With the help of strangers on social news site Reddit, a deaf young man who just got fitted with new hearing aids is being introduced to the wonderful world of music.
Austin Chapman was "born profoundly deaf" and all music had sounded terrible to him through his old hearing aids.
As a result, the 23-year-old filmmaker said he never understood music or why people would react so profoundly to a song.
"My whole life I've seen hearing people make a fool of themselves singing their favorite song or gyrating on the dance floor. I've also seen hearing people moved to tears by a single song," wrote Chapman in a post on his film studio's blog. "[It] was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. All music sounded like trash through my hearing aids."
But this week, Chapman's aural universe was turned upside down when he put in a new pair of hearing aids for the first time in years:
The first thing I heard was my shoe scraping across the carpet; it startled me. I have never heard that before and out of ignorance, I assumed it was too quiet for anyone to hear. I sat in the doctor’s office frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me.
Chapman soon realized that his old hearing aids had given him "a distorted version of music," as they had not been capable of "distributing higher frequencies with clarity."
That night, Chapman said a group of friends introduced him to the music that he had never been able to appreciate before. From Mozart to Michael Jackson, Radiohead to the Rolling Stones, Chapman's "music education" had begun:
When Mozart’s Lacrimosa came on, I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn’t a dry eye in the car.
"I finally understood the power of music," he said.
But that was just the beginning.
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Chapman with his new hearing aids
On Wednesday, Chapman posted his story on Reddit and called for suggestions for other songs that he should listen to.
"Give me the name of the most beautiful songs to you," he wrote.
Within hours, more than 14,000 comments had poured in.
From Brahms to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix to Frank Sinatra, hundreds of users came forward with musical suggestions and words of support.
"[It's been] inspiring and insightful," Chapman told the HuffPost. "I love the comments that explain thoroughly why or what. I feel like I'm getting a free education in music from the world's best teacher."
Chapman noted that one of the most popular comments so far hasn't been a song but rather a suggestion to listen to music from its origins.
"This is like introducing an Alien to the music of Earth. I wouldn't know where to start. Once you're through your kick on Classical, I might start with music from the 50's and progress through each decade. You can really see the growth of modern music like that," user GiraffeKiller wrote.
Chapman, who said he will be blogging about his musical journey in the coming weeks, heartily agreed and said he would start with a song by a Medieval composer -- Guillaume de Machaut's Agnus Dei from the 14th century.
However, though Chapman said he is excited to start on this musical adventure and is "beyond grateful" for this new gift, he insists that his favorite sound is one that he's long been familiar with.
"Silence is still my favorite sound. When I turn my aids off my thoughts become more clear and it's absolutely peaceful," he said.
"The Reddit commenters also helped me realize what a gift I have now -- being able to enjoy utter silence and music at the same time. Not just that, but in a virginal unbiased way that very few people have," he told HuffPost.
Related on HuffPost:
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