I had planned to write a blog post on a completely different topic tonight. Actually, I’d planned on writing it last night, but a completely random video shared with me through social media completely affected me in such a way that the blog post and what I had to say before that moment just didn’t matter anymore. As of tonight, I’ve probably watched (listened to, really) the video at least 15 times. I’ve had these feelings several times before. It has been a while, but I’m recognizing it and the familiar feeling is coming back to me. My mind is so clear now… and so something else is clear to me as well… the fact that these feelings need to be my blog post. At first I thought “Well this is the music part of me… how will I play this off in a paranormal/spiritual blog?” Then in that clear and focused space in my head, I realized it did indeed fit. I promise you I’m not high. Okay follow me.
Me… about a decade ago, trying for one of those “angel moments”.
Many of you know that outside of my many nerdly hobbies, I’m also a music teacher and choir director. Growing up, music played a massive part in creating who I am today. Some of my earliest memories include powerful musical experiences… some from church, some from home, and some from theatrical performances. I’ve actually written about a few of these in one of my earliest blog posts. I often wonder, for example, what my parents must have thought about those moments when I listened to the same track from certain orchestral film scores over and over… picturing a story in my head (not necessarily the one from the movie) and crying from the emotion of the music. Rewind. Listen to it again. Cry. Rewind. Listen again. My students know these as “angel moments”… and even though they don’t happen often, they know when they got me. They cheer and exclaim things like “Mr. Keller! We just had an angel moment!” Yes we did… and Thank God for those moments when they happen.
I’m sure you’ve had these angel moments… though perhaps it doesn’t involve music for everyone. Can anyone really explain what’s happening during these powerful experiences? I’m not sure I can. In fact, in the case of tonight and last night, it’s like my mind and brain checked out and I just felt and experienced. Then sometimes it’s like an obsession. For example, I’m fighting the need to stop typing to replay it again right now. I’d LOVE to know what the brain activity of an angel moment looks like. I’m sure there’s research out there.
So my question is: Is this a form of meditation? Is it meditation if I’m focusing so deeply on what I’m hearing and how it makes me feel? Am I in some sort of trance state? As I said in the first paragraph, after listening a few times and having those angel moments, my mind is super clear, giving me the ability to do things like freely write this blog post. (Writing doesn’t always come easy for me. When I’m inspired I have to run with it.)
I have many examples I could give of times when music affected me like this. Unfortunately, most of these experiences can’t be found on YouTube or iTunes… and it probably wouldn’t have the same meaning or bring up the same emotions for everybody. But you’ve got to listen to this amazing a cappella performance of this obviously talented and genius young man. It’s linked at the end of the post. The fact that people are able to do these things just blows my mind.
Before someone tells me I’m not meditating if I’m listening to and processing words, I have to explain something. It is very unusual in my profession as a choir director, and many people don’t understand this and disagree with my opinion on it, but I do not often “hear” lyrics or words in music. Words don’t even have much value in my ability to perform, enjoy, or hear the “story” in a piece of music. My story might just be different from yours. So yes, the hymn below obviously has a Christian message, but I promise you it’s the sounds and the intense harmonies that I hear. It’s the emotion and the drama. As someone who has fond and nostalgic memories of the music growing up in the church (and the music would be one of few positive experiences from those days), it’s also a very familiar melody to me. But seriously, the entire song might as well be sung as an “ooh” or on a “la” as far as I’m concerned. Now I know this is not typical, so in my field I have to constantly remind myself that most people, including my students, place a large value on the words and what the lyrics mean to them. It also means I suck at the lyrics to my favorite songs. Yeah… I’m one of those people.
One of my favorite quotes:
“Music is what feelings sound like.”
Listen to the hymn HERE.
So what do you think? Are angel moments a form of meditation? Is it something else? Do you have any of your own moments to share? (I’m also curious… can you hear this without the words? And if so, do you get the same angel moments?)
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