Harmonica for Health and Fun

Harmonica advocates play the harmonica to help their lungs feel stronger and have fun.  For people with pulmonary disease, taking a breath can be a laborious task.  By exercising the muscles that breathe for us,  breathing will be better with less effort!  Ask the Harmonicats at the University of Colorado Harmonica Support Group.

The Harmonicats!
Ten years ago the group was inspired by a patient waiting for a lung transplant who suggested an adjunct to the standard Pulmonary Rehab Therapy,  but continue to make it beneficial and fun.  The Harmonicats are graduates of the Pulmonary Rehab Program along with several Caregivers.  The group is open to all people with pulmonary disease such as COPD, Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis and Lung Transplants. They are all willing participants to playing the harmonica.  Reading music is not a prerequisite!  ItÕs all about the numbers on the harmonica!  After a few lessons everyone catches on to the method and hence playing music has released endorphins that makes the group feel better about themselves and about others.

The harp music and fun is shared with other Hospitals, Retirement Homes or whenever or whoever requests The Harmonicats for a concert.

Science of Playing the Harmonica
The harmonica requires diaphragmatic breathing, pursed-lip breathing and the use of both phases of ventilation (inspiration and expiration) to play a tune.  These are maneuvers that are encouraged for pulmonary conditions.

Traditionally, deep breathing, coughing and ambulation have been used to expand and exercise the lungs.  The challenge when providing traditional therapy is the lack of the fun factor.  The harmonica can help with this challenge.  It provides funÑplaying music  which is uplifting and a therapyÑand encourages deep breathing while controlling the diaphragm.  The breathing required to play the harmonica can amplify and augment flexibility, capacity, and elasticity of the thin muscles of the diaphragm, which then can fuel the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the alveoli.  It produces a cough and with the deep breathing while playing  will help to mobilize secretions to clear the bronchial airways and increase lung capacity.

Why the Harmonica?
The harmonica instrument is good because it is small and inexpensive and it goes everywhere and easy to play and one of the only instruments that makes sound through inhaling and exhaling.  It is especially pleasing to most dogs!

Playing the harmonica is a toe tapping therapy with help to breathing better and it is Fun: The harmonica brings music and health into a group. It nourishes the soul and improves lung health.  It is oxygen for the soul!

Harmonica Practice and The Harmonicats Support Group is humming away every Tuesday from 11:00-12:30.  Contact:  Alex Worl at University of Colorado Hospital.  720-848-7534


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