Bringing Therapeutic Harp to Those in Need

History And Overview

In the fall of 2013, certified therapeutic harpist, Jayne Demakos asked a handful of friends if they would help her fund raise a small salary so as to be able to commit to playing therapeutic harp weekly in a medicaid supported, skilled nursing facility in Central New York. Without skipping a beat, every friend said “Yes”! A steering committee was formed and the next thing she knew, CompassionHarp was born.

In partnership with Social Ventures, Inc. CompassionHarp was set to receive the benefits of its not-for-profit status. A successful fundraiser and educational social was launched in the spring of 2014 and weekly visits to Cayuga Ridge Skilled Nursing Facility ensued in earnest. In addition, two group homes were served and also a handful of referred individuals needing care.

In 2017, CompassionHarp formed a partnership with Ithaca College focusing on a newly formed student club, Healing Through Musical Companionship. Through a generous grant from the Park Foundation, a program was established through to bring students from this club into Cayuga Ridge to be with residents one on one as ‘musical companions.’ This program continued through 2019 and connected several isolated residents with college companions.

A second certified therapeutic harpist came on board in 2018. Pamela Goddard completed her training that July and earned her certification through the International Harp Therapy Program. She serves patients at Cayuga Medical Center and visits long term residents at several skilled nursing facilities. Pamela says, “My inspiration and aspiration to do this work grew out of musical care that I’ve shared with Jayne, over years as a volunteer with Hospicare. Music has always been a part of my life. And, a desire to help ease suffering and serve the community is a strong motivation for me.”

March 2020 brought several changes to CompassionHarp, as we learned how to offer Therapeutic Harp in the time of COVID. Across the country, therapeutic musicians were creative in learning new ways to connect. At the same time, it was vitally important to bring music and connection to those who are isolated in long term care.

That spring, Jayne Demakos took the opportunity to work as a full time music thanantologist (playing palliative music for the dying) for a hospital complex in Washington state. Pamela Goddard continued as CompassionHarp’s sole provider just as health care settings closed down due to the pandemic. For over a year, therapeutic music was made available—remotely via zoom—to skilled nursing facilities.

During 2021, CompassionHarp gradually was able to return to in-person service, thanks to vaccinations, frequent testing, and other COVID protections. Pamela learned to play in a PPE gown and to sing while being masked.

CompassionHarp currently brings therapeutic harp and voice to Cayuga Nursing and Rehab, Beechtree Center, and Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY. We hope to expand our service, as pandemic restrictions shift and (hopefully!) begin to lift.

March, 2022

Who We Are


Pamela Goddard, CTHP 2018, Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner, provides therapeutic harp and voice in health care facilities in Central New York. She has worked as an historian, musician, educator, writer, and municipal town clerk.

Pamela has expanded her studies into Contemplative Care, completing the Foundations of Contemplative Care course through the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. Pamela has also been a performing musician with two CDs to her credit: As Time Draws Near (American traditional songs) and Quietness (meditative and spiritual music). She has performed at venues and music festivals across New York and New England. In each of these roles, Pamela strives to build connection and understanding. Her motto is, When words fail, music speaks.

Board of Directors

Camille Tischler, Secretary/Treasurer, work life included co-founding a socialist-feminist bookstore and art gallery, Finance and Personnel Director of Planned Parenthood, and being a self-employed program evaluator, and public and private mediator.

She has also enjoyed volunteering on the Ithaca City School Board,at the Advocacy Center, and Loaves and Fishes. Camille believes that Compassion Harp embodies love, harmony and beauty, bringing all three to those at the threshold of the tangible and intangible worlds.

Kate Potteiger served as Planned Parenthood CEO during the 1980’s and as a manager in Cornell’s Development office for 18 years.

She was recruited to serve on the Compassion Harp advisory board by her friend Camille.

Since then, Kate has been inspired by Jayne’s work and the commitment of Compassion Harp to bring therapeutic harp and “music as medicine” to underserved populations.

Rev. Tim Dean is the Director of Spiritual Care at Cayuga Medical Center where he has worked as chaplain since 2007, and currently chairs the Ethics Committee.

He is a third generation minister who was raised in Massachusetts, with family roots in Tennessee. A graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, and Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Tim describes himself as a “Baptist with Buddhist leanings.” Tim’s personal interests include serving as an instructor for Cornell Outdoor Education (hiking, paddling, XC skiing), and on his own time he’s learning to sail through the unpredictable winds of Cayuga Lake.

Cynthia Lunine brings an eclectic mix of experience to the community of Ithaca: Abilene Christian University, BA in Art; MLa (Landscape Architecture) from the University of Arizona; an aerospace career ranging from sheetmetal assembly to product assurance engineering; volunteer work as ski patroller, EMT and firefighter, land use activist.

She now volunteers with Hospicare, is a member of the Board of Trustees for St. Paul’s UMC, practices meditation, engages in visual design activities, study of piano and voice, and local amateur performing. Support of local organizations that emphasize music and healing is a priority.