Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Playing -- Insight by Evelyn Glennie

I want to share with you my most inspiring internet discovery of late--the TED presentations.

There are more than 100 brief, mind popping talks, recorded and shared on the TED site on the topics of Technology, Entertainment, and Design, that are from a yearly conference held in my home state, California. I hope that you will listen to many of these talks but especially, toward the goal of becoming a more accomplished player, I hope you will listen to one. This one, my favorite, so far, is a talk by a deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, who manages, in her 30 minute presentation on listening to music, to describe the experience of playing with a child who has autism--my own and what I see parents enjoying. That is to say that once you have decided to play, no matter how differently you might have to approach the activity, it is an intense, amazing, joyful, creative experience.

Her talk is called How to Listen to Music with Your Whole Body. Idea highlights from her talk include: the importance of spending time and opening up mentally because first impressions are superficial, there are different levels of listening and participating that we are capable of when we extend our effort wider and deeper, there is a unique creative force in self-expression, behavior that does not express meaning and intention is empty (and relating this to play, communication behaviors are meaningful within the context of play--where these same behaviors may be empty in a drill-like context), there is an arbitrary and limiting nature to many boundaries and rules that we set for ourselves and others (imagine the loss if Evelyn Glennie's teacher had not found a way to teach her), sometime what appears to be a limitation (deafness in a musician or autism in a child) may offer the child and all of us an alternative, but beautiful way of experiencing the world ...

I have no idea if anyone else listening to this extraordinary woman will understand better all that is possible in spending time playing with a child who has autism--but I did and you may.

Here is the description of her presentation from the TED site:

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie leads the audience through an exploration of music not as notes on a page, but as an expression of the human experience. Playing with sensitivity and nuance informed by a soul-deep understanding of and connection to music, she talks about a music that is more than sound waves perceived by the human ear. She illustrates a richer picture that begins with listening to yourself, and includes emotion and intent as well as the complex role of physical spaces -- instrument, concert hall and even the bones and body cavities of musician and listener alike.

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