Mary Kay Bonner was introduced to the healing power of live harp music while attending a conference on music and medicine. It was 1988 and the researchers were presenting the findings about the human cells’ positive response to the music of the harp. That was all she needed to hear. She purchased her Celtic harp and began her career as a Music Therapist.
Bonner, who was reared in Plymouth, now lives in the Indianapolis area. She was in Plymouth last week and brought her harp with her. She stopped by Miller’s Assisted Living and played her soothing music for the residents. Many of the residents remembered her as Mary Kay Cullison. Her parents were well known in Plymouth as well as her Uncle Oscar. Throughout the program Bonner spoke fondly of her Uncle Oscar and his influence on her life. She also educated her audience about her Celtic harp and the importance of music in their lives.
Bonner explained that her career focus has been to encourage the health of special populations through music. Her undergraduate degrees are in music education and music therapy. She has a Masters in music education and special education. She has her Music Therapy Board Certification. The American Music Therapy Association requires this Board Certification to work as a music therapist. Bonner is currently the Vice President of the Association of Indiana Music Therapy.
As for her Celtic harp, is also known as a folk harp. It differs from the large pedal harps you would see played with a symphony orchestra. Bonner’s harp stands 5 feet tall, has 31 strings (about 4 octaves) and was handmade of cherry and maple wood. The sound produced can be gentle in an intimate setting or can be enjoyed for a church wedding, restaurant or other more open spacing.
Bonner played many different genre’s of music throughout her program. She also had the audience singing along on folk songs from their childhood. Upon conclusion of her concert, Bonner invited the audience to come up and “pet” the harp!
Photo Caption: Miller’s Volunteer and PHS Orchestra and Band member, Autumn Wilson “pets” the Cletic Harp as Music Therapist Mary Kay Bonner discusses colleges that offer Music Therapy as a major.