Kathryn with Phillip Kinne

How flexible is it? Can I take it at my own pace?

Flexibility is built into the program. The AHS (At-Home Study Program) can be taken completely online, or a combination of online and a 1 week module. You study at your own pace and finish the program quickly, or take up to 6 months for each of the 5 units – giving you 2 1/2 years to finish.

The At-HomeStudy Handbook is a comprehensive text of the International Harp Therapy Program: goals, objectives, unit study, student and mentor responsibilities, computer requirements, required music pieces, and more. We suggest that you download a copy and read through it, as it will answer many questions that you may have.

ESM – Experiential Specialty Module – The Experiential Specialty Module requires in-person attendance for all students. This is a week long Module. The ESM is scheduled at venues in many countries, and you can take it anywhere it is offered. This allows the program to be quite flexible and moderately paced for all students. The Experiential module (which is an extension of Unit 4) enables the student to be ‘recommended for Hospice work,’ as opposed to those who only take the theoretical Unit 4 about Resonance.

Prep School – Finally, students may join the PREP school and take extra time to prepare musically for the following year and for the two admission dates per year – March 1 and September 1. There is much that the student can accomplish while waiting for these two dates to enter the program.

How much of it is done alone at home?

This program is now set up to be a complete At-Home Study program. The student can take the Experiential module in-person in lieu of much of the work of Unit 4.  Students complete assignments on their own; however, each student will have an assigned approved mentor whom they can turn to with questions. The Internship at a healthcare facility is completed in your own area. There also opportunities in San Diego for 10 day internships, and other locations worldwide.

Do I record myself playing and then send in recordings?

Yes. For the music development portion of the program, you will record your pieces of music and send them to your mentor as .mp3s via email, or upload them to your account on our server where you and your mentor can access them.

Your mentor will listen to your work to see if you use the techniques and patterns taught in the lessons. Recordings are 3 to 4 minutes in length and contain a lesson tune from which you begin to play, and after, segue into an improvisation in the same key, mode and tempo. You will use at least two of the left hand patterns from the lesson, and more if you are comfortable. You will play these pieces as if you are at the bedside of a patient.

How much of the course is written essays and book-learning,
 compared with playing and giving practice treatment sessions?

You will be responsible for a total of seven quizzes, reading 11 books and writing 1/2 page – 1 page book reviews, writing 4 2-4 page reflection papers, and submitting documentation of your 80 hour internship.

The written work comprises 1/3 of the program; playing music, and developing your music skills another 1/3; and practice treatment sessions with patients (or in your area of specialty) the final 1/3 of the program.

Do I get hands-on experience with real patients?

Yes. Your Internship commences once you have completed Unit 3. At the ESM you will understand the process of Inclusive Attention (IA) and finding Resonant Tone (RT). Your Internship will be far richer when you use the techniques of Resonance presented in Unit 4 and the ESM.

Should I practice on my friends?

Absolutely! Verbal feedback is a bonus while learning.

Are there any scholarships available?

Each year the Jan Pennington Scholarship fund awards a $500.00 scholarship. Applications are due by November 1st. At least one person in a Therapeutic Harp Program is awarded the scholarship. You can get the application form here.

Apart from the compulsory practical section that happens face-to-face, 
are there other optional opportunities to meet up with tutors or fellow students?

There are many opportunities to get to know IHTP instructors, mentors, and fellow students. As a student, we ask for your photograph to post on our site (only IHTP affiliated people can view these photos). When you attend the ESM or other IHTP Conference in North America, Europe, or Asia, you will meet instructors and other students. We welcome you to all of these meeting opportunities.

Are there other students in the online program?  Will I be able to communicate with them? Is that expected/required?

Yes, you will have fellow classmates and will be able to communicate through our conference calls, our Facebook Group, Twitter and of course, directly with one another. It is not expected or required, but encouraged. We learn from each others’ questions and answers.

How is the program assessed?

The National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM) has certified the International Harp Therapy Program using an independent certification committee. The IHTP has met the rigorous standards of the NSBTM.

All student work – recordings, quizzes, papers, and more – are assessed by mentors, while a student’s Internship is supervised by an independent healthcare professional at a facility.  The student is encouraged to upload her/his work to the IHTP server for access, storage and dissemination by the student and the mentor.
At program’s end, the student compiles her/his work according to directions provided in the At-Home Study Handbook. We encourage you to create a Web site as a Certified Harp Therapy Practitioner so potential employers may easily find out about you, and listen to some of your work. You may wish to also develop a physical portfolio to take along on interviews. International students can complete the portfolio in their native languages, with key parts in English for the mentor to evaluate. Eventually we plan to have our multilingual mentors assist in translations. In addition to English, some of our mentors are native speakers of Spanish, Japanese, French, Dutch and German.

Does everyone graduate?

Acceptance into the program does not guarantee that you will graduate and be certified. Not everyone chooses to finish the program.  Students who experience challenges along the way are strongly encouraged to work closely with their mentors. Some students may be advised that their skills are more suited in a particular health care facility – hospital, hospice, senior center, etc. In rare cases, we may advise you that your skills set is best realized in other ways.

Can I repeat or re-sit sections? At what extra cost?

Yes. You may take the program again – some practitioners who have done this are amazed at how much more they derive from it the second time around! The fee is $300. We estimate that each unit takes 45-60 hours to complete – approximately 8-10 hours per month. However, this does not include learning music and practice time at your harp!  We encourage a minimum of 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week practice time. The six month period to complete a Unit is twice as long as our old, past format.

What is the title/certification I will receive, and by whom is it recognized?

You will hold the title of “Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner (CTHP)” by the International Harp Therapy Program. Our Program is accredited with the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM). Health care facilities often contact us for proof of certification. New laws in a growing number of states in the United States are now requiring everyone working in healthcare facilities to have professional certification with regard to the execution of their professional duties.

What are the vocational prospects?

The vocational prospects are wide and varied. Most of our graduates work in senior living centers, hospitals and hospices. Others work in birthing rooms, children’s hospitals, cancer support centers, private sector, at-risk teen centers and centers for children with developmental needs. Still others work in prisons and animal shelters. We serve the critically and chronically ill, and the dying.

Will I get advice and training in getting work in this arena?

You will learn about different marketing skills and methods, and one of our graduates has developing a marketing program specifically tailored to therapeutic harp practitioners. It is important to note that most practitioners who are successfully employed achieved their positions based on their musical skills, personalities and entrepreneurship skills. It is up to the newly certified practitioner to obtain their own employment; that said, there are many IHTP practitioners who are more than willing share advice and experience to newly certified practitioners. Our Facebook Group is very exciting in that regard, with an average of 5-7 postings a day about their experiences at their facilities. Some of our graduates walk directly into the facilities where they completed their internship as paid employees.

What percentage of previous graduates have gained work?

IHTP graduates consistently fall into three categories: 1/3 are employed in facilities; 1/3 serve as volunteers*; and 1/3, while certified, choose to use their qualifications only for their own personal and musical growth. At our recent International Conference in 2015 in San Diego, 70% of our graduates were in paying positions.

*We stress that there are areas where it is appropriate and inappropriate to volunteer. In a facility employing a trained music therapist, music thanatologist or other trained therapeutic musician, volunteering may undercut this person’s rightful employment. We require our graduates to abide by a strong ethics code that prohibits causing harm to other music healing professionals.

Do I need liability insurance?

As an intern you are covered by the IHTP. Newly certified and established practitioners must obtain their own insurance and it can be obtained by the ABMP here. A subscription to the the Harp Therapy Journal will reward you with a discount for your liability insurance.

What is a CTHP relationship to a Music Therapist?

Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioners are NOT Music Therapists. Music Therapists enroll in a 4-year program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree; often, many pursue Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Music Therapy. Their scope of practice is different than that of a therapeutic musician. This is explained in great detail in our Program. Our students and practitioners must constantly educate employers, the public, and the media about our scope of practice as Therapeutic Musicians as opposed to Board Certified Music Therapists and Music-Thanatologists. A description of the differences can be found at

What qualifications and experience do students tend to have prior to starting the program?

We have a very diverse student body – those with high-school educations, those who have attended college and graduate school, and retirees who are lifelong learners in their 70’s! The person who enrolls in our program is usually one with a deep commitment to serve humanity. Our students have accrued life experiences and know the powerful nature that music has on people, and want to use music to improve the lives of others. Some of our students who graduated were music majors seeking more than applause at the end of a performance. Other students are from care-giving professions who have a love of music and want to add another dimension to their practice to help others.

Most importantly, people who come to harp therapy learn quickly that it is not about “entertainment” (although from an outside perspective, it may seem that way to some). Instead, harp practitioners intentionally use the power of sound to support healing. By matching a listener’s resonance, their mood, their breathing tempo, and musical preferences, a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner can induce a relaxation response,  leading to an increase the patient’s oxygenation levels, less anxiety and pain. Our interactive approach also elevates the mood of the patient, increasing these benefits. See our HEARTMATH Web page to view how we can measure this.

IHTP does not discriminate in any way on the basis of age, creed, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, sexual orientation, or the like in the administration of its policies and programs. We do require that participants are 18 years of age.

What are the requirements for people who have completed other programs,  such as Therapeutic programs, Music Therapy, Music Thanatology?

We offer cross-training for graduates of other therapeutic music programs, such as music therapy, music-thanatology, and other programs meeting the standards of the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians. These students – known as “Other Program Graduates (OPGs)” in our program, are required to meet all of our music standards, beginning with improvisation in the modes as taught by Creative Harping Video Series. OPGs are responsible for fewer tunes to record than other students. They must complete an internship and submit their timesheet and experiences via journal entries. They must also submit reflection papers based on personal observations and discoveries gleaned through experiences with, and using, IHTP methods and practices. A reduced tuition fee applies for these graduates. A review of the standards module may be taken for a reduced fee.

Do I need to: be able to read music?  already play the harp?  have some therapeutic experience or understanding?

We have two tracks in the program to address students with different skill levels.

The beginner track is for those who have limited skills on the harp. Usually these people are care-givers who are interested in learning the instrument with the goal of using it therapeutically. We encourage this beginner to engage a local harp teacher, or one that we recommend who will teach them via Skype in the comfort of their own home.

The intermediate/advanced track is for those with better harp skills who are in need of knowledge or skills in these areas: hospital procedures, the effects of medications, counseling conversations, resonant tone identification, modulations, and improvisation. These students may study the Creative Harping Video Series (available in physical DVDs or via streaming video on our Web site) to learn and improve improvisation skills and repertoire as they work their way through the IHTP program.

How much will all this cost if I don’t already have it (over and above the cost of the course itself)? What materials, instruments and equipment will I need to successfully complete the course?

The total IHTP tuition cost is $2500.00* and includes this comprehensive array of subject areas:

◦    Psychology/Counseling
◦    Living Anatomy
◦    Inclusive Attention
◦    Resonance – and Resonant Tone
◦    Hospital Etiquette/Self Care
◦    Death and Dying
◦    Music Therapy practices for mental health services and rehabilitation
◦    Scientific Developments in Sound Research
◦    Acoustics
◦    Music Development – including repertoire, improvisation, balancing energies with sound

Students have access to:

◦    Keynote speaker on conference calls.
◦    Independent study with supervisor and their payment
◦    Evaluations and mentorship on Video study
◦    In-Hospice Experience
◦    Online downloads to music and support materials

Not included in this cost are private music lessons (if needed), required and elective text books, and the 10 Creative Harping Video Series lessons – available in physical DVD format or as streaming video from our Web site.

The At-Home Study Handbook contains a detailed breakdown of content for each of the five units in the Program.

See TUITION COSTS and also review the GET STARTED pages.

Any harp can be used in your practice of becoming a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner. The larger harps have a bass resonance that smaller harps lack. However, the portability of smaller therapy harps make them much more convenient in a room and ideal for interactive work with the patient or their family members. Most of our graduates find that a professional quality therapy harp is an investment that pays off in their daily work at facilities.

Do I require special software or top-grade computer and recording equipment?

If you have access to a computer with a microphone and a Web cam made after 2010, you should be fine. The IHTP is responsible for maintaining the Web sites and downloads you access for your lessons. If there is a problem with one of our pages, we are quick to respond.
You are responsible for knowing how to use a Web browser, send email, upload a file, and other basic computing tasks. All of this is outlined in our At-Home Study Handbook. You may attend our conference calls using your computer, mobile device, or smartphone. Detailed information may be found in the At-Home Study Handbook.

How many years has the IHTP Program been running?

The program began in 1994 in Vermont at the Fletcher Allen Medical Center- Burlington. By 1996 we grew to include Florida (Shands Hospital, Gainesville) and Oregon (St. Charles Hospital, Eugene) and in 1997 added our San Diego site. In 1998, we became incorporated in the State of California and have built a strong affiliation with San Diego area hospices since that time. In 2004 we began our International affiliates program with Japan and the UK, and in 2009, expanded to mainland Europe. In 2013 we became affiliated with APREVA Hospice after San Diego Hospice closed. We now have teaching centers in Europe and Brazil.

Are all my instructors and mentors truly experienced in the field? Are they the best in their field? Can I read their CVs/resumés?

Yes, all mentors are graduates of the program and have been carefully selected for their ability to effectively teach and impart the knowledge that you will be gaining through this program. You may find CVs and resumes of the instructors on the instructors page.

What is the difference between “instructor,” “mentor,” “site supervisor” and the “SKYPE teacher?”

The instructor teaches his or her content via video online or in person at the Experiential Module.

The mentor is a graduate of the program who will be collecting and evaluating your recording submissions, and your written materials. Your mentor is responsible for keeping you on track as you progress through the program. Your mentor is paid 15 hours of consulting time as part of your tuition fee. If you exceed 15 hours, you are responsible for the mentor’s fee if you choose to have extra contact. More detailed information about the mentor’s responsibilities is available in the At-Home Study Handbook.

Your site supervisor is the person at the health facility in which you complete your internship. The site supervisor may be a chaplain, nurse, physician, hospice volunteer, or volunteer coordinator. They are responsible for viewing your interaction with patients, and communicating feedback to you on the session.forms for them to fill out.

The Skype teacher (for beginners) will be an IHTP graduate who is also an experienced music teacher with a concentration in harp. S/he will help you develop to a point where you can apply to the program, submit two recorded improvisations, and a quiz. You are responsible for the cost of these lessons.

Are there professional development activities available once I am certified?

Certified Harp Therapy Practitioners are encouraged to continue their professional development and seek to improve existing skills sets and development new ones. Practitioners must earn 20 CEUs every 2 years t0 maintain their certification. There are many ways to earn CEUs – this is detailed in the At-Home Study Handbook.

What the role of my mentor?

The mentor is responsible for listening and evaluating your recordings from each Unit. The mentor reviews your book reviews, and reflection papers. S/he will spend about 15 hours over the 2 1/2-year period working with you. Feel free to ask your mentor questions and seek advice on IHTP methods and practices. The mentor is not a life coach or a music teacher, or a harp teacher. Their role is to remind you that your work is due and keep you on task.

I am interested in the harp therapy program, but feel that I will need a year to prepare for numerous reasons. Does your program start in the fall of each year?

The IHTP accepts students into the program twice a year – March 1 (“First Semester”) and September 1 (“Second Semester”). We can offer you a seat in our Prep Program to prepare you to apply to our program while you wait for those dates.

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