Elisabeth Westhead


Meet Liz Westhead

I am a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner, having qualified in the International Harp Therapy Program run by Christina Tourin based in San Diego.
As well as harp therapy I am also available to play the harp at weddings and funerals. I teach violin and piano as well as working as a general musician playing in Scarborough's Symphony Orchestra and St Hilda's Festival Orchestra in Whitby. I occasionally perform in Scarborough's Pied Piper Band and Botton Ceilidh Band. I am also a member of the Danesgarth String Quartet. The string quartet plays mainly within a 30 mile radius of Whitby and is also available to play for weddings. Charges for both the Harp and String Quartet are very reaonable.


I work with three harps, currently all lever harps as opposed to pedal harps. Lever harps are simpler than pedal harps making them much easier to transport and maintain.
The largest harp is a Sequoia Creek Concert Harp which stands 58" high in Cherry wood. Made by Jeff Lewis of Michigan, it has a rich mellow tone and will astound you with its powerful voice. This harp is suitable for gatherings of 100 or more, especially if amplified.
I also own a 44" Guiness Type Celtic harp in dark green with gold beading made by Aoyama of Japan.
My third harp is now an historic replica of a Gothic Harp with 25 strings in cherry wood made by Ben Bechtel of Columbus, Ohio. This harp is not pictured.


I enjoy playing simple evocative music, often reminiscent of the outdoors - in particular I like playing O'Carolan's music like Sidh Beag agus Sidh Mor, as well as tunes like Pentland Hills, Mull of Kintyre, David of the White Rock and Seal Lullaby - but my repertoire covers a wide range of types of music ranging from Celtic to Baroque, including extracts from films and musicals and with hints of jazz.
I first became interested in the harp when playing (viola) in a pit orchestra in Whitby for a production of South Pacific. The harp was right behind me. Within less than a year I had bought my own Guinness harp and persuaded the harpist behind me, Anita Aslin, to teach me. I then went into harp therapy because I had missed an opportunity earlier in life to study Music Therapy. I have a great conviction that music should be used. Used for dancing or ceremony or mood-setting, but NOT just played to a passive seated audience in a concert hall.
A harp can add style to a wedding, or it can be used in the background to encourage the flow of conversation so the guests will linger over their drinks, tables, food. As well as standard wedding marches and baroque repertoire I am also able to offer tunes like Endearment where the bass comes up to meet descending sixths in treble, ringing out like church bells.
I can also offer a range of tender, healing music by Christina Tourin, founder of the IHTP, and others like Anam Cara, Gentle Spirit and Reflections as well as a whole range of older healing music which can be traced back to Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and the French troubadors and the time of Henri de Navarre and Queen Eleanor.

Additional Thoughts

I became interested in complimentary medicine because of personal problems which my allopathic GP could not resolve. After that experience, I learnt the basic principles of homeopathy. Then I deepened my interest in nutrition by reading widely about food as medicine. Several times in my life I have been close to cancer patients, and have learnt quite a lot from observation about cancer. As part of my IHTP training my hands were channelled with Reiki by a Bhuddist nun, Judith Hitt, who is a regular lecturer on the IHTP program. This Reiki energy was given to us in our hands to help with the healing work. For me it was a very deep and meaningful experience, even though I had had nothing to do with Reiki before. I was delighted to find that Judith’s ReikiMaster, Gordon Bell, actually offered Reiki courses in Newcastle UK and I immediately sought him out, studying Reiki at first and second degrees and I intend to study further.

Harps in Heather © 2010 E M Westhead.

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