peace." You can hear it performed in concert at a New England church if you go to my Links section. Sharon and I completed a book of harp duets in 2012, "Cabin Fever for Two," published by Afghan Press and in July of 2016 we released our second duet book, "Under the Double Rainbow." This book contains five unique arrangements, three of which are our originals. Other works of mine include trios for harp, guitar and fiddle; arrangements for a folk quartet I am in, "Just Us"; and various arrangements for 3 or 4 harps, usually graciously tested out by my harp circle! Sibelius Software is the notation program I use.

Worship and Special Event Music

The harp can create a reverent atmosphere for worship. Its soft, mellow tones compliment prayer, while its larger voice can accompany hymns. If desired, harp music can replace the organ or piano in a service. I have found that the harp lends itself well to other instruments and various styles in worship. It can mesh well with classical music, fill in with harmonies or play melody in folk music, play unique sounds for alternative music, and can provide great bass for Latin sounds and World Music. As of January 2012, I am playing music with my husband, Don, as a harp/guitar duo called Instruments of Peace. (Check us out under Links...instruments-of-peace.com) In addition to our duo music, we join with musicians at whatever church we are visiting to provide service music together.

2017 brought me some exciting performance opportunities, much to my surprise! In January I began rehearsing with harpist Mona Terry who recently moved to the Seattle area. We are performing together as RESONANCE - Pacifica Harp Duo. Our mission is to promote peace and unity through music. What a joy it is to not only practice with, but to perform with such a talented and creative musician as Mona!

And...(this is the surprising part) two friends and I formed a trio we call Nasty Woman (remember that speech during the last Trump/Clinton debate??) We sing together in various combinations as well as play instrumental music combining flute, guitar and harp. Every 4th Monday we perform as the warmup act for Easy Speak Seattle, a poetry/music open mic session at the Wedgewood Ale House just north of the University of WA.

Therapeutic Music

In 2005 I became a Certified Music Practitioner through the MHTP program (Music for Healing and Transition). This work has taken me to private homes, group homes, assisted living centers and nursing care centers. It has allowed me to offer music to people as a form of therapy.

Q: What is "therapeutic music" ?

A: Therapeutic music is offered as a service (not a performance) to the critically ill and post-surgical patients in hospital, the elderly in assisted living and nursing or convalescent centers, and the dying in hospice. Often this music is played at the bedside so the patient can receive maximum benefit from the vibration of the harp strings.

After providing more than 800 sessions of therapeutic music, I have observed that music positively benefits patients through:
• Anxiety reduction
• Relaxation of the body
• Pain reduction
• Emotional and mental distress reduction
• Brief “escape” from illness
• Positive impact on family and staff

Below are some case study examples showing the positive effects of therapeutic music. I have compiled these examples from my own practice.

ANXIETY REDUCTION:
Patient – 78 year old male, Congestive Heart Failure, receiving oxygen; very anxious and unable to sleep.
After applying gentle and appropriate harp music that matched the patient’s breathing, the patient fell asleep. He was very interested in the music and tried to clap after the first few songs, but became drowsy and slept. The music soothed him and took his mind off of the source of his agitation.

Patient – 68 year old male, lower GI bleed, hooked up to many monitors; very agitated.
Following our session, this man commented, “Listening to your harp makes it impossible to think of anything except gentle, pleasant thoughts.”

Patient – 51 year old female, kidney failure; anxious and fearful.
Following our session, she said to me, “While I listen I can imagine this sound to be like the world was before there was genocide, wars, hate.”


RELAXATION OF THE BODY
Patient – 53 year old male, pneumonia, head injury; on a ventilator.
I played soft and soothing music and tried to entrain with the patient’s monitor. His wife stood by his side and held his hand. Half way through the 30 minute session, she let go of his hand, looked at me and whispered, “He finally relaxed.” The patient was asleep.

Patient – 55 year old male, back pain, cause unknown.
This patient relaxed during the session, closed his eyes and leaned back in his bed. He said, “I wish your music was a river; I’d just jump in.”


PAIN REDUCTION:
Patient – 40 year old male, intense pain.
The patient was rocking and moaning when the session began. As the music soothed him, he became quiet. I paused, thinking he was asleep. He said, “I hope you’re not stopping!” I continued to play and he was soon in a deep sleep.


EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL DISTRESS REDUCTION:
Patient – young male in early twenties, mental health unit.
I played during the lunch meal at the request of a hospital employee. This particular young man was very interested in harps. He talked to me about David’s harp (Bible) and told his counselor this (hearing the harp) was “an answer to prayer.”

Patient – 59 year old female, unstable mentally, failure to thrive.
This woman was curled up in a fetal position in her bed and made a high-pitched sound every 5-10 seconds during most of the session. Occasionally she would utter a word or two. Whenever I stopped playing, she would say quickly, in a very high voice, “Could you play a little more?” The patient seemed less agitated at the end of the session and thanked me several times in her little, high voice.


BRIEF "ESCAPE" FROM ILLNESS
Patient – 63 year old female, right hip failure.
The patient’s husband was present the entire session. After several fairly upbeat tunes to match the mood of this couple, the patient said, “We could listen to this all day!” They enjoyed the diversion from the hospital routine. Meanwhile, in the next bed, behind the curtain… the neighboring patient had said she wanted to listen but did not want the curtain opened. When I was done playing, I poked by head into her side of the room to tell her goodbye. With tears in her eyes she said, “You were sent from God today. I was terrible to the doctor and others earlier this morning and feel awful about it. The music touched me. You tamed the savage beast.”


POSITIVE IMPACT ON FAMILY AND STAFF
Patient – 74 year old female, COPD; anxious and nervous.
After playing slow and calming music for 20 minutes, this patient became noticeably less restless. As I was leaving, her daughter, who had been in the room the entire time, gave an audible sigh and said, “Harp music is like a massage for the soul.”

Nurses and other staff -
When I arrive on a floor, I typically check in with the charge nurse and review the patients I am to see that day. Every time, without fail, someone will say something like,“Can’t you just sit here and play for us? It is so relaxing!”

Wedding Music

A Little Story: Once upon a time...

...about three decades ago, a wedding brought Anna and Don together. Anna’s cousin, knowing each of them separately, and knowing they each loved music, asked Anna and Don to sing a duet for her wedding. After several rehearsals they sang at the wedding, and a year later, went from being partners in music to partners in life. At their own wedding, they learned something that has become the basis for the way they work with clients:

A wedding is not a performance. It is an experience, and you have invited people you care about to share in that experience. A wedding is YOU, the couple, and this moment in time. The music should reflect YOU and enhance your wedding experience.

Music We Offer
• Wedding Ceremony Music and/or Reception Music
• Celtic harp - solo
• Celtic harp and guitar - instrumentals
• Celtic harp, voice, and guitar – tenor vocal and instrumental
• Other instruments – we can assist in engaging additional folk, classical or jazz instrumentalists and vocalists when desired for the ceremony or reception.

Private Music Lessons

Teaching has always brought me great joy. My skills from teaching elementary and secondary public school music classes have been useful as I have worked with children and adults in learning the Celtic harp. TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: My highest priority is conveying a love of music and the harp to my students. I seek ways to inspire each person based on individual personality and temperament. Lessons provide a solid musical foundation for a student which includes harp playing fundamentals, rhythm and note reading skills, music theory, ear training, music history, and improvisation. As of the Fall of 2016, I am teaching only a few students on a very limited basis. I am devoting more time to writing and arranging. Thank you, Students, for 11 years of learning and creating music together!