Thankful, a Musical Masterpiece

Thankful, a Musical Masterpiece

The mission of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children is to improve the health and quality of life for children with special needs and their families. Our goal is to give them more than they ever dreamed possible.

In following our mission, we also recognize that our patients are children and we want them to be children. We want them to laugh and sing. We do this with medically-approved therapeutic recreation and healing arts so that our children and young adults can develop interpersonal relationships, socialize effectively, and become confident and able to participate in group activities. We tailor these programs around each child’s capabilities, needs, and interests.

Art and music therapy help our children cope with their symptoms, stress, and daily life experiences. It also helps them express themselves and deal with any anger or depression they may be feeling.  Music therapy, in particular, nourishes their learning processes which include attention span, critical thinking, emotional maturity, motor capacity, and much more.

Daniela is one of our patients with Guillain-Barre (gee-YAH-buh-RAY) Syndrome, which is an auto-immune disorder that attacks the nerves in the body. It spreads quickly and in its severest form is considered a medical emergency. Patients can recover from it but some may experience lingering effects from it such as weakness, numbness, or fatigue. Daniela has to re-learn how to walk, eat, swallow, speak clearly, write, and much more.

Christine Pedersen, St. Mary’s Music Therapist, started working with Daniela and two other patients in November, to create a song that revolved around Thanksgiving and all things they are thankful for.

The idea was presented to Daniela and after two sessions of brainstorming, they were able to create the groundwork for the song. After agreeing on the combination of harmony and melody, Christine presented them chord patterns for their approval. Once that was out of the way, they had to write lyrics and a melody. Afterward, it all fell into place and Daniela and Christine were able to complete the song and its framework.

While writing the lyrics and listening to the song, they discussed what colors came to mind during this process. The theme of dark into light, similar to a storm ending in sunshine serves as a metaphor for their feelings and what they are experiencing. That’s when our Art Therapist, Daria Swinton, and John Crisciullo, Senior TA, worked with Daniela and two other patients to create ideas for the cover art for their song.

The title of their song is “Thankful”. Christine is so incredibly proud to work with these young adults who collectively shared the emotions and feelings in creating this musical masterpiece. Christine said she got to see a creative side of them that required thought, dedication, motivation, and the musical skills that they all possess.


“When working on the song, all my fears, stress, anxieties kind of left. I had no reason to feel those things during the song because it’s all about surviving and expressing. When we were writing the song, because we thought so much of survival and expressing our feelings, we realized how long we’ve come and how proud we are of ourselves and how thankful we are for the people who have helped us.” – Daniela