Carol Sharp doesn't claim that harp music -- even at its most lovely -- can actually heal. But she believes that music can "help people be in a better frame of mind to help in their own healing. It doesn't cure you. But it can help you."
Sharp, a music therapy practitioner, and her husband, David Sharp, who perform together as Idlewild, will play Celtic music during the spring equinox celebration at the Inner Light Center, 470 E. 3900 South, Suite 106, on Sunday at 10 a.m.She believes in music, in part, because it helped her heal her own life, she said. Nearly a decade ago, she had played a lot of piano but had never dabbled with harps. She was introduced to Celtic music at a fair where she was fascinated by the sounds and sight of a woman playing a hammer dulcimer.
"I was a single parent with three kids, working. I was trying to keep my life together. And at this medieval fair, the woman was playing Celtic music that really struck a chord in me. So I bought a hammer dulcimer and learned to play.
While she's not Celtic, she enjoys it. "Pretty much the Celtic view of God is that he is the ultimate creator. The divine spark, the creativity we find in ourselves. And the best way to worship is to use the creativity he's given you, the music and poetry. It's true for Christian and non-Christian Celtic. It's a way to worship and show appreciation."
Carol and David met through music. Her first harp was his wedding present to her, two years after they met.
She plays a folk harp, notable because it sits on her lap, unlike a classical or concert harp. On a concert harp, the musician can sharp or flat notes using a pedal that the folk, or Celtic, harps don't have, although you can sharp some notes with a little flip lever.
And while a classical harpist develops strong hands plucking strings, the Celtic harp requires just fingernail touch, playing as a classical guitarist would.
The harp she uses is as magic as the music she's discovered in it, she said. David Sharp had a craftsman carve it for her out of maple. Then he carved the bird on it.
You don't have to be ill to need healing, she said. "I think music is just a therapeutic kind of thing even if you don't need a particular kind of healing at the time. It enhances your life in general and helps you -- whatever kind of music you particularly like. For me, Celtic music is what appeals. It makes me feel good. It could be different from other people."
Don Campbell wrote a book called "The Mozart Effect." It's about the ability of music to soothe and heal. Recently, Sharp joined others who are practitioners of harp therapy with the International Harp Therapy Program. They talked about music, experienced it, played it. And at the end Campbell directed the 60-harp ensemble as it played Mozart.
As she plays the Celtic harp Sunday, her husband will play his mountain dulcimer, his recorder and flute. And they'll try to capture the Celtic view of life, with its alternating introspection and joy.