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harper music therapy ptsd

Coralville, IA – November 6, 2017 – KALA radio held a Fourth of July broadcast about Charles Harper, a Vietnam veteran who was invited to their station to transfer his old recordings into a digital format. As a young man, Harper was a proficient musician and received an opportunity to attend Julliard School of Music before he went to war. Upon his return, Harper struggled with rejection, racism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. He turned to music to help pull himself through. The recent KALA special was titled, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper and aired July 4th, 2017.

In preparation for the special, KALA radio asked West Music’s Music Therapy team to contribute insights about the services and benefits music therapy can provide. Kelly Carlson, West Music’s Director of Music Therapy, states, “The properties of music: melody, rhythm, dynamics, and lyrics all come together to help individuals dealing with PTSD relax, improve their self-esteem, provide moments of happiness and allow the individual to express themselves without using words. Often in music therapy, we play instruments so that individuals can express themselves without needing to put words to their feelings.”

harper with gift piano

After the special aired, Harper sat down at a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano in the KALA Studio and his face lit up. He hadn’t played a note since 1992, but the music came right back. After witnessing Harper lost in the music, Johnna Kerres at KALA radio reached out to see if West Music would be willing to gift Harper a keyboard so he could start playing music for himself again. With their focus on playing music for life, West Music jumped at the chance to surprise Harper with his very own Clavinova that came from their Quad Cities store. Upon receiving this gift, he was overcome with happiness and began playing some of his original melodies.

Harper will perform on the piano at a special Veteran’s Day event at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA on November 9th at 6:00 p.m. and the special, Healing Harmonies: The Story of Charles Harper will air again on Friday, November 10th at 8 p.m. on 88.5 FM.


About West Music

West Music is a third-generation, locally-owned, and family-operated business. West Music has been the area’s leading partner specializing in pianos, guitars, drums and percussion, band and orchestra, and print music, as well as offering music education, music instruction, instrument repair, and music therapy services. With 7 retail locations in Iowa and Illinois as well as award-winning ecommerce websites dedicated to servicing music education and percussion communities, West Music strives to encourage people of all ages and abilities to play now and play for life.