SRQ Magazine | October 2015
Tight airways giving you the blues? A special harmonica invented in Sarasota could both exercise lungs and let even the musically-challenged produce some beautiful sounds. After years working in medical research, Dr. Dana Keller developed this health-oriented musical instrument after his brother-in-law came down with emphysema. Knowing that playing harmonica had health benefits, the two both learned to play the instrument, and Keller wondered what a harmonica designed specifically for pulmonary improvement might sound like. Then with a wail of inspiration and airflow, the Pulmonica Harmonica. was born. “I wanted to make it for long, slow, deep, complete, meditative belly-playing,” Keller says. “The idea of it being a harmonica, per se, was less relevant. More relevant was that while you were breathing, the sound was soothing.”
Keller and wife Mary Lou patented the concept and founded the company and designed the Pulmonica with both musicians and non-musicians in mind. Holes were places so that no matter how many notes are played in a single blow, chromatic chords sound. The device earned attention in the medical community, and a clinical trial was even hosted at the Senior Friendship Center in Sarasota in 2013. To date, about 1,000 of the devices have been sold and researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine and at the University of West Florida have shown interest. The Kellers are already thinking of expanding their harmonica empire, designing an OMonica that always produces the same frequency pitch of a meditative “om.” So whether it’s health for the lungs or the soul, the Kellers will get you on the right note.