She’s been deaf from birth, but with her analogue hearing aids she has forged a career as a professional musician, teacher, visual artist and creative powerhouse
and, on the whole it’s just like it’s expressive arts.
BDN: You’ve played with some of the best Orchestras in the world – which experience will you never forget?
The Great Hall in Moscow. The Deaf Community Association in Moscow somehow heard about the concert and came along to watch. I had no idea this had happened and at the end they all came to find me. The reception, the praise and hugs I received from them was wonderful. I was also signing a lot of autographs too!
BDN: What was it like performing with Dame Evelyn Glennie?
I enjoyed playing with Evelyn. She was actually my role model when I was a teenager. I didn’t know anyone else as incredible as her at the time.
I looked up to her because she went through that herself. But she was always on the go – she never stopped. With music there’s so much more to do, learn and discover.
BDN: What’s the feeling like of successfully transitioning your students via exams through the Royal School of Music?
Fantastic. I really love my job as a flute teacher. I’ve been doing it for nearly 15 years now. Being able to read and analyse as well as interpret music on the flute is a skill I have passed on and instilled in all of my pupils.
I have a private teaching practice. Nearly all of them started at the beginning with me and have gone on to be very high-level players.
Next month, two of my flute students will go on to study music – one at Oxford University and the other at Chichester. A lot of my students are actively playing in their local youth orchestra, winning prizes in competitions and being invited to public concerts.
BDN: You’ve received countless accolades and awards for your work – what¹s an achievement you’re most proud of?
I enjoy performing and it is nice to be given some recognition. When playing on the stage with the orchestra, I think to myself ‘Bloody hell, did I really do it?’
Looking back it took a lot of guts but I wasn’t scared because I was so secure in my knowledge about the Flute Concerto I was performing and just letting my flute sing with the orchestra.
BDN: What’s the best lesson you learnt the hard way?
If there’s a very difficult piece of music that I feel I can’t perform – it’s not the fault of my deafness – I just need to shut up, do more practice and get on with it!
BDN: What’s the best piece of advice you¹ve been given?
When I was 18 and just left Mary Hare and entered one of London’s top music colleges, my flute teacher at the time, Ann Cherry, told me to take risks. The late afternoon sun was shining on her face through the window and she was very direct about it. She knew of my capabilities as a musician and from that point onwards my playing went on to a new level. It was that ‘kick’ and a leap of faith I needed.
BDN: Which Deaf person do you find most inspiring?
I am inspired by my close friends and many other high achievers in the Deaf community whether it is in the arts, acting, teaching, community service and sports. They are passionate about what they do; making positive changes and the goals they strive for in their lives. I get this sense of community pride that lifts me up too.
BDN: What’s your advice to young Deaf people who wish to break into the arts?
Believe in yourself and take risks.
Catch Ruth in Budapest, 28 Sept-2 Oct – bit.ly/ruthbudapest
Published in BDN October 2015 issue