Jazzing up the harp with renowned musician Motoshi Kosako | TheUnion.com

Jazzing up the harp with renowned musician Motoshi Kosako

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

Jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako leads a harp therapy workshop Sunday for students of the harp therapy class at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital cancer center support group.

Only a few months into the harp therapy class at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital cancer center support group, Shirley Bartmess of Grass Valley got to learn from a master.

"I used to play the piano, but this is a lot more fun," said Bartmess, one of 30 harpists and 10 guests at Sunday's special workshop featuring renowned jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako. "I love playing the harp."

Kosako, 43, of Yuba County, has played Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Summer Thymes restaurant in Grass Valley for the last three years.

Yesterday, however, was the first time he was invited to the harp therapy class, facilitated by music therapist and harpist Lisa Stine for the last 18 years.

“This is amazing. I have watched lives change when you put music into it.”
Lisa Stine
music therapist and harpist

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"This is a special event for him to teach us how to jazz up our harps," Stine said Sunday. "It's the first time he's met any of my students ­— except that we've all heard him and decided he should be with us."

A native of Japan, Kosako came to the U.S. in 1997 and works with the Stockton Symphony. He was featured as the cover story in the July-August issue of Harp Column, a magazine for harpists.

He said Sunday's class was not to teach the basics of playing the harp. Rather, it was to show students how to have fun and improvise.

"It's great to share the idea of enjoyment and how to create music," he said. "That part is not taught in music school — but it's the most important part to me."

The harp class, which comprises the content of the hospital's cancer center support group, is open to anyone who has been treated for cancer or related surgery.

Several of Stine's students have graduated from the class and then gone on to be volunteer harp entertainers at the hospital.

Sharon Tremaine has been volunteering at the hospital once a week for seven years. Rasal Terhune-Young and his wife Marilyn of Alta Sierra are both class graduates, having started in 2004. Marilyn Terhune-Young gives volunteer concerts at the hospital twice per week, her husband said.

"This is amazing," said Stine, looking around the heavily-harp-populated room on Sunday. "I have watched lives change when you put music into it."

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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