Evelyn Glennie – How to Listen

by Jason on June 28, 2009 · 1 comment

in Music, Teaching, Thoughts


“My job is all about listening, and my aim, really, is to teach the world to listen. That’s my only real aim in life.” – Evelyn Glennie

My new Twitter friend Andrew Goodrich from Artists House Music posted an amazing talk today (see below) that I had to share with you. This talk features Scottish percussionist and composer Dame Evelyn Glennie talking about how we hear music and how that effects the way we connect with sound.

If you don’t know Glennie, she is a Grammy Award winning composer, percussionist, teacher, motivational speaker and jewelry designer. And she’s deaf. She lost most of her hearing by the age of 12. Rather than let that stop her, she’s used it to deepen her understanding of how we relate to sound and to teach others some valuable lessons about music, sound and life. There is a wonderful documentary about her called Touch the Sound which details her approach to music and her belief that music is about listening and letting yourself be touched. She has collaborated with many world-class musicians in just about every genre, including Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Bela Fleck, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and countless symphony orchestras.

The talk centers around her idea that we listen to music with our whole bodies, not just through our ears. Some of the remarkable insights include her explanation of her first teacher’s methods, her musical illustrations of performing with your whole body, and her gentle rebuke of the audience for not thinking about clapping in different ways to produce different sounds.

What strikes me most about Glennie is not the fact that she is deaf. It’s the way she has come to view music and sound. Of course her views have been shaped by the fact that she hears differently than you and me. What’s remarkable is that she has formulated a different relationship to sound because of her situation and can help the rest of us find the same relationship, regardless of our situation.

I hope you are as inspired by this talk as I was. It’s long, but so worth it! And be sure to check out the beautiful piece she performs on the marimba that starts at 27:15.

Now I’m off to purchase some of her music!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brad June 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Thank you for the reminder!

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