When the Song Fits the Mood

Every time I tested for a dan rank, I listened to one particular song or one particular band every time I drove to the dojo. This went on for the three months or so that I prepared for my test. I’m not sure why this happened, why one song would hit me so hard as I trained for a test.

When I prepared for my shodan (1st degree) test, I listened to Depeche Mode. This was especially strange, because I was never a Depeche Mode fan, despite being in high school when they were HUGE. I listened to one song in particular–Halo. Preparing for that test was one of the most taxing times of my life. I was stressed and freaked out about the whole process. When I think about the lyrics to Halo, it makes sense as to why I played this particular song so much:

“I can feel/the discomfort in your seat/and in your head it’s worse”, and “when our worlds/they fall apart/when the walls come tumbling in.” 

For my nidan test, I listened to Earth, Wind and Fire. Strange to go from Depeche Mode to EWF, but there it is. Like I said, I can’t explain it. The only thing I do know was that I was exceptionally calm all during the preparation for that test, so calm that my fellow aikidoka kept trying to push me into getting stressed out or keyed up! They’d do things like tell me (when I walked in the door to the dojo) that I was testing that day. Nothing.  No one could get a rise out of me or get me nervous. I wasn’t even nervous when I actually took the test. I was preternaturally calm. It even showed up on the video of the test—I looked half asleep! I guess cruising into the dojo with September and Boogie Wonderland in my head helped me keep my cool.

Then, in the summer of 2013, I was preparing for a sandan test (third degree) and the band for that test was Apocalyptica. Not the covers, but their original stuff, and particularly a song called Broken Pieces. Turns out Broken Pieces was a prescient choice. I went out three months before my test with an injury. I certainly felt like “broken pieces”! I didn’t test that year.

Spring of 2014 and it was time to prepare for that sandan test again. I was not nervous, just…edgy. Not so edgy that I wanted to listen to anything super heavy, but I wasn’t in the Earth, Wind and Fire mood either. I tried to relive that feeling, but every time September came on my MP3 shuffle, I skipped it. The band of choice instead was Lacuna Coil, a relatively heavy band with a male and a female singer.

A little heavy, a little edgy, but with positive lyrics. It felt like a good fit.

What about you? Have you had times in your life, that even though the process was basically the same, the soundtrack was different?

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