(Explanation, Meaning of difficult words)

Part I

Evelyn Glennie Listens to Sound without Hearing It

Author – Deborah Cowley


God has not given her the ability to listen. But God has given her something special. Whatever we listen, she can feel. She can feel more deeply and correctly that any of us can. This is the reason she can express through music so nicely.

Please read the following description of a person who had fought against a physical disability. She achieved success in her life.


Word Meaning
Rush hour Time of heavy rush
Jostled Pushed each other especially in a crowd
Position Space, Seat
Slight Small

This was the time when  rush used to be more at the underground railway station. People were pushing each other in the crowd. A little girl appeared less than seventeen. She was nervous yet excited to feel vibrations of the coming train.




Word Meaning
Prestigious Reputed
Daunting Afraid, Worried, Difficult
Scottish Belonging to Scotland
Aspiring Hopeful, Hoping to become something
Profoundly Extremely, Completely
Deaf One who cannot hear

It would be her first day at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This institute is highly reputed. Any teenager would have been quite worried on the first day at this institute. She belonged to a family of farmers from Scotland. But this person who was hopeful of becoming a musician faced a bigger challenge. She was almost completely deaf.



Word Meaning
Gradual A slow process

Name of her mother was Isabel Glennie. Evelyn had lost the ability of listening gradually. While Evelyn was playing a piano, her mother had noticed something wrong. Mother called out name of Evelyn but she did not move at all. Her mother suddenly understood that her daughter did not hear her name being called out.


Word Meaning
Quite a while For a small duration of time, Sometime
Conceal Hide
Growing Increasing
Deteriorated Decreased
Urged Requested, Advised

For some time, Evelyn was successful in hiding her deafness from her friends and teachers. By the time she became 11, she started getting less marks in her exam. The principal of her school advised her parents to consult a specialist doctor.



Word Meaning
Severely Greatly
Impaired Damaged
Hearing aid A devise to help in hearing

The doctor found that hearing of Evelyn was damaged to a great extent due to gradual damage of a nerve of the ear. Doctor advised them that a hearing aid should be fitted in the ears of Evelyn. She should be sent to a school where only deaf children studied. Evelyn recalls that suddenly everything started looking sad.


Word Meaning
Give up Accept defeat, Stop making efforts
Pursue Follow, Engage
Xylophone A musical instrument

Evelyn was not ready to accept defeat so easily. She had the determination to lead life of a normal person. She wanted to follow her interest in music. One day she saw that a girl was playing xylophone. She decided that she would also learn to play xylophone.


Word Meaning
Discouraged Demoralize, Opposite of encouraged
Potential Ability, Prospects, Possibility
Percussion instrument An instrument played by hitting with hand or a stick
Percussionist Person playing percussion musical instruments
Tuning Setting of a musical instrument
Notes A single sound at a particular level
Sense it Feel it

Most of the teachers did not encourage her. But percussionist Rob Forbes understood that she had an ability. He tuned two large drums to different notes. He advised Evelyn not to listen to these through ears. He advised her to feel their sound through some other means.


Word Meaning
Discovered Found

Evelyn told that she suddenly realised that she could feel beats of the higher drum in her body above her waist. She could feel beats or sound of the lower drum in her body below her waist. Forbes repeated these exercises many number of times. Very soon Evelyn found that she was able to feel certain notes of music in different part of her body.


Word Meaning
Discovered Found
Sheer Purely, Completely

I understood and learnt to feel sounds and vibrations of music through my mind and my body. The remaining work was purely a matter of determination and hard work.


Word Meaning
Never looked back Became successful, Progressed further

After that she became successful. She travelled throughout United Kingdom with a orchestra of young people. By the time she became 16, she had decided to pursue music in her life.


Word Meaning
Auditioned Gave a trial
Solo Single

She gave a trial for admission into Royal Academy of Music. She scored one of the highest marks ever scored by anyone in the past. Gradually she stopped giving performance in orchestra. She started giving performance as a single artist. By the end of her three year study at the Academy, she had won most of the top awards.


Word Meaning
Hint Sign, Appreciation
Heroic Being a hero, Being a great achiever
Most sought-after Most admired, Most popular

In spite of being such a good musician, Evelyn never considered herself a big achiever. She was modest even during her success. She used to tell that if one worked hard and knew about one’s goals, one could reach there. And she reached at the top of her profession. She was the most popular musician in the world who could play many instruments. She had a very busy travel schedule across the globe.


Word Meaning
Intriguing Curious, Fascinating
Function Move, Perform
Bushy beard Thick beard, Big beard

It is so fascinating to note that Evelyn performed and did his routine works so easily. It did not appear that she was making lot of efforts. We talked to her for about two hours. She understood every word that we spoke. She said that understanding speech of people having thick beard was quite troublesome for her.


Word Meaning
Flawlessly Without any mistake
Scottish lilt Accent of Scotland

She had trouble understanding voice of people with big beard because she could not watch their lip movement. She found reading their eyes also difficult. She used to speak with accent of Scotland. She explained that her voice was clear because she could hear till the age of eleven. But this reason does not explain how she could learn French and German. Author is trying to appreciate her efforts even after she became deaf.


Word Meaning
As for music Regarding music
Pours in Enters in
Tingles Vibrates, Shivers
Fingertips Ends of fingers

I can listen to the music through every part of my body. It vibrates my body, my cheekbones and also my hair. When she plays the xylophone, she can feel the sound of music through tips of her fingers.


Word Meaning
Leaning against Resting, Taking support of
Resonance Vibration

By taking support of drums, she can feel vibrations through her body. While playing drums, she sits on a wooden platform without wearing shoes. So vibrations of drums and music enter into her body through her bare feet.


Word Meaning
Not surprisingly Expectedly, Happens as expected
Delighted Became very happy
Presented Awarded
Prestigious Reputed
Soloist One who performs alone

As expected audiences were very happy to listen to her performances. In 1991, she was awarded the reputed award of the Soloist of the Year. This was awarded by Royal Philharmonic Society.


Word Meaning
Master Great, Highly skilled, Leading
Extraordinary Exceptional, Special
Far more More my great amount or degree

The great percussionist James Blades says that God has taken away the ability of hearing from her. But God has given her some special powers. What we hear, she can feel much more clearly and powerfully. This is the reason her musical compositions are so beautiful.


Word Meaning
Confess Accept, Admit
Workaholic One who works a lot
Rewards Benefits
Enormous Huge, Very large

Evelyn accepted that she is a person who like to work a lot. I need to work harder than any other classical musicians. But the benefits of working hard are huge.


Word Meaning
Apart from In addition to
Regular Normal
Concert Musical show
Shining inspiration Great motivator

In addition to her normal musical shows, she does many shows in prisons and hospitals without charging any fees. She gives lot of preference to teaching young musicians. Ann Richlin is a member of Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children. He has said that Evelyn is a great motivator to deaf children. They have started believing that they can achieve anything.


Word Meaning
Accomplished Achieved
Demonstrated Established
Very moving Very impressive

Evelyn Glennie has already achieved more than people of double her age achieve. Because of her efforts, percussion instruments have become important part of an orchestra. She has established that these instruments can be played very impressively.


Word Meaning
Inspiration Motivation
Handicapped Physically disabled, Physically challanged
Not the least Especially, Particularly, Moreover

She is a great motivator to those who are physically challenged. They look at her say that if she can do it, they can also do it. Moreover, her music has given lot of happiness to millions of people.



Part II

The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan



Word Meaning
Banned Stopped, Prohibited, Barred
Shrill Sharp
Unpleasant Not liked, Uncomfortable, Hateful, Ugly
Generic name Name given to a group
Reeded Musical instrument played by blowing air

Emperor Aurangzeb was a ruler in India. He had ordered that a musical instrument Pungi was not to be played in his royal palace. This was done because he did not like its sharp sound. Later the group of all musical instruments played by blowing air into it was called Pungi.


Word Meaning
Revived Renewed, Stimulated
Access Entry, Approach
Tonal quality Quality of sound

Nobody had imagined that one day Pungi would be renewed into another form. A barber of a family of  musicians had the permission to go into the royal palace. He decided to improve the quality of sound of Pungi.


Word Meaning
Stem Thin branch of a tree
Soft Of low volume, Not shrill
Melodious Musical, Pleasant

He selected a long stem of a tree that was hollow. It was longer and broader than the pipe of Pungi. He made seven holes in the pipe. Then he played it by blowing air into it. He closed and opened holes of the pipe with his fingers while blowing air. The sound produced was low, musical and pleasant.


Word Meaning
Royalty Members of royal family
Shah King

He played the instrument for the members of the royal family. Everyone liked it. The instrument was quite different from Pungi. So people wanted to give a new name to it. This was first played in front of the Shah meaning the king. It was first played by a nai meaning barber. So it was named ‘shehnai’.


Word Meaning
Auspicious Lucky, Good omen,
Indispensable Essential
Component Part

The sound of shehnai is regarded as a good omen. Therefore it is played in temples. It is essentially played during wedding in North India.


Word Meaning
Traditional According to customs
Ensemble Group
Till recently Till short time ago
Stage Level

During old times, shehnai was included in the customary group of nine musical instruments played in courts of kings. Till short time ago, it was played only in temples and during weddings. Ustad Bismillah Khan brought this instrument upto the level of classical music.


Word Meaning
Gilli danda A folk sport
Estate Kingdom

When Bismillah Khan was five year old, he used live in the kingdom of Domraon in Bihar. He used to play ‘gilli-danda’ near a pond in his village. He used to go to the nearby temple to sing ‘Chaita’ in Bhojpuri language. After end of ‘Chaita’ the king used to give him a laddu of 1.25 kg weight. He considered it as reward for singing in the temple.


Word Meaning
Has travelled far Has grown a lot

This used to happen about 80 years ago. The small boy of that time later grew as a person and as a musician. He was awarded the highest award a civilian can earn in India – Bharat Ratna.


Word Meaning
Well known Famous
shehnainawaz A person who plays shehnai
Paternal Relative of father
Ancestors People of earlier generation, Forefather

He was born on 21 March, 1916. He belongs to a famous family of musicians of Bihar. His grand father Rasool Bux Khan used to play shehnai in the court of king of Bhojpur. His father Paigambar Bux, and other relatives of his father were also good shehnai players.


Word Meaning
Took to music Started learning music
Maternal uncle Brother of mother
Fascinated Highly impressed, Strongly interested

Bismillaha Khan started learning music when he was a child. When he was of three years age, his mother had taken him to his uncle’s house. His uncle used to live in Benaras ( It is now called Varanasi). Bismillah Khan very interestingly watched his uncle playing shehnai.


Word Meaning
Employed In the job
Captivated Fascinated, Engrossed, Absorbed

Very soon Bismillah started going to Vishnu temple with his uncle Ali Bux. His uncle had the job of playing shehnai at the temple. Ali Bux used to play shehnai for many hours at the temple. Bismillaha used to listen to it with full attention for many hours till the end.


Word Meaning
Getting lessons Getting taught
For years to come For many years of future
Apprentice Trainee
Haunts Visiting place, Place frequently visited
Solitude Being alone

Gradually Bismillah started receiving education for playing shehnai. He used to practice during the full day. For many years the young boy used to frequently go to the temples of Balaji and Mangala Maiya on the banks of Ganga. These were his favourite visiting places. He used to practice there alone.


Word Meaning
Inspired Motivated
Invent Discover, Find something new

The water flowing in the river Ganga was a motivation for him to improve himself. He started playing many new raagas on shehnai. Earlier it was thought that these could not be played on shehnai.


Word Meaning
Recital Performance
Patted the back Appreciated, Lightly struck the back with hand
You shall make it You shall be successful

When Bismillaha was 14, he went with his uncle to participate at the Allahabad Music Conference. After his performance, Ustad Faiyaz Khan came to Bismillah, he appreciated the performance of Bismillah. Ustad Faiyaz advised Bismillah to work hard and blessed him that he would be successful.


Word Meaning
Big break Big opportunity

All India Radio opened its branch in Lucknow in 1938. It was a big opportunity for Bismillah. Very soon he started performing very often on radio.


Word Meaning
Greet Welcome
Poured his heart Exhibited lot of efforts and enthusiasm

India gained freedom on 15th Aug 1947. Bismillah was the first person to play shenai to welcome this event. He exhibited lot of efforts and enthusiasm while playing Raag Kafi from Red Fort. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was also one of the audiences. Later Nehru gave his famous speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’ from Red Fort.


Word Meaning
Taken in Impressed
Souvenirs Mementos, Memorabilia
Maestro Highly skillful, Genius, Expert

Bismillah Khan has given many performances in India and abroad which are always remembered. For his first visit outside India, he had gone to Afghanistan. The King Zahir Shah was so impressed by the genius of Bismillah that he gave him many valuable Persian carpets and other mementos.


Word Meaning
Fascinated Highly impressed

The King of Afghanistan was not only one who was impressed by shehnai played by Bismillah. Film director Vijay Bhatt listened to Bismillah at a festival. He was very impressed. He made a movie by the name of ‘Gunj Uthi Shehnai’.


Word Meaning
Composition Creation,
Turned out Became
Nationwide Throughout the nation
Chartbuster Very popular

The film was successful. Bismillah Khan gave music to one of the songs of the film – ‘Dil ka khilona …’. This song became very popular throughout the country.


Word Meaning
Despite In spite of
Celluloid world Film industry
Venture Journey, Progress
Come to terms Accept condition or situation
Glamour Glitter, Charm,
Emphasis Insistence, Intensity

In spite of this grand success, journey of Bismillah Khan in the film music was for only two films. One film was Vijay Bhatt’s Gunj Uthi Shehnai and the other was Vikram Srinivas’s Kannada film, Sanadhi Apanna. Bismillah Khan could not accept the glitter and unnatural world of film industry.

Word Meaning
Thick and fast Quickly and in large numbers

Very soon Bismillah Khan started getting large number of awards. He was the first Indian to perform at the reputed Lincoln Centre Hall in USA.


Word Meaning
Took part Participated
Exposition A large exhibition

He participated in several exhibitions, fairs and concerts like Montreal, Cannes and Osaka. He was very famous at international level. An auditorium in Tehran (a city in Iran) was named after him.


He was awarded prestigious national awards like Padmashri, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan.


Word Meaning
Coveted Of very high order, Greatly desired by many
Glinting Shining, Sparkling

In 2001, he was given the highest award for civilian – Bharat Ratna. With shine in his eyes and the award on his chest, with rare happiness he said that now all would advise their children to learn music. Music is the tradition of India. Even people of West are coming to India to learn music.


Word Meaning
Fondly Lovingly, With affection
Exceedingly Highly
Fond of Likes

With affection, Bismillah Khan is called Kahnsaab. Although he has visited many places in the world, he likes Benaras and Dumraon most. For him these are the most beautiful towns of the world.


Word Meaning
Recreate Make again
Replicating Copying

Once, a student his requested him to come to USA and become head of a shehnai teaching school. The student promised that he will make the atmosphere of Benaras there. He will copy the temples of Benars in that institute. Khansaab asked him if would be able to bring River Ganga also.


Word Meaning
Yearning Strong desire, Craving, Urge
Mattha A place of worship

Later he said that because of this reason, whenever I am in foreign country, I get the strong desire to go back to Hindustan. This is remembered by many. He further said that when he is in Mumbai, he thinks of holy Ganga. And when he is in Benaras he thinks of ‘mattha’ of Dumraon.


Shekhar Gupta had asked him a question. After partition did you and your family think of shifting to Pakistan.


Word Meaning
God forbid God please forgive me

Bismillaha Khan had replied that he would never leave Benaras. I went to Pakistan only once. I crossed the border only to say to the world that I have been to Pakistan. I remained in Pakistan area for about one hour. From there, I said ‘namaskar’ to people of Pakistan and ‘salaam alaikum’ to people of India. I came back to India. He laughed a lot.

(Readers’ Digest, October 2005)


Word Meaning
Rich Having lot of variety, Strong
Heritage Tradition, History, Custom
Devout Pious, Sincere,

His life is a perfect example of strong cultural traditions of India. With any additional efforts or objections, the Indian culture  accepts and allows a pious Muslim to play shehnia at Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Word Meaning
Passed away Died
Prolonged Of long duration
Mourning Sorrow

Ustad Bismillah Khan died on 21st Aug 2006. At that time he was ninety. He was ill for a long time. He was given state honour during his funeral. The Indian Government had declared one day national mourning.





[translated from the Tamil by A.K. Ramanujan]


Word Meaning
Softly Gently
Scatter Throw here and there, Spread
Poetic Devices
Wind, come softly. Personification
Don’t break the shutters of the windows. Repetition
Don’t throw down the books on the shelf. Alliteration
Don’t throw down the books on the shelf. Repetition
look what you did — you threw them Repetition

The poet is requesting wind to blow gently. He asks wind not to break shutters of windows and not to spread papers. He requests not to throw books that are kept on the shelf. But all are thrown by the force of wind. So poet complains to wind that why it has thrown everything on the ground.

The poet has equated wind with difficulties or adversities of life. We always pray that difficulties should not disturb our life. Our assets should remain intact. Our physical ability should remain intact. But sometimes adversities may cause some damage.


Word Meaning
Poking fun Making fun of
Weaklings Weak people or things
Poetic Devices
You tore the pages of the books. Repetition
You’re very clever Personification

The poet complains that wind has torn pages of the books. Wind has again brought rains. Wind is very clever in making fun of weak things.

When adversities cause damage, we get into the mode of complaining. We start blaming others. We could  even go to the extent of begging not to trouble weak people.


Word Meaning
Frail Weak
Crumbling Breaking
Rafter Main support of a sloping roof
Winnows Blows, To separate grain from chaff through wind
Poetic Devices
crumbling is used many times Repetition
Wind god winnows Personification

Weak houses are breaking, week doors are breaking, weak rafters are breaking, weak wood, weak bodies, weak lives and weak hearts are breaking. The wind is so strong that it can separate chaff from the grain.

In these lines poets has  repeatedly used the word ‘crumbling’ for the purpose of emphasis.

But the adversities seldom listen to our requests. They would come into our life. They would disturb or damage anything that is weak. Be it our house, our belongings, our health or our wealth. Therefore we need to be strong in every aspect of life.


Word Meaning
Steadfast Firm, Strong, Determined
Poetic Devices
He won’t do what you tell him. Alliteration
He won’t do what you tell him. Personification

The wind will not obey your orders. So let us build strong homes. Let us close our doors firmly so the wind cannot open it. Let us make our body strong. Let us be strong mentally. If we do these things, wind will be our friend. Meaning wind will not be able to cause any damage to us.

The adversities will not listen to our pleadings or requests. So let we ourselves become stronger. Let our house be stronger. We should be stronger physically and mentally. When we become strong, adversities cannot cause any damage to us. Then they start behaving in a friendly manner to us. Meaning that these will not be able to affect us anymore.


Word Meaning
Blows out Extinguishes, Put to an end
Roar and flourish Increase
Poetic Devices
He makes strong fires roar and flourish. Personification
His friendship is good. Personification
We praise him every day. Personification

If the fire is weak, wind will extinguishes it. If the fire is strong, it becomes stronger by wind. If one is strong, wind would be his friend. Then we would praise the wind every day.

A weak person gets negatively affected by adversities in life. It makes him weak. However a strong person derives advantage from prevailing conditions to make himself stronger. Therefore it is said that friendship with a strong person is advantageous. We would then praise such people when we ourselves are strong.


1 Comment

Siddhi · July 3, 2021 at 10:31 am

explanation is excellent but I would appreciate if you add the whole English syllabus of class 9th

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