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Would you have stopped?

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Author Topic: Would you have stopped?  (Read 422 times)
Fine Point
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rainmusic


« on: March 10, 2009, 03:41:32 am »

Violinist in the Metro

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.

He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.  Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.

He collected $32.

When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. 

No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?


Violinist in the Metro - Interesting Discoveries - Ego Dialogues
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 03:51:32 am by Fine Point » Report Spam   Logged

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. – Herbert Spencer
 

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Fine Point
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rainmusic


« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009, 03:51:16 am »

The original article and a few comments of mine:

Pearls Before Breakfast - washingtonpost.com

I loved the video segments and wonder if his feelings about something as foreign to him as being ignored will only serve to make him a better musician. 
Quote
With "Chaconne," the opening is filled with a building sense of awe. That kept him busy for a while. Eventually, though, he began to steal a sidelong glance.

"It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah . . ."

The word doesn't come easily.

". . . ignoring me."

Bell is laughing. It's at himself.

"At a music hall, I'll get upset if someone coughs or if someone's cellphone goes off. But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change." This is from a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

Before he began, Bell hadn't known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

"It wasn't exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies," he says. "I was stressing a little."

Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?

"When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."
Absolutely brilliant!!! 

Edna, the shoeshine lady:
Quote
Edna Souza is from Brazil. She's been shining shoes at L'Enfant Plaza for six years, and she's had her fill of street musicians there; when they play, she can't hear her customers, and that's bad for business. So she fights.

Souza points to the dividing line between the Metro property, at the top of the escalator, and the arcade, which is under control of the management company that runs the mall. Sometimes, Souza says, a musician will stand on the Metro side, sometimes on the mall side. Either way, she's got him. On her speed dial, she has phone numbers for both the mall cops and the Metro cops. The musicians seldom last long.

What about Joshua Bell?

He was too loud, too, Souza says. Then she looks down at her rag, sniffs. She hates to say anything positive about these damned musicians, but: "He was pretty good, that guy. It was the first time I didn't call the police."
big laugh



About children:
Quote
The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.


I like the final paragraph too.
Quote
Bell headed off on a concert tour of European capitals. But he is back in the States this week. He has to be. On Tuesday, he will be accepting the Avery Fisher prize, recognizing the Flop of L'Enfant Plaza as the best classical musician in America.
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There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. – Herbert Spencer
 
RWS
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009, 09:56:20 am »

I understand people are in a hurry.  I would have stopped at least for a little bit.  I love the violin, it sounds beautiful (if it's being played by someone who knows what they are doing).  I bet it was humbling for this very talented and well know musician to be ignored!
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Firecrotch
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2009, 10:24:22 am »

I used to sometimes watch the musicians performing in the subway stations of Toronto. It's pretty cool hearing the talent some of these musicians have.
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Rizzo
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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2009, 11:47:17 am »

Hannah Montana did that once.  She was out and about in NYC I think it was, and had left her purse or wallet or whatever at home/hotel. Anyways, she called her dad to bring her money, She wanted a cup of coffee, it was cold out. He told her no. She needed to learn responsibility. She could either walk back to the hotel, or do without... She stood outside of Starbucks singing for money. It took her over an hour to get enough money for a cup of coffee.

That was right after her concert ended demanding well over $100/per ticket.

She said no one recognized her, no one even stopped to look at her.

 lol sign

Amazing how little attention people pay to "street musicians" and "street people".


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