Is Harmonica Playing an Effective Adjunct Therapy to Pulmonary Rehabilitation?


  • Jeffrey L. Alexander PhD,

  • Carolyn L. Wagner RN BSN



This randomized controlled trial examined the effect harmonica playing has on various clinical, psychosocial, and functional outcomes among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients in pulmonary rehabilitation (PR).


Twenty-eight participants (Age 69.9 ± 1.8; FEV1 Predicted 41.9 ± 2.0%) were recruited from an outpatient PR program. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups, traditional PR (C; n = 16) or traditional PR plus harmonica playing (HT; n = 9). The HT group was provided a harmonica and one-on-one instruction by PR staff. Patients were given practice exercises to perform for at least 5 minutes, but not exceeding 20 minutes twice/day, 5 days/week.


No significant differences were found between groups. The combined sample improved significantly in their perception of shortness of breath, quality of life, and distance walked in 6 minutes.


Harmonica playing does not significantly affect the clinical, psychosocial, or functional status of COPD patients enrolled in PR.