The University of Arizona

Harpist Provides Music Therapy to Diamond Children’s Patients

By Darci Slaten, Arizona Health Sciences Center | July 11, 2013
Before moving to Tucson, David Pavlovich developed harp therapy programs for Stanford, Lucile Packard and Salinas Valley hospitals in California. (Photo courtesy of Darci Slaten)
Before moving to Tucson, David Pavlovich developed harp therapy programs for Stanford, Lucile Packard and Salinas Valley hospitals in California. (Photo courtesy of Darci Slaten)

With the support of SHINE ON Tucson, professional harpist David Pavlovich plays for the pediatric patients at The University of Arizona Medical Center - Diamond Children’s on a weekly basis.

Children, their families and hospital staff all benefit from the talent of harpist David Pavlovich. (Photo courtesy of Darci Slaten)
Children, their families and hospital staff all benefit from the talent of harpist David Pavlovich. (Photo courtesy of Darci Slaten)
Harpist David Pavlovich said he believes that
Harpist David Pavlovich said he believes that "when music can bring relief and comfort to those in need, it reaches its maximum potential for good and its highest purpose." (Photo courtesy of David Pavlovich)

Thanks to the ongoing support of the nonprofit organization SHINE ON Tucson, patients at The University of Arizona Medical Center – Diamond Children's receive the healing power of music through the soothing sounds of harpist David Pavlovich.

For the last six years, Pavlovich has been visiting the hospital four to five times a week to provide comfort to both children and adults.

"David's music is such a gift to the children and families at Diamond Children's," said Janey Russell, SHINE ON Tucson founder.

"We've received many letters from families expressing gratitude for his music and the comfort it provided them," Russell said. "Music is so important to healing, and SHINE ON Tucson is honored to support David's music therapy program."

Pavlovich's custom-made harp, made with a European frame and a South American sound chamber, enables him to play traditional classical and Celtic music as well as rhythmic Latin American, jazz and pop tunes.

Whatever Pavlovich plays, children and adults are delighted and captivated when they hear his music in the hallways of the hospital.

"There are many benefits that can be achieved through music," Pavlovich said. "It can alleviate pain, elevate mood, counteract depression and promote movement for physical rehabilitation."

In addition, studies have shown that music therapy stabilizes heart rates, regulates blood pressure, improves respiratory functions and reduces recovery time from injury.

The UA is working to advance research on harp music's effects on health even further.

A study was launched in 2012 at The University of Arizona Medical Center to measure the effects of music on patients in the intensive care unit. The project involved renowned harpist Carrol McLaughlin, a professor in the UA School of Music for more than three decades, Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Anne Baldwin, a research professor of physiology.

Baldwin, who was responsible for measuring patients' physiological function, blood pressure and self-reported pain scores before and after the harp was played, began noticing blood pressure levels adjusting. (You can read more about the study in the UANews article, "Study Explores Effects of Harp Music on ICU Patients.")

As a professional harpist, Pavlovich has dedicated much of his life to serving others through music.

He believes that "when music can bring relief and comfort to those in need, it reaches its maximum potential for good and its highest purpose."

While playing at Diamond Children's, Pavlovich often incorporates a personal, interactive approach with children.

"I believe the harp touches something in children that is actually quite old," he said. "The way they focus on the music, the stillness and serenity that sometimes comes over them. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know it's there. I can just see it in their eyes as they watch me. It is ancient."

Contacts

Media Contact:

Darci Slaten

Arizona Health Sciences Center

520-626-7217

darci@peds.arizona.edu