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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Laurence Marie, Therapeutic Musician

Laurence Marie, Therapeutic Musician

Laurence Marie’s website at www.harpsylon.ca  opens with her harp music playing gently in the background, and the soothing colour of spring green pages describing her services as a Therapeutic Musician in the south-east New Brunswick area.   I have known Laurence for years, personally and professionally, and recommend her skills and her services.

 Laurence Marie's life journey took many twists and turns before culminating in her vocation as a certified harp therapy practitioner. She was born in Aix-en-Provence, France, where she took piano lessons until the age of 14.

After high school, she trained as a registered nurse in England, moved to Corsica, then Canada, living in Ontario for five years before arriving in New Brunswick. By then she was a wife and mother, and with her young daughter, attended Suzuki violin lessons, which led her to the Université de Moncton for a music degree.

Some years later, as Laurence was dealing with personal health issues, she studied natural therapy and homeopathy. She then began looking for a way to combine her knowledge and skills as a nurse, a musician and a natural therapist, or as she says, "put all of the components of my life together. I found a program in California, but first I needed to learn to play the harp. I began with Esther Underhay in Riverview. After she returned to the U.S. in 1997, I studied for 10 years with Dorothy Brzezicki and during that time I was accepted into the International Harp Therapy program in San Diego, completing an intensive year in 2000."

Therapeutic music is an art based on the science of sound in which acoustic music is played and tailored to the immediate needs of the client, using the intrinsic elements of music: that is, vibrations, resonance and entrainment.  Since the harp is the musical instrument that vibrates the most, it affects the entire body, allowing for relaxation, or focused concentration, depending upon the mode used by the harpist.

Notes and scales tend to resonate with different parts of the body, relieving pain or discomfort. Entrainment involves the use of music that will encourage brain waves of 7 to 12 cycles per second for alert relaxation or 12 to 18 cycles per second for optimum working efficiency. People who are stressed or anxious may have brain waves as high as 30 cycles per second, indicating a mind that is literally "racing." Music played with a regular tempo also encourages a regular heartbeat.

Therapeutic Music is for everyone from birth to end of life.  It can be used before, during and after birth and also for premature infants. Hospitalized children and those with special needs (autism, CP, ADHD, Down syndrome etc.) also benefit from Therapeutic Music. 

It can be used for adults with special needs (CP, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s etc.) or those in rehabilitation following a cerebrovascular accident. 

Therapeutic Music can be used for people in Intensive care, Post-Operative care, Oncology, Palliative care as well as for end of life vigils.

Benefits of Therapeutic Music / Harp Therapy

It helps with: 
  • pain
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • muscular tension
  • stress
  • lowering blood pressure
  • regulating
  • pulse and respiratory rate
  • gentler transitioning 

Vibro-Acoustic Harp Therapy


In addition to the harps, Laurence has a vibro-acoustic mattress which rests on a standard massage table and is connected to her harp through an amplifier. She uses this with adults with neurological issues, such as Parkinson's or MS. While it's not a cure for those chronic conditions, Laurence says the symptoms can be alleviated, as areas of stress and pain are relieved.

While confidentiality precludes naming clients, the mother of one young man, who had suffered brain injury as a result of diabetic coma said, "It was a great relief to know that music therapy, specifically harp therapy, was available here. I had done some research and learned it could be beneficial in many circumstances, including cases of brain injury. My son was Laurence's client for five years. He enjoyed the sessions, responded well to her music and conversation and, quite frankly, the sessions provided peace and comfort to all of us. Our family is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with her and experience first hand how beneficial harp therapy sessions are."

Some of Laurence's clients are children who have been diagnosed with autism.  "The parents find that music calms them," she says, "and the teachers say they see an improvement in their work. One of the children I worked with finally started talking - at age 11.”

"When I work with children with autism, I have them sit on the other side of the harp, so that the strings act as a screen, since they are not comfortable with physical closeness. (Recently), a 10-year old boy put his fingers though the strings to touch mine and I thought I'd melt, as children with that condition usually refuse touch. The harp seems to break through their shell.”

By logging on to Laurence Marie's website, www.harpsylon.ca  you can enjoy a few moments of relaxation as you listen to her play while you read more about her work.

Laurence Marie can be reached by phone at 506- 532-5616 (office) or 506- 533-6856 (cell) or lym@nbnet.nb.ca. 

Note: some private health insurance companies do cover either the entire cost or a portion thereof for Vibro-Acoustic Harp Therapy sessions. They may also be covered by Social Services in New Brunswick.

All information and photos are from www.harpsylon.ca 

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