Evelyn Glennie – inspiration

Last evening I watched the inspirational TED presentation from 2007 by Evelyn Glennie … and it lifted my spirits … yet again. No Power Point … no notes … just her and her passion and her music.

Her theme was ‘listen’ … how to listen to music with your whole body … she says that her only real aim in life is to teach people to listen … and as you listen to her explain this it becomes clear. To begin with, if you didn’t know she was deaf and didn’t know about her, you would wonder why she was taking her shoes off.  Then she ‘translates’ the notes of music … then she ‘interprets them’ and you begin to see a glimpse into her message. She teaches us the difference between a technician and a musician … and I thought about teaching children to read and write and how we teach them technically but without soul … and I wondered!

She explains her early music lessons were about total listening … not just with ears but with the whole body. Music, poetry, prose should be like that .. the experience of engagement should be beyond the technical … emotions need to be engaged. She explains how she listened by placing her hands on the wall so that the vibrations could be sensed by her body and that differentiating to nuances was all.

She talks about inclusion and how she became a student at the Royal Academy of Music by ‘forcing’ people see the passion in her life. She goes on using the idea of clapping thunder and snow  and rain and explains to the audience how adults are constrained by their experiences an conventions.

She explains how technique out of context does not work … she needed to relate the skills to the music … she needed the reason … and that was by saying something through the music. And that’s how it should be with children and reading and writing … they need to be saying something in their heads that needs to be said if it is writing and they need to be conjuring pictures in their minds if it is reading. She talks about taking note of the sound after the note was made or the drum was struck … I put that down to the after taste of a good wine or ruminating over a clever piece of writing or the power of a poet to say what needed to be said.

There is so much more in this … I am still listening to what she said …

Attribution: Original image: ‘Percusionista

by: Julián Rodriguez Orihuela

Released under an Attribution License

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