“My aim really is to teach the world to listen,” says Evelyn Glennie at the opening of her wildly popular 2003 TED Talk, “How to Truly Listen.” “That’s my only real aim in life.”
Much has changedÂ in the 12 years since the celebrated Scottish percussionistÂ urged an audienceÂ inÂ Monterey to “really use our bodies as a resonating chamber.” She’s since becomeÂ Dame Evelyn Glennie, her long dark hair has silvered, and she’s gone on record saying she’d like to record with rapper Eminem.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is theÂ public’s generalÂ understanding of how we listen. Glennie, who is profoundly deaf (unlike someone who is totally deaf, sheÂ hears some sounds), has long argued that “hearing” is not the same as “listening”â€”that in fact, ears are just one avenueÂ of receiving sound.
“Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch,” she writes in aÂ fascinating piece called “The Hearing Essay.”Â Â She demonstratesÂ this principle beautifully in “How to Truly Listen,” and 12 years laterÂ her messageÂ still, well, resonates. Enjoy it below, or listen to a 10-minuteÂ segment on from a June 2015 episode of NPR’s “The TED Radio Hour.”