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Evelyn Glennie


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Evelyn Glennie
Evelyn Glennie is a true musician. There are a lot of people out there that want to do what she did, and what she’s still doing, but frankly not many people are willing to put that much effort and time into achieving what she has. Not to mention that almost everyone lacks the talent. Evelyn hopes that the audience will be stimulated by what she has to say (through the language of music) and will therefore leave the concert hall feeling entertained. That is true musicianship.
Now is the time that I should start spouting off all of her amazing achievements, but if I attempted that not only would I get bored writing a list that long, but also you would get bored trying to read one. Plus I would most likely go far over the 750 required words for this essay. But I suppose it is necessary to mention a few of her many antecedents. For the first ten years of her career essentially every performance Evelyn gave was in some way a first. The first time an orchestra had performed with a percussion soloist, the first solo percussion performance at a venue or festival or the world premiere of a new percussion concerto. Evelyn has performed in approximately 42 countries. Evelyn was the first full time solo percussionist in the world. Evelyn has recorded 18 albums and is still working on more. At the age of 19 Evelyn graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. In 1991 Evelyn's autobiography 'Good Vibrations' was published and reprinted in 1995. In 1993 'Good Vibrations' was published in Japanese.
Yes Evelyn has lived an extraordinary life. She was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. And she went to school at Ellon Academy, Scotland. Her Conservatoire is The Royal Academy of Music, London. But I am making her sound she has always been this percussionist goddess whose whole life has been dedicated to her career. In some ways, though, she is just like you or me. As a child, Evelyn played the mouth organ and the clarinet. When she was a teenager, Evelyn wanted to be a hairdresser. But now she is very much a percussionist goddess who personally owns over 1800 instruments and in a live performance can use up to approximately 60 instruments.
One of the most amazing things about Evelyn is that she is legally deaf. It’s never been a big deal for Evelyn though; to her it’s like the fact that she has brown hair or brown eyes.

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If it were up to her nobody would know about it. If the audience is only wondering how a deaf musician can play percussion then Evelyn has failed as a musician. For this reason Evelyn's deafness is not mentioned in any of the information supplied by Evelyn's office to the press or concert promoters. Unfortunately, Evelyn's deafness makes good headlines. Evelyn has learnt from childhood that if she refuses to discuss her deafness with the media they will just make it up. Out of the several hundred articles and reviews written about Evelyn in just one year, that add up to a total of many thousands, only a handful accurately describe her hearing impairment.
Yeah she is legally deaf but she can still hear things vaguely. Deafness is poorly understood in general. For instance, there is a common misconception that deaf people live in a world of silence, which is totally untrue. For example, when her phone rings she hears a low crackling sound. She can hear when people speak to her, but she does have trouble comprehending what is being said without reading lips. Evelyn spent a lot of time when she was young (with the help of Ron Forbes her percussion teacher at school) refining her ability to detect vibrations. She would stand with her hands against the classroom wall while Ron played notes on the timpani. Eventually Evelyn managed to distinguish the rough pitch of notes by associating where on her body she felt the sound with the sense of perfect pitch she had before losing her hearing. The low sounds she feels mainly in her legs and feet and high sounds might be particular places on her face, neck and chest.
So, yeah, Evelyn is a true musician showing up almost all of us who, if inflicted with such a handicap, would just roll over and die of pity for ourselves. She’s taken what she’s been given and made an awe-inspiring life for herself. She inspires people all over the world by what she does. She even receives fan mail from 5 different countries in hundreds of different languages.



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