of My Mission
Play the Harp
Peggy Jaegly, The Heavenly Harpist
By Sandra Zunino
Instrument of the angels, the harp is associated with a sense of peace and spiritual enlightenment. Local musician, Peggy Jaegly brings live harp music to hospitals, hospice, nursing homes and private residences to promote physical and emotional healing.
Peggy, a Certified Music Practitioner, Hospital Certified Master Bedside Harpist, and Certified Healing Musician, was inspired to pursue music therapy training when she learned about the Chalice of Repose Project, an organization whose mission is to care for physical and spiritual needs with prescriptive music. Music therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of patients with illness, disabilities or chronic pain.
Research has documented that music affects the body by slowing down and equalizing brain waves, respiration, heartbeat, and blood pressure. It can also reduce muscle tension and improve coordination. Music can increase endorphin levels, boost immune functions, stimulate digestion, regulate stress-related hormones and affect body temperature. Psychologically, it can mask pain and strengthen memory and learning.
What sounds like new technology can be traced to the ancient Greeks, who used modal music for healing. A mode is an ordered series of musical intervals or scales. The vibrations associated with each mode can elicit relaxation when played in an arranged order creating a musical massage. Music works whether the patient is alert, asleep or even unconscious. Peggy says many times she has played for comatose patients and somehow the patients turn their bodies toward the music.
Peggy recalls one of her first patients, an elderly woman in a very agitated state: The patient started to hum to the harp music along with her daughter. “She had not been able to communicate for 20 years. Somehow the music reached her when nothing else would.” Sometimes Alzheimer’s patients hear a song from childhood and start singing.
Playing classical harp for 10 years, Peggy’s interest in music started in childhood when she studied piano, flute and piccolo. As an adult, Peggy worked in the banking industry, hospital administration, and as a professional writer, specializing in short story mysteries. In fact, one of her stories won an award from the Sisters In Crime writers’ organization, San Joaquin chapter.
As a devoted mother, she raised three children. During those years; however, music took a backseat. When it came time for her children to leave the nest, she channeled her energies back into music. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it,” she explains. She was singing in a choir and fell in love with the harp. “It was like a puzzle that had discovered a missing piece.”
Founder of The Elegant Harp / The Healing Harp, Peggy plays at weddings and special occasions on weekends. During weekdays, she plays for patients, including the Neo Natal Unit in Baltimore’s St Agnes, and in cancer centers, where she says she has seen the most amazing reactions. “It helps people relax and gives them peace,” she says. “It is the most rewarding work.”
Weighing anywhere from eight to 65 pounds, because of its shape, the harp is awkward to manipulate and transport. Peggy has eight harps and uses a van to transport them.
Peggy is now marketing meditative harp music CDs. Healing harp CDs will soon be available as well. She says she would also like to do a series of lullabies from around the word. Additionally, she is working to match up harpists with hospitals and training, and move onto the national level. “I love everything I do. I am very busy, but I love it.”