Introducing...Gillian Maitland, percussionist

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"I WENT to an Evelyn Glennie concert when I was 13, and it was the first time I'd seen the marimba being played. I thought, 'I've got to learn to play that instrument,'" says 18-year-old Gillian Maitland.

The marimba is an idiophone, a percussion instrument that is played by striking wooden bars with a mallet. It makes a distinctive, reverberating sound.

Maitland is one of this year's recipients of the prestigious Dewar Arts Awards, and she is using the prize money to pay for a four-year course at the Frost School of Music, at the University of Miami, which she started in the summer. The Brazilian composer Ney Rosauro is her tutor. "He's one of a kind," says Maitland.

Winning the Miami place was the highlight of an exceptional year for her, having recently been made an ambassador for her home region of Angus (although she's not sure what the honour involves), and in July performing for the wives of the G8 leaders at Glamis Castle. They were planting a sapling for Tree Aid, and the marimba, which originates from Africa, was well suited to the occasion.

Maitland plays with two mallets in each hand, and practises as often as possible. She admits to finding it almost hypnotic. "One day I hope to be a solo marimbist," she says. "The higher you aim, the higher you can go, so I always aim for the top."

Log on to the Dewar Arts Awards website ( for more details

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