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Evelyn Glennie: If You Think You’ve Heard It All, Think Again

Topics: Music | Add A CommentBy admin | December 21, 2008

Dame Evelyn Glennie On Learning How To Listen

It would be impressive enough that percussionist Evelyn Glennie has worked with notable artists like Philip Glass, Bela Fleck, Ray Davies, Bjork, Fred Frith, Kodo, Bobby McFerrin, and Sting, but this is made a bit more impressive by the fact that she is “profoundly deaf”. Which is, by the way, a misleading term that she does her best to clarify here. In spite of her insistence that you disregard her “impairment” and instead focus on her musicianship, she does a great deal to help people reframe their rigid perceptions of what it means to hear and to listen in the first place. As part of her early musical training she learned to “hear” with her fingers, hands, and in fact, her entire body. And having turned a perceived adversity into an asset, she devotes considerable energy to motivational speaking, on top of performing 100+ times a year. The TED.com clip at left (view full size here) is a bit long for web viewing at over 30 minutes, but well worth a watch. Especially the piece she performs at the end, which powerfully shows the importance of dynamics in a piece of music. Although the piece is very harmonically simple, the dynamics of her playing nearly made me cry. But check her out for yourself, you can listen to a bunch of preview clips here.