A Study In Social Awareness

I read an article today put out by the Washington Post about an experiment they did in Washington DC that involved a $3.5 million violin, world renowned violinist Joshua Bell, and a metro station. The idea came about when Gene Weingarten, the story’s writer, saw a very talented individual playing keyboard in a subway station. He said the brilliant music was just being passed by unnoticed by passers by. He thought to himself “Yo Yo Ma himself would be passed by if he were sitting here”, when a bell went off, for what I would call one of the most interesting experiments in our current society.

The experiment took place in a metro station in our nation’s capital, Washington DC. World famous violinist Joshua Bell set up next to a trash can wearing jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a baseball cap. He pulled out his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin, put a few bucks in his case as bait, and began playing. Now, I’m no world-class classical player, but I do listen to classical music, and am familiar with most major pieces, and I would think that someone playing such magnificent music would attract some attention. I even listened to the recording of what he played that fateful day, and it was stunning. To think that one man, and one violin could make so many brilliant and rich sounds, is nothing short of amazing. But as the video shows, no one seemed to give half a second of thought to stopping and listening. How does a man who charges $1000 A MINUTE, not attract any attention in one of the busiest cities in the nation? My answer: pretense. How else would a man that sells out concert halls at well over $100 a seat, not get any attention on the street? Are we really at the point where we only put value on things that cost us money? I sure hope not. I know that I have stopped many a time to listen to the sax player on the street corner, or the flamenco group playing out front of the bookstore. I hope I’m not alone! -kenny

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