Spiritual Music for Anyone and Everyone

chanting-groupSo you’re not religious, but you still want to enjoy some spiritual music this holiday season? Corvallis has plenty to offer, from drumming to chanting.

‘The Drums Make People Dance’
On the first Saturday of every month, between 10 and 60 people gather for the Corvallis Drum Circle, held in the winter at 101 NW 23rd Street and in the summer at the Corvallis Riverfront Park.

“It’s called a drum circle, but to me, it’s more than just drums,” said Michelle Lovrich, the circle’s facilitator and a drum instructor. “It’s really about playing with rhythm and time.”

Lovrich uses this notion of play to create a low-pressure environment.

“I play games to get people to listen to each other,” she said. “Listening to each other is what makes a drum circle great.”

All are welcome to participate, including those with no musical experience. Those with instruments are welcome to bring them, but Lovrich also provides small percussion items like shakers and wood blocks, as well as a few hand drums.

The goal is not only that participants experience rhythmic play, but also that they build community.

“I want it to be just rhythmic exploration,” Lovrich said. “It’s all about your own rhythm and what you have to bring. There is no wrong.”

‘When You Do These Chants, You Open Yourself Up to These Energetic Beings’
Every second Friday at 7 p.m., the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2945 NW Circle Boulevard, hosts the New World Kirtan Band. Kirtan is a call-and-response type of music with Hindu origins. In the West, the practice has been largely secularized.

Michelle Wright Watson, a regular participant in Corvallis Kirtan events and organizer of the local Kirtan Meetup group, compared the events to a meditation.

“It really focuses you and draws you in and gets rid of the peripheral world,” she said. “That’s a really, really useful thing.”

Wright-Watson said that about 30 to 60 people regularly attend the second Friday Kirtan events, and on off Fridays, a 15- to 30-person meditation group that incorporates elements of Kirtan meets at the same time.

For Wright-Watson, Kirtan represents a “religious experience without any of the dogma.”

“These chants have been used for thousands of years,” she said. “They have built up something that goes with them. I’m not a highly religious person, but I do believe there are highly energetic beings. And when you do these chants, you open yourself up to these energetic beings.”

French-Inspired Musical Meditation
Every first Sunday at 7 p.m. the Good Samaritan Episcopalian Church, 3498 NW Harrison Boulevard, hosts a Taizé service. The service gets its name from an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, France, and it consists of meditations sung in candlelight and accompanied by piano and other musical instruments.

“The idea is that people can learn it really quickly, and they can meditate on it or sing or pray,” said James Moursund, the church’s music director.

In addition to participating in the service, those who are musically inclined might want to volunteer to play their instruments during the service—just show up an hour ahead of the service for a rehearsal.

On non-Taizé Sundays at the same time, those who are more religiously inclined can participate in the church’s sung Compline, or final weekly prayer.

A Moment of Silence
After your drumming, Kirtan, and Taizé, you might be ready for a little silence. Perhaps a meditative walk? Both Good Samaritan and First United Methodist Church, 1165 NW Monroe Avenue, offer public access to labyrinths.

Labyrinths are mazes that have a long history of being used in many faith traditions. The Methodist Church’s website offers the following advice to labyrinth walkers:

When walking the labyrinth, find your own pace. Let yourself experience sharing the path with others. While waiting your turn, the position of witness is extremely important to yourself and those already walking. Walking the labyrinth is an opportunity to let go of the past and come into the moment of mind, body, and feet connecting with the path beneath you.

The Methodist labyrinth is located in the building’s Wesley Hall, and visitors should call ahead to confirm the room is available for use. The Good Samaritan labyrinth is outside and open 24/7.

Join the next Corvallis Drum Circle at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 101 NW 23rd Street. Catch the next full-band Kirtan on Friday, Jan. 13 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2945 NW Circle Boulevard. Good Samaritan’s next non-denominational Taizé service isn’t until February, but you can check out the sung Compline every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at 3498 NW Harrison Boulevard. All events are free, with optional donations.

By Maggie Anderson

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