PASSED/FAILED: Evelyn Glennie

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The Independent Online
Evelyn Glennie OBE, 31, is a solo percussionist who has appeared with, among others, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the singer Bjork on MTV. She first experienced hearing difficulties at the age of eight, and at 12 was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf. In 1989 she gave the first performance of solo percussion at a Prom, and on 26 July will be playing "Percussion Concerto", specially written for her by Jonathan Harvey. "Her Greatest Hits" compilation album has just been released.

Overture? Cairnorrie Primary School, 26 miles north of Aberdeen, was a country school with two teachers and an average of about 40 pupils. It had a visiting music teacher every Friday, who took singing and recorder groups. This was probably the highlight of the week. Low notes? Round about the age of eight I began to find it difficult to understand what was being said in the classroom, and at 10 I began wearing a hearing aid.

Secondary movement? Ellon Academy, 16 miles north of Aberdeen, was a comprehensive of 1,300 pupils. There was a very good music department, a good art department and a debating society - it was a healthy, well- rounded comprehensive. I spent a lot of time in the music department and would play for shows and Christmas concerts.

Exams? I took eight O-levels, with As and Bs but a C in Latin, which was a surprise as I wasn't meant to pass. I did Highers in a year: music, French and English. When I was 16 I took the entrance exam to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

RAM raiding? I knew my career would be in practical performance but I needed the back-up of a degree. A university would have been more theory- based than music institutions such as RAM. All the students were at least two years older than me. Some, like me, knew what they wanted to do afterwards: some playing in an orchestra, some teaching, some becoming composers. They are all scattered throughout the world, but very occasionally I bump into my fellow students.

High notes? I used to enjoy the visits, one day a term, from James Blades, the grandfather of British percussion, who had come into contact with composers such as Britten and Stravinsky. I gave the first solo percussion recital in the history of the Academy, and also the first percussion concerto; this was composed by another student. History lessons were boring, and no one understood anything.

Applause? I have maybe six or seven honorary degrees. Each one is special but the first, from Aberdeen, was important because it was on home groundn