September 13, 2012     James Knapp

Just Breathe in the Sound of Music


     I don't know about you, but the first few weeks of September always seem to be a very hectic and stressful time. The lazier days of summer come to an abrupt end after Labor Day, and then, boom! It's full-speed ahead with planning international music tours, high school band festivals, and looking into fundraising opportunities for the next trip!

     I remember getting classes started, parent-teacher conferences and planning all the concerts for the academic year ahead. I constantly had to remind myself to breathe and listen. I found that listening to some soothing, wonderful music always lowers my blood pressure and heart rate without fail! Thus, I've most recently started a new project: music mediation four to five times a week. 

     Being a choral musician, I almost always listen to instrumental or keyboard music so as to not listen with a critical choral ear. Non-choral music allows me to just concentrate on the sounds without getting distracted by texts, style, and so on.

     One of the composers I listen to is David Lanz, a contemporary instrumental legend whose deeply-felt compositions helped forge the New Age music movement over 20 years ago.

     Another wonderful composer is pianist, Dana Cunningham.  She is a delightful woman who lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (I actually met her on A Greyhound Bus!)  Her recordings of The Color of Light and Dancing at the Gate are absolutely stunning.

     My ultimate goal is to have a healthy emotional balance and a calm alertness. When I listen, I allow the music to create a guided imagery, clearing my mind while relaxing my spirit. This meditative music has a very powerful effect: there is something so cleansing and healing about it. The sounds are infused with both a passion for music and a tranquility to face the chaotic world we all too often live in.

     It is remarkable where your journey can take you simply by breathing, listening and releasing. This revitalization makes me more effective in the classroom and in rehearsal.

Breathe and listen…

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