This past weekend the Regina Symphony Orchestra had their opening night for the 2017-2018 season. For their opening night they had a percussion soloist. Her name is Dame Evelyn Glennie. She is the first person in the world to make a career from being a solo percussionist. On top of being a solo percussionist, she is also deaf. She lost her hearing when she was 12 years old. On Friday the University of Regina had the opportunity to have her speak and share about music. I feel like I have a whole new way of looking at music after hearing Evelyn. She started out by saying that when she went for her first percussion lesson her teacher just gave her a snare drum and said see you next week. There were no sticks, nor a stand for the drum, just the drum. During the week she made different motions/sounds on the drum. Her next lesson her teacher told her to play the snare drum as if it was a tractor. Since she grew up on a farm she wondered what kind of tractor; a tractor that was stopped, a slow tractor, a bumpy tractor, etc.. The decision was up to her. And from the decision she could experiment with music. She said her teacher could have just told her, stand this way, this is the posture, hold the sticks this way, and so on. But by giving Evelyn a choice of what tractor she wanted the drum to sound like, she was able to experiment with music. Evelyn said she found that very valuable. One of the questions that was asked was how does her hearing work? She said that when she started playing percussion her teacher tuned 3 or 4 timpani to different intervals and she would hit the timpani with the mallet and her teacher asked her where she felt the vibrations in her body. For example she could maybe feel the note “C” in her fingers and the note “F” in her arm. The teacher kept tuning the timpani to smaller and smaller intervals apart and maybe now she could feel a “C” in the top of her fingers and maybe a “C#” in the middle of her fingers. As someone who has hearing that was a new way for me to look at music. I’m all about hearing the music and hearing if there is something wrong, but Evelyn has to rely on the vibrations she feels in her body. She has to rely on her other senses. She also said she treats every piece at every concert like it is a world premiere. If you don’t treat the piece like it is a world premiere eventually you will not be excited to play it anymore and it becomes a chore and not an enjoyment. I know for me some days I just don’t want to play certain piece because I’ve felt like I’ve played it enough times, but I never know who is listening and maybe they have never heard the piece that I am playing before. But even if you don’t want to rehearse/practice that day you still need to have a goal to accomplish. At concerts she plays without shoes so that her feet can feel the vibrations of the music on the floor. Every stage she performs on is different. It could be a wooden stage or a metal stage, etc.. So the vibrations she feels will not always be felt in the same spot. On Saturday when I went to the Symphony to hear Evelyn perform, she was amazing. Even when I saw her on Friday you wouldn’t have been able to tell that she was deaf. I was just so amazed watching her play. Dame Evelyn Glennie gave me a whole new way and a whole new perspective of looking at music.
Evelyn Glennie’s story is so inspiring! I can’t imagine being able to play music without hearing it. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Mandy Harvey, a singer who was on America’s Got Talent who is also profoundly deaf. She wrote a book recently which tells her story and explains more about how she manages to sing. It’s called Sensing The Rhythm, and I wrote a post about it which you can find if you’re interested by clicking on the Book Review page on my blog.
Thanks for visiting my blog today too. I was planning to return the visit later but my friend actually just emailed me a link to this post as she thought I would like it so that got me here a little sooner!
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I saw the audition of Mandy Harvey. I was so impressed. I didn’t know that she wrote a book. That would be so good to read.
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