BREMERTON — It’s no mistake that Hank Payne and Claire Favro play music that touches your heart.
That’s what they were trained to do.
The couple met in 2008 when they both enrolled in the Music for Healing and Transition Program in Federal Way. In the seminars, they learned how to therapeutically use their musical talents to soothe patients.
Payne describes MHTP as one-on-one time between a patient and a musician. The musician’s goal isn’t to entertain the patient, “but rather help level off their emotional state,” he said.
“A patient may be in ICU or hospice and barely conscious,” Favro added. “You aren’t there to perform, you are there to give a gift.”
Each of them has been singing and playing guitar for what Favro called “a lifetime.” She picked up a guitar when she was 12, and taught herself how to play.
Payne bought his first guitar when he was stationed with an Army security division in Turkey, and spent his early 20s developing his repertoire.
Favro is in the process of completing her internship with MHTP. After 40 hours, she will be certified and able to work on a volunteer basis, or look for paid employment.
Favro explained how the process works. As a music practitioner, Favro enters the patient’s room and evaluates the situation by reading the patient’s monitors and adjusts her playing accordingly.
For example, if the patient’s heartbeat is racing, she begins playing music at a similar rate. Gradually, over 10 to 15 minutes, she slows down her playing. Often by the end of the music session, the patient’s heart rate is in a more manageable range.
“The research is phenomenal on the power of music,” Favro said. A patient who is comfortable and relaxed helps to speed up healing, she said.
Outside the medical community, Favro and Payne are known as “Hank and Claire,” the guitar-strumming, folk-singing duo. They recently released their first album, “Heart of the Matter” which includes some original songs as well as covers.
Favro and Payne each had a background performing in coffeehouses and at professional gigs such as receptions. But neither of them had met the perfect singing partner … yet.
When they met and discovered their shared approach to music, they knew they were on to something.
Although they live 110 miles apart, Favro in Bremerton and Payne in Ocean Shores, the pair finds time to practice.
“I’ve never played with someone as capable as Claire,” Payne said.
Favro described their partnership as “amazing and bar none.”
Favro said MHTP taught the teaching the duo how to create “a very conscious creation of sacred space.” That lesson has flowed into their performing.
“We want to draw the audience in,” Favro said. “It isn’t going to be a hootenanny where everybody is singing every song. Our performance is about picking songs that are stories, so the lyrics are really important.”
Favro said their concerts aren’t about the band or the beat, but rather what is being expressed in the story.
“We create a space for audience members to get in touch with feelings … maybe incredible joy or nostalgia or melancholy,” she said. “We are always looking for songs that touch your heart or your funny bone.”
Payne and Favro enjoy sharing music that mainstream audiences never hear.
“Some people say folk music went out years ago,” Favro said. “Baloney! It’s so wonderful for the soul.”
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On March 19, Hank and Claire will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4418 Perry Ave., Bremerton. Tickets are $10 for adults; ages 12-18 get in for free.
To hear a sample of their music, visit www.hanknclaire.com