Creative Wellbeing Workshops

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The Magic of Music-Karinya and Florence-Playlists for Hope

Karinya, 15 yr-old with Cancer, Being Serenaded by a Florence and the Machine
We just ran across this moving video of Karinya Chen, a 15 year-old girl who was dying of bone cancer, being personally serenaded by her favorite band Florence and the Machine.  Sadly, this was almost 10 years ago.  Karinya died shortly after the video was made, but that doesn’t lessen how inspiring it is to watch her joy spark while Florence lovingly belts out “Dog Days Are Over”.

Take It One Day at a Time
Karinya said shortly before she died, ”Honestly, I think the biggest thing is to not worry and fear.  I tear up a little bit when I say that because it’s a difficult thing just to get past every single day, but you just have to remember that if you take it one day at a time and don’t take things for granted and tell yourself that you are loved and you are blessed it makes it a lot easier to fight.

Karina Singing Her Heart Out

Passion and Intensity
Watching Karinya passionately singing along with Florence to Dog Days, we can see how it lets her channel a deep intensity.  From facing death so young? From the ecstasy of being personally entertained bedside by her favorite singer?  Or maybe, like any other teenager, just that burning angst we are cursed with in the throes of adolescence. 

You Can’t Carry It With You
As music is wont to do, the lyrics seem to capture those depths and make it all the more poignant watching Karinya belt them out.

Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive
The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses?
‘Cause here they come

Music Reigns Supreme
Despite our love of visual art, there is something about music that trumps everything.  In a flash, we’re flying to the heavens, howling at the moon, cruising down memory lane, etc.  Music just moves us!  Even we, art therapists as we are, bow to the majesty of music.

Music to Heal Wounded Hearts
When we ran art therapy groups in psychiatric units, places full of crisis, chaos and despair, playing music was the magic trick to bringing some light, ease, and positive energy, not just for the patients but for the staff.   Eventually, we compiled a mix titled “Everything Matters” that became a staple on the unit, instantly putting patients and staff into a calmer and more “patient” mood.  (Click here to see the soundtrack).

Tracks for Celebrating Your Life and Death
We have a colleague who uses extended soundtracks as part of her work with clients–one as a celebration of their life and one for their death.  She suggests 5 hours each, why not?!  What would be on your list?

Florence Is In Recovery
As an aside, Florence, of Florence and the Machine mentioned above, identifies as a recovering alcoholic who has struggled with anxiety and depression.  She has another amazing video in which Actor Bill Nighy personifies her anxiety.

Everything Matters Playlist

  • Everybody Got Their Something/Nikka Costa
  • Three Little Birds/Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • Be Thankful for What You’ve Got/William De Vaughn
  • Groovy People/Lou Rawls
  • Best of Both Worlds/Robert Palmer
  • Bottom to the Top/Joan Armatrading
  • Every 1’s A Winner/Hot Chocolate
  • Thank You/Led Zeppelin
  • This Is Your Life/Commodores
  • I’ll Take You There/Staple Singers
  • Don’t Move the Mountain/Gospel Hummingbirds
  • Everything’s Coming Our Way/Santana
  • All About Love/Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Happy People/Temptations
  • Positive Vibration/Bob Marley & The Wailer
  • I See Hope In The Morning Light/Midge Ure


Sara Briggs, artcile by