Dame Evelyn Glennie, multi-percussionist who has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12, believes listening and music is a whole body experience.
I was brought up on a farm in Aberdeenshire. I went to Ellon Academy and a tiny country primary school called Cairnorrie. It only had about 37 to 42 pupils. In such a tiny environment, you could leave your doors open and be out on your bike late at night – it was pretty idyllic. Our parents didn’t have a worry in the world.
We were very lucky with the headmaster at Ellon Academy, Eric Slater. He believed that every child had a story to tell and that it was up to the school to find that particular seed that was of interest to each of them. Every single pupil mattered to him.
I’d still love to have a little croft somewhere. It was quite a shock to go to London where you felt completely hemmed in. It was, of course, hugely exciting and at just 16 years old, it was unbelievable. Seeing the variety of nationalities was actually quite a shock in itself because I hadn’t experienced that before.
I’ve discovered through travelling with my percussion how special things are right on your doorstep. When you’re away from a place, you can put everything into perspective and you realise how special a place Scotland is. Percussion is a never-ending tapestry of colour.
As a musician, sound is your ingredient. Sometimes you’re in a situation where the spoken word is a barrier; it could be the person you’re working with doesn’t speak English, but somehow when you bring the music together, that’s your language.
Your body is a resonating chamber… You’re allowing the sound to come through your body, all the way up and down. Nothing is choked at all; it’s being digested through the system. Everybody feels music. If you put the TV or the radio on, and hold a balloon up, you’d be amazed at the vibration you feel through your fingertips. That’s what I’m doing; I’m in tune with that feeling as much as I can be.
Meeting the Queen was amazingly special. There’s this incredible stability and graciousness about her. The night before I received my damehood I actually had an event in New York. I flew overnight, arrived at Heathrow, got changed into my dress at the airport and drove straight to Buckingham Palace where I met my three guests.
I then had to dash back home while my guests celebrated in London, because I had to fly off to Italy. There was no time to really digest the day. Nevertheless, it was quite special. I like to metal detect. I also enjoy going to antique fairs and pottering about in my garden – not that I know what I’m doing.
I have a book being launched called Listen World. We’ve taken lots of the speeches and presentation that I’ve done over the years.
There’s going to be a new Hilton hotel in Aberdeen. They’re naming a suite after me! I once had a bus named after me many years ago which was very funny. I haven’t ever been on it!
Visit www.evelyn.co.uk for more details.