The story begins with the description of a girl, amidst the crowded underground train platform, who is nervous yet excited to feel the vibrations of the approaching train. She was a deaf Scottish teenager who was going to attend her first day at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
She wasn’t deaf since birth but her loss of hearing had rather been a gradual process. When she was eight, Evelyn was waiting to play the piano once and when they called her name, she didn’t move. IT was then that her mother, Isabel Glennie, figured that something was wrong with her. By the time she was eleven, her headmistress asked her parents to take her to a specialist as her marks were deteriorating. She was advised to be sent to a school for deaf and to be given hearing aids.
But Evelyn wanted to live a normal life. She had a sincere interest in music which got triggered when she noticed a girl playing the xylophone and made up her mind to play it. While most of her teachers thought it was a bad idea, the percussionist, Ron Forbes, saw her potential and started teaching her by tuning two large drums to different notes. He suggested Evelyn since the sound some other way rather than listening through her ears and suddenly Evelyn could sense herself feeling the higher drum from the waist up and the lower one from the waist down. Forbes repeated this exercise with her until Evelyn figured that she could sense certain notes and vibrations in different parts of her body.
Evelyn toured the United Kingdom with a youth orchestra. At the age of sixteen, she had already decided to make music her life. So, she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music. Her results were excellent and she ended up scoring one of the highest marks in the history of the academy. Later, she moved to solo performances and received most of the top awards. The best part about her was that she never bragged about her achievements. She believed that if someone worked hard and knew where he was going, then he would definitely get there. This philosophy made her way right to the top.
It is definitely fascinating to see a person who cannot hear function with such ease. Evelyn expressed that men with bushy beards give her trouble because she does not only have to watch the lips to figure out what people are saying but also the whole face, particularly the eyes. Her speech is clear because she could hear till she was eleven but, with her hard work, she also managed to learn French and basic Japanese.
She expressed that music pours in through every part of her body. By leaning against the drums, she can feel the resonances flowing into her body. She can feel the vibrations passing through her feet and up her legs on a wooden platform.
In 1991, Evelyn was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Soloist of the Year Award. Percussionist James Blades said about her she might be deaf but she can feel much more deeply than anyone else and that is why she can express music so beautifully.
Evelyn confessed that she was always a workaholic as often she had to work harder than classical musicians but the rewards were extraordinary. In addition to regular concerts, she also performed for free in hospitals and prisons. She gave a lot of importance to classes for young musicians. Ann Richlin said that Evelyn is an inspiration for deaf children as seeing her shine made them believe that there is nothing that’s impossible.
Evelyn Glennie brought percussion to the front of the orchestra and showed how it can be very touching. And on top of everything, she has been an inspiration to the handicapped people and enormous pleasure to several people.
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