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Evelyn Glennie Store
05 April 2013
Are you coming from the Heart?
Image by Rachel Blackwell
Since I began learning and playing percussion and indeed piano and clarinet there has been a fascination about how I can possibly accomplish these things with a severe hearing loss impairment. In the early years it was inconceivable that I would be able to participate, let alone carve a new career as a solo percussionist. Over the years I have spent a lot of time breaking down barriers, shedding concerns and dispelling doubts about my own, and others, ability to enjoy and participate in music.
My quest was beautifully supported by a play written by
titled Playing from the Heart. A Washington DC film company,
took up the challenge and produced a film of the same name.
The title 'Playing from the Heart' has depth and meaning to me which is often reflected in others around me. I share patronage with many charities and I see people strive to provide the most basic of comforts; clean water, nourishment, and education are the simplest commodities of life that most of us take for granted. I feel passionately about trying to inspire the young and to encourage parents to allow exploration without prejudice. I receive many letters and emails from teachers who find themselves faced with a disabled student and they feel unqualified, to teach them in the traditional manner.You can take it from me 'normal is as normal does', in which I mean from birth we are learning whether or not we are born or become disabled. Our learning capacity may be hampered but what we sometimes need to think about is how to teach someone with a particular impairment. In other words we need to teach the same subjects, but differently.
In my case I had to learn to '
' music using all the senses in my body. I was not specifically aware I was doing this however that is what has happened. I see something very similar in the sensory development of the blind where some senses, such as hearing and feeling through the hands, become more sensitive thus enabling the mind to envisage objects or sounds around them.
'Against all odds' is another term that evokes incredible emotion both negative and positive. Before I met
, the prospect of participating in the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games seemed an impossible dream. I soon realised people like Danny Boyle are amazing visionaries. He had a concept in his head of an opening ceremony like no other. He was able to share that vision with funders, creative teams, major organising bodies, artists and especially volunteers. He 'enabled' us all to believe the impossible could be accomplished. Each segment was discussed and put into practice in isolation. As one of the artists I just had to believe in his directive and do my job. The one thing I knew was I had to do it well - therefore I would say to all of you who are in doubt if you believe it can work even if it means adapting or exploring other ways of doing something then put your heart and soul into it and it will happen.
01 March 2013
At the beginning of the week I accidentally cut my first finger on my right hand on the sharp edge of a tin lid that I had foolishly left in the washing up bowl.
I have been amazed at how such a tiny cut has become so debilitating. So many things we take for granted are suddenly made much more difficult to do. Fastening buttons, typing, holding mallets, opening bottles and even doing up my bra have been extremely hard to accommodate with my bandaged finger. So poor me!
Frustrated by my limitations I found myself considering how it must feel to suffer much worse disabilities. I recently performed a double concerto for percussion and cello written by Olga Hans for Dominik Połoński and myself. Dominik was born in 1977 and for many years he was absolutely the number one young talent in Poland. He achieved almost everything for a Young musician - won several competitions, played concerts, recorded many CD's, received a scholarship at the legendary Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid, where he studied under Natalia Szachowska, and Mścisław Rostropowicz.
In 2004 he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went through 4 operations and his left hand remains disabled. In 2006 Doctors told him 'this is it', and gave him 3 weeks to live. Dominik started working with therapists using only his mind. After a while the cancer was gone.
In January 2009 he returned to the stage and performed a piece by Olga Hans -
first cello concerto for the right hand.
During our recent performance in Lodz, Poland I was and remain deeply humbled by Dominik's tenacity and determination and performing with him will always be one of my proudest moments.
Here in the UK we are on the run up to
and each time I see the work of the charities including
Able Child Africa
I can only imagine the overwhelming sense of futility for millions of children with disabilities in the poorest parts of the world. How would I feel if I had not had the support of a peripatetic teacher or my family and friends? What would my life have been like if I had been born deaf in Africa where the only hope must come from the kindness of others?
I am always heartened by the generosity of those who pledge millions each year for charities who are supported by Comic Relief and I am hoping to visit some of the projects in Kenya and Uganda to see for myself how our efforts are put to good use and how we are making a difference - so please dig deep in your hearts and pockets and know that every small donation really does help.
Are you coming from the Heart?
05 April 2013
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