Sunday, September 14, 2014

Healing means making things right

Leigh Chasse was 17, and her sister Sara was 15 in the fall of 2000, when they first heard about Michael Stultz. He was 17, and lay in a coma at Bloomington Hospital after a traffic accident.

Leigh and Sara had studied harp for two years under a professor at Indiana University School of Music. They wanted to help Stulz by playing in his hospital room. The boy's mother, Rita Fox, quickly agreed.

Leigh Chasse, left, and her sister, Sara, right, prepared for a practice with their teacher, Professor Elzbieta Szmyt, at the Indiana University School of Music. The sisters, while still in high school, studied many hours on a daily basis with Szmyt. Their family chose Bloomington for its access to the music school and its famed harp department.
The hospital let the sisters store their 75 pound, 47-string concert grand harp in Stultz's hospital room. Each evening for two weeks, the girls moved the instrument to his bedside and took turns playing for him from 8 until 10 p.m.
The first time Fox heard them, she started crying, because "it sounded like heavenly music."

The girls were not intimidated playing for a patient in a coma. "When I played, I kind of looked at him," said Leigh, "because I had the music memorized."
At first, the girls were told to play very softly, and the door to Stultz's hospital room was shut. But when other patients overheard the soothing strains, they asked that all doors be opened. "They said our music helped them too," Sara explained.
Leigh had noticed that playing the harp made her feel better, and hoped it would have the same effect on Stultz. "We thought maybe he could still hear, and the music might help him relax."
Leigh and Sara hoped to play their harps together in Carnegie Hall someday, but as far as Rita Fox and her family were concerned, they were already stars. 
"They are angels," she said. "They have hearts (and harps) of gold. Healing doesn't always mean getting well. It also means making things right. I think harp music heals the spirit."

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