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Admittedly, well-being is an evolving thing in my day-to-day life. Self-care wasn't an innate skill I had and sometimes I found it more difficult to ascertain what exactly I needed. I’d light my candles, take a bath, meditate and do yoga but none of those things stuck.

So, what care did I need, and what do I do to help myself? I could never find a good answer simply because I was approaching the question from the wrong direction. The better question was - what am I feeling, and how do I address and process these feelings? I finally found a basic way to approach my own well-being - figure out what I need to feel, understand and accept. Anything can constitute self-care, and set the groundwork to feeling better, to feeling uplifted - whether it’s scrolling for hours on my phone, going on a date, having a nap, or having a drink with friends.

Now, the next step - how do I know what I want to feel? Confession: I am hopeless at listening to music. “But Tiff, you’re a musician!” you cry in disbelief. I know. This means I’m great at listening but not good at having things in the background, so listening to people talk is my thing. However, if I really am struggling to figure out my mood, my gut choice of music tends to inform me pretty quickly of what I need. So here are a few albums that I’ve been returning to lately when I’m in need of a pick-me-up, whatever form that ends up taking. Quite an eclectic mix - but hey, so am I.

Tiffany Cheng's Music to Uplift

Good Times

Let’s start with the good times - and what more than something to dance to! I hope everyone has a lot of these to enjoy. The first few songs on my playlist are my upbeat good fun tunes that really lift my spirit. Blue skies with funky ducks where everything’s going to be alright, why don’t we do this one more time. Hypa Hypa by Electric Callboy makes me laugh every time. The switch from pop to metal just always gets me into giggles. The music video is even better.

The Classics

Classical music obviously has a very special place in my heart, so I wanted to include some of my favourite classical pieces on this playlist. Similar to the rest of the music I have included here, the songs I have chosen are quite eclectic. From the plucky fun of Bartok’s Violin Sonatas to the classic stylings of Bach & Vivaldi, these orchestral works constantly hit home and I’m always buoyed when listening to them. I have also been taken with Harmonielehre of late, so I wanted to include that piece as well. I thought this inclusion was particularly poignant, as Sir Simon Rattle conducts this piece, and he will be coming to Melbourne next year to perform with the MSO as part of our partnership with the London Symphony. I’m ecstatic that the LSO and the MSO will be joining forces, so listening to Sir Simon Rattles work is particularly exciting for me at the moment.

Deep Sadness

As my friend pointed out, Nick Cave is not a name people would expect on an uplifting playlist. However, he did introduce me to this song, and our discussions post-listening really resonated with me. The giddy joy, all-consuming love coming from a musician of such intensity, combined with the awful flute (not recorder - also props to Warren Ellis) somehow hits differently. This happiness comes from deep sadness and I’m sure we can all relate to that in some way.


When I don’t know what’s up, I turn to trip hop. A recent obsession, but in the last few months, I’ve really come to love the beats and the chill vibe of bands such as Air and Massive Attack. I feel calm and relaxed, but still productive - it’s perfect for my generally more neutral moods.

Letting Loose

Now, it’s all well and good to be positive but life is just full of ups and downs. When the down hits, it can be a variety of feelings. One way for me to release these feelings is to listen to some metal. Scream into a pillow with Corey Taylor from Slipknot and I’ll feel good as new. While I tend to just put a playlist on and let myself loose, lately I’ve been exploring Megadeth, Ice Nine Kills, and maybe some Slayer to name a few.

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