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Thread: Joshua Bell - Perception (Violin at DC Metro)

  1. #1
    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Joshua Bell - Perception (Violin at DC Metro)

    Perception

    ...something to think about...


    Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

    4 minutes later:

    The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

    6 minutes:

    A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

    10 minutes:

    A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

    45 minutes:

    The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

    1 hour:

    He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

    No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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 Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

    This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

    One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?

    What does this say or mean to you? Comments?
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    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

  2. #2
    Andante
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    I assume it was the morning rush?? so if you had to be some place at a given time you would have to prioritise, and how many people enjoy classical? the figure that sticks in my mind is 10%. Even concert goers would probably not recognise him and certainly not expect to see him busking personally I would always have time for that treat and free to boot.

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    Senior Member purple99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kg4fxg View Post
    A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
    The moral of the story:

    (a) catch 'em young and

    (b) blame the parents.

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Who?

    I would have recongized him, but that is only because I am not more a tuned to violin and the younger players. I am not a fan of Joshua Bell, sorry, I prefer the many good females that are out there.

    Interesting commentary, for me I would bag work and stay and listen

    I tried to ride the rails to work for awhile, now I drive and park in the deck in the big city. Maybe it says something of the quality of the people who ride Mass Transit?

    Here in Atlanta most upper middle class drive to work in their Benz, and they can afford the Symphony tickets. Many on our Marta are pretty pathetic folks, too much panhandling for me. I am sure in DC it is different as it is much more efficient rail than here.

    Actually, there was a group here (Cello & Violin) that played at a Marta Station once, well until the Marta police ran them off.

    It would be a rare treat to encounter any violinist on the way to work.
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    I actually ride the DC Metro to work every day :P. Hearing a world-class violinist on my way to work would really be something.

    It's too bad that not many people stopped, but I'd say the fact that he accumulated $32 in 45 minutes is a testament to the fact that quite a few people recognized his skill and enjoyed his music.

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    Senior Member SenorTearduct's Avatar
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    That my friends, is tragedy. Pure without distortion, tragedy.
    “Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.”
    - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default .....sad state of affairs

    It is a shame people are in such of a hurry. With Blackberry in hand and earpiece they are busy talking to themselves.

    I wonder how many of the artists we all admire are recognized in public? Have you ever passed an artist or conductor on the street? Would many notice or even care?

    I have had the opportunity to meet members of our local Symphony and they were quite pleasant to chat with after the performance.
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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    Senior Member SenorTearduct's Avatar
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    I bet that was much fun indeed! But I do love that line "Talking to themselves" thats nice
    “Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.”
    - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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    The original story was a write-up by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post.
    It is an outstanding article, and well worth a read. This is the link for the story:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...040401721.html
    There's also a good question and answer session on the Post's website about the event.
    cheers,
    Graeme

  10. #10
    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Thanks - Graeme

    My Mother-in-law sent this in an email. Thanks for the link - amazing story.
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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