Evelyn Glennie Percussionist

Dame Evelyn Glennie, is a solo percussionist, composer, teacher, motivational speaker and jewellery designer.

Evelyn ist a great artist, a star with a great music career. And Evelyns hearing is impaired. She hears in a different way to most people.

How does it work, to be a solo percussionist without "normally hearing"?

Listen to her; I'm sure, you will profit al lot! --> www.evelyn.co.uk/guidance/index.htm

Evelyn Glennie's Website: www.evelyn.co.uk


Interview in English


Evelyn Glennie, you are an extraordinary person in many ways. You are a percussionist, a woman, hearing impaired and you have great success in a male dominated profession. Is your handicap a problem in musician circles?

Among musician colleagues - No. We all make music together & respect each other for our music making. There is never really much time to discuss anything else. It is only journalists & other media forces who, IN THE MAIN, concentrate on the learning issue. I usually call the shots as to how I want people to treat me & they are usually surprised how unfussy and normal it all is. People with severe beards are advised to shave before expecting me to carry out a conversation with them.

What does music mean to you?

Music is a universal language but with lots of dialects. It is the one subject which can overcome the language barrier, wherever there is a drum, there is communication. There are no clan barriers with percussion. I can share it with babies all the way to the elderly.

You ran a workshop for students and a master course for adult musicians during the 1999 International Music Festival in Lucerne. Which one of those groups do you prefer to work with?

Children are children with no inhibitions. They are constantly on the move & continually soaking all that is around them & in turn expressing outwardly their emotions. Adults are 'the system', they are adhering to rules all the time & are more prone to holding in emotions. I need the balance of experiencing both, in the same way I need to play different types of music to keep me fresh & constantly curious.

You are travelling around the world a lot. Do you experience a difference between cultures with regard to how they see you? “How is it possible to be a musician being hearing impaired?” – this would be most likely the first question put by a typical European – and immediately music takes on a backstage.

Any disabled person is treated differently throughout the world. In the west, we are in general reasonably open about disabilities although there is still huge developments of understanding to be made. In the Far East, especially Japan, they often refer to their deaf people as 'deaf & dumb'. This is insulting to us in the West. One has to keep an open mind as to place. All I do is play music & that is what I'm usually hired to do. It is therefore important that people understand that they have experienced the music of a musician, not a deaf musician.

You recorded many different CDs. You are a solo player in conjunction with smaller and bigger bands just like the Black Dyke Band and also with symphony orchestras. You master all different styles. What type of style do you prefer most and what’s the difference in playing and working with different formations?

I like the variety in styles. My speciality is solo percussion & I'm still the only FULL TIME solo percussionist in the world. I love giving concertos with orchestras. Every time I pick up my mallets, I have to concentrate & let the imagination do the speaking. This is the case no matter which musical setting I'm in.

If someone were comparing you with Ludwig van Beethoven what would be your answer?

What a compliment! Beethoven is one of my music inspirations - because of the music he wrote & the emotion it brings. Personally I can begin to understand all the internal states one experiences as a deaf person which are never put into words. The inner turmoil can be scary at times but at least we have/had the tools to release these emotions i.e. my instruments, sticks etc.

You find yourself in a privileged situation. Not every hearing impaired person has got the possibility of working a job of dream and having such an integrated life just like you have. Do you request the integration of people with disabilities?

Integration is the key word. It is so necessary, I cannot express it enough. We ALL have disabilities, we all have bad habits. We are constantly developing the art of flexibility with each other. We have to make the effort to try to understand each other. After all we only have the one chance to do it.

You are a very active and busy woman working with people on a daily base. What do you enjoy about and what does anger you sometimes?

I like the balance of working with people & working on my own. This is why music is good. You can keep it private or you can play to a tiny group or to thousands of people. I'm a workaholic so I assume everybody else is to! This makes it sometimes difficult for the people around me for i expect so much. However, I detest laziness, non-comitment & the lack of initiative or imagination. My whole world is based on the imagination, not how many hours I practice.

What’s your message to young people in regard of their future?

Explore, be prepared for not being prepared (if you see what I mean), keep an open mind to all things around you & use every day as a way to enhance your mind & body. There is room & a need for all of us on this earth & me just have to find the seeds that make us come alive.


If you would also like to have a look at the press pack (www.evelyn.co.uk) you may find this useful aswell.

Evelyn, thanks a lot for this interview – and best wishes for a successful and satisfactory work ahead.

Interview: Christine Fischer with a bit English help from Ursula Simak:-)