I am a teacher to school children now. Shifting from HigherEd to training teachers across the country and then landing in the K-12 classrooms has not changed much in me and for me. The intent is the same: engage and empower. To deliver the message of authenticity and communication, I have interacted with every possible thing - be it students, resources, technology, books and even the chapter authors.
The textbook of English for Grade 9, compiled by NCERT and prescribed by CBSE, has a chapter named: The Sound of Music. The first part is titled Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It. This carries the biography of Evelyn Glennie who lost her hearing but went ahead with her passion for music. Now she is a celebrity and is a global artist. The other part of the same chapter is on the legendary Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb. Of course, I was bound to make the students listen to the magical rendition by Ustad Saheb and they did. To talk about Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb is something of our own family members, so it went like that.
About Evelyn, I turned curious and wished that she could be the one whom we can approach, even from Kurukshetra. So, an e-mail was sent to her on 15 May 2021. It reads:
I am Parveen, from India.
I am an educator - teaching English. I shall be starting with a chapter with our Grade IX kids, it is a chapter on Evelyn Glennie by DEBORAH COWLEY.
As we open them to the world of "Listening" and "Music", I strongly felt like conveying this to the legend and her team.
The words have a musical reverberation effect on my ears when I hear her saying, her job is to: Teach the World to Listen.
I am not sure it is possible for me to get a reply to this message.
if it does reach you all - and the kids who shall read about her, who shall be inspired and shall see the worth of 'Listening' -
A small message to tell them - Why it is of utmost importance to 'feel and listen' music - can change the way they shall read the chapter.
We wish you all a safe and healthy life.
Loads of Love from India.
And in a couple of days, before we could finish the reading of the chapter, her reply was there on 18 May 2021:
Every day we all have an opportunity to build bridges through listening with intention and respect. That is what listening is about. It allows us to make a connection with all that is around us. We give ourselves the opportunity to listen to ourselves and how we relate to what we are listening to. For example, if I see a bird in my garden I use my eyes to listen to it. I immediately sense my body and mind engaging with the bird and therefore adding it as something positive and joyful in my life. It need only be a few seconds but I know that my attention was given fully to listening to the bird. This action then becomes a habit and before you know it everything around you becomes much more vivid with all of your senses participating in the act of listening.
Engaging with musical sounds is a wonderful way to open your body up like a huge ear. Sound is vibration and therefore the whole body can participate in receiving sound. Try holding a balloon with both hands and listen to tabla or a voice. What are you feeling and where? Sing into the balloon yourself and notice where in your hands and fingers you are feeling the sound. More importantly, notice how you become more attentive to the process of digesting the sound through the body. This is what I had to do as a young child and now it is normal for me to function in this way. I can really make each sound my own just as you can. In a way, I view sound in a similar way to a food diet. What sounds are you feeding yourself and how do they make you feel? You can try to digest your sound world so that it helps you create lasting bridges.
Her website shares her bio as:
Dame Evelyn Glennie is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist, performing worldwide with the greatest orchestras, conductors and artists. Growing up on a farm in the northeast of Scotland, Evelyn became drawn to percussion as her hearing declined because she could ‘feel the sound’. At the age of 16, she gained a place at The Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied orchestral percussion and piano. She quickly realised that there was a life for percussion outside the orchestra and became determined to define a new genre of solo percussion. Evelyn paved the way for orchestras globally to feature percussion concerti when she played the first percussion concerto in the history of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992.
This qualifies to be a motivational post on the blog. It gives me a reason to reiterate the power of communication and establishing a dialogue. When you have an honest reason to talk to someone, they shall respond. Being a teacher who was going to teach the chapter on Evelyn Glennie; being the teacher who wrote to her on behalf of the students; being a teacher who attempts authenticity each day; and Being a teacher-learner, I could support my claim that 'it is worth to communicate'.
She wrote back and the message that came from the legend is itself a testimony that the people who have been achievers have a lot to say. There is enough space in their heart and schedules as well. So, go ahead to write to those who should respond back. More than their response, it is your own expression that you need to see. The first reward is you coming out of the overwhelming feeling and start writing; if they reply, that is the second reward actually.
Just as a bonus, do not miss listening to the divine voice and the worth-worshipping sweetness of expression - Ustad Bismillah Khan: