From the Harp

Name: Alice McGarvie

Member since: 2017

Tell us about your business:
I am a registered occupational therapist and a harp therapist. I wanted to be more creative in my occupational therapy work so I created ‘From the Harp’ so I could deliver interactive therapeutic activity using small lightweight therapy harps as the therapeutic medium. As part of my training to become a therapeutic harp practitioner I had to do a placement in a nursing home. This went really well, and I was able to reach residents that were unable to get out of bed to access activity in the lounge. My harps can be played in bed, in wheelchairs and on the floor making them easily accessible. A typical session at a nursing home may involve me playing in the lounge and engaging residents in playing harps or percussion or engaging in whatever way they want to. This could be singing, dancing, swaying, tapping or observing. I will then go and visit individuals in their rooms and play for them encourage them to play the harp, sing along, and reminisce and chat about their musical experiences. I am now expanding my service for mental health groups, learning disability homes, cancer support groups and older peoples groups. There is a lot of evidence outlining the benefits of community music making and I would like to take it to people that may have difficulty accessing live interactive music. I am also doing a sound therapy course and soon will be offering rhythm circles with drums and percussion, soundscapes expressing feelings, art or poetry through music and Sound baths. I believe relaxation is the forgotten activity, and we need to invest in this. Sound baths are relaxing and allow us to escape from our technology briefly.

The beginning - your ‘eureka’ moment:
Finding out about the International Harp Therapy Programme and its aim to have a therapeutic harpist in every hospital and hospice by 2020.

The best and the worst of times:
The best time was winning the Santander University of Brighton Enterprise award for the most entrepreneurial service 2016, and the prize of finances and business mentoring. The worst time was getting diagnosed with breast cancer a week before the award ceremony and living with the uncertainty and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis when I was in business start up phase. Another best time was recently when my second blog post ‘What is occupational therapy?’ went viral, it has been viewed over 37,000 times and shared on Facebook over 10,000 times, and attracted media interest locally and nationally. You can read it here:

What gets you out of bed in the morning - what motivates you?:
Relieving isolation and boredom in nursing homes, and being able to be creative every day.

Luck or skill - what gets your further?:
A combination of both and a happy go lucky attitude.

Define ‘entrepreneur’:
Somebody who knows there is another way, and is brave enough to make it and travel on it.

Moving on up - your ambitions and the next big thing:
I would like to get more harps so I can leave them with people between sessions to relieve boredom and isolation when I am not around. My ambition is to be able to life spirits and make days better by enabling people to have more access to harps.

Your top tips:
Go for it and network. Talk to others and get advice about all the things every new start up has to do. There is a lot to do, but you don’t have to be on your own if you utilise business support groups around you.

What others say about you and your business:
It's unique

The response from the residents has been amazing, we want Alice to keep providing this unique service to our residents, we all really enjoy Alice’s visits with her harps.

From the Harp