The violin is not an instrument one would expect to come in contact with while on your morning walk to work. Now add a world renowned violinist playing against a wall next to a rubbish bin and you have the makings of an interesting social experiment. Surely, in a city as diverse and cultured as Washington D.C. it would not take long before Joshua Bell was noticed and crowd control would become an issue. At least, that's what those in charge of the experiment thought might happen.
One of my class assignments was to read the Washington Post article (By Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, April 8, 2007) about the Joshua Bell experiment and then write what I thought about it or what I learned. After reading the article I had to stop and rethink a few things.
Famed violinist Joshua Bell was asked to perform a few of his favorite pieces on the street, with his violin case open and coins scattered across the red velvet bottom. The point of this experiment was to see who would stop and listen if no one knew the qualifications of this man who was providing free entertainment to those unsuspecting pedestrians walking busily by.
I wondered if I had been walking by that day, would the sound of beautiful music being played by a master violinist, be enough to make me stop and listen or would I simply not stop because I would assume that this talent must be a fluke because of the stage he had chosen? I must admit I would most likely jump to the conclusion that this man was homeless or at the very least, not willing to work a real job, and therefore not be a trained musician and not worth my time. How very wrong I would I be.
After reading this article I had to admit I had a few things I needed to change. There are many things in life I may end up missing out on because I don’t stop to take a real look. Maybe I have looked but not really seen a great many things.
The day after reading about Joshua Bell and his New York City street performance, I walked in to school the next morning having decided I wanted to make a bigger effort to be more aware, more perceptive. I know I can easily jump to conclusions when I come across people or situations in my every day life. As determined as I was to be better, I only lasted about half the day before I fell back into familiar perceptions and became no better than those that passed by the master violinist.
When the girl standing next to me in the elevator wouldn’t stop talking about the shoes she just bought the night before at the mall, I “just knew” she had to have a little dog at home wearing a pink rhinestone outfit with matching pink booties on his feet. No girl like this could have a working, thinking brain cell right? A few moments later, when she walked into my classroom I figured she would be an airhead. Half an hour later I had no great desire to hear a word she had to say when she raised her hand to comment on the early renaissance works of art we had just viewed in a slide show. I had already concluded in my mind that she was a silly, air headed girl, but I was proved wrong. She had a brain in that pink, glitter wrapped head of hers and I ended up actually learning a bit from the points she made. I could not believe it. I had passed by the violinist and done so willingly. So much for my new determination to not judge.