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Joshua Bell - Busker?


thom

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WOW.  

Thanks for the link.  I've had that same feeling playing at

wedding receptions.  Puts me also in mind of some job

interviews "sorry, you're overqualified!".  Wonder what the

response would have been if he had been doing Irish jigs?

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I'm reading the last book by Steinhardt, of the Guarneri Quartet, and when he say his mother, as a child, entered in wedding parties to listen to the violin is quite touching.

I remember also my grandmother memories about listening to music, those were rare and magic moments to her. What a difference. Everybody is jaded today, we've got numb.

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I think the story offers a very interesting look into the souls of ourselves and those around us. It begs the question, would you have stopped?

As a child, I always hated those long cross country trips the family took from time to time. Not because I was bored or carsick or cramped into a back seat until the fidgets set in, but because there was always something interesting we would miss. We wouldn't get very far down the road before I would want to stop and take a few minutes to walk through the indian museum, or actually get out of the car to See Ruby Falls. When we finally arrive at our destination, I would always feel that I'd missed the entire reason for travelling.

Now, when I take the annual vacation, if there's a "frontier flea market" or a "biggest ball of twine" along the way, I take the opportunity to get off the highway, stretch my legs and breathe it all in. It's taken me three days to drive from my home to the Alabama line before, but it was worth it.

This mindset also plays into my daily life. I've traded my daily commute for a nice 20 minute bike ride every day. I time my departure in the morning to give me an extra 30 minutes to get to work, just in case there's a flat tire, a beautiful sunrise, or Joshua Bell playing in one of the four parks I cut through. Just the other day, my boss remarked that I'm always the guy that shows up in a good mood, whistling and ready to go to work. He looks upon my ride as a chore that to him would be so tiring. I tell him that no matter what else may happen to me today, no matter what kind of crappy policy corporate might dream up to spoil our worklife, I've already had a fantastic bike ride, and am looking forward to the one in the afternoon.

So many people have eliminated happyness from their lives. We're moving from a race that no longer appreciates beauty to one that is no longer capable of appreciating beauty.

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Ah, but Krug, the REAL question is:

Let's say you are driving along on that vacation,  with only a

few precious minutes to spare.  You come to an intersection

(you're destination is straight ahead) and there are two signs. One

has a big arrow pointing right and says "Joshua Bell, free

performances all day!."  The other has a big arrow pointing

left and says "This way to World's biggest ball of twine!"

Which way would you turn?

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Krugwaffle, you're absolutely right. People often seem to have a knack for missing life itself. We are so caught in our routines and conventions that we can't seem to step out of them. There is something slightly eccentric in our day and age in the act of stopping to smell the roses. Yet those are the moments that count. A year ago I was stopped dead in my tracks by the whisp of violin playing. It took a bit to locate where it was coming from. I rounded the corner, and there was a fiddler sitting in the shelter of a big marble clad bank. There was such life in his playing, and a deep sonority in his bowing that made one think more of a classical musician. He was self-taught, yet there was a mastery and spontaneous fluidity .... well, you can see why I stopped.

I almost didn't, because stopping was a conspicuous thing to do. You "stood out from the crowd" by stopping. Not only did I stop. I sat down beside the fiddler. We chatted. He told me of his music and how he came to it. He once travelled through two continents sustained by his busking. He was hoping to learn how to read music one day, though he had a slight hang of it. He handed me his fiddle. How he could get any kind of sound out of that instrument, and such sonorous alive tones is a wonder. It was a cheap instrument that sounded like it was made out of cardboard, with a poor quality bow. But what he could do with that instrument with no training, a thumb that often hurt him because it was bent back and collapsed on the bow - this man was a musician through and through. Nor was he just fiddling away by inspiration. He formed each of his fiddle pieces as carefully as any classical musician. He told me of his hours of practising, getting intonation to perfection in difficult passages, playing with the fingering, planning his phrasing. Yet still - spontaneity. He took snatches of melodies out of the air and played them, transformed them. One, I believe, was the jingle in the Jeopardy game which caught his fancy, so in a jiff I heard the Jeopardy jingle in doublestop variation, the melody turned upside down and right side up, theme inside theme that was more reminiscent of the days of Bach, when people truly owned their music and were expected to be able to do such things.

I left with his music ringing in my ears, but more importantly the spirit and attitude. I learned something important though I could not say what it was. What if I had not stopped?

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My younger brother used to earn spending money in high school and college busking in a city park. He and a friend (both guitarists) would hang out and run through the tunes they knew. They did pretty well, but they also choose a park setting during weekends or after-school hours, where no one needed to be anywhere at a particular time.

How forgiving do you think Slatkin (or audiences) would be if Josh Bell was 20 minutes late for a performance because he stopped to listen to a busker?

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Good question, Erika!  I think the experiment may have been

more telling if it was conducted in the evening when people were

returning home from work, perhaps having more time.  However,

considering how so many walked by without even glancing in

Bell's direction, I wonder if the results would have been that much

different.

Krugwaffle, I like your attitude.  I am reminded of when I

took my sons hiking in the Redwoods several years back.  We

were surrounded by the beauty of the giant trees, ferns, and wild

rhododendrons in bloom, but a couple of the boys were just

interested in getting ahead of the others to be in front.  It

made me mindful of how we often live our lives in

general; trying to get ahead but missing out on so much.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Allan Speers

Ah, but Krug, the REAL question is:

Let's say you are driving along on that vacation,  with only a

few precious minutes to spare.

The problem is, why are you driving so close to the deadline? Why are we in such a dead run at all times to catch up? Are our lives so full that we truly have no slack time?

Going waaayyy off topic here but I think it relates. Traffic in my neck of the woods is getting bad. Doesn't effect me, I'm a bicyclist remember, but it adds a few extra minutes every year to every destination around me if I drive. I know this. I think most everybody knows this. But because they USED to drive to work in 14.3 minutes, that's how long they think it should take. No matter the conditions, no matter the time of the year, no matter the level of traffic, it should take 14.3 minutes to get to work. So that's how they tailor their departure times to give them exactly 14.3 minutes to get to work. If it takes more than that, it was the moron that was driving too slow in the left lane, or the idiot that cut them off at the parking lot, or the *%$@# traffic lights that need timing... So they develop certain habits to get them to work on time. Tailgating, overdriving the speedlimits, running stale yellow lights, etc. Once these habits are established, they work their way into everyday driving. When they're going to the mall, or picking up the kids at soccer practice, they're tailgating, swerving in and out of the passing lanes, running the last second of the yellow light and so on.

There's a little scenic route I like to take to connect from my house to the other side of town to do grocery shopping. It's all 25 or 30 mph the whole way. I'm sittin back with my bluegrass cd's playing and my cruise control set to the speed limit enjoying the scenery, sometimes wishing the ride was longer. Invariably, no sooner than I start my ride, one of these high pressure, not a minute to lose, already late CEO wannabees is on my rear bumper trying to find some way around my Expedition on the double yellow. For the whole 4 miles, he's back there, doing everything in his power to make me move just a little bit faster. He's taken this route before at 45-50mph and he knows it shouldn't take more time than it did before. He and I are the only two cars on the road, but he's stuck in a traffic jam and I'm taking a mini-vacation enjoying the scenery and listening to the tunes.

So, I guess the moral to the story is to not be stuck with the "only a moment to spare" options. There's a lot one can do to loosen up the string of events that make up our daily lives and give us the time to stop and smell the roses. We're quickly losing our humanity to a stoopid clock on the wall. Welcome to the hive

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I agree, certainly. It is sad to think that our culture has become the way it is. Everything we do is so important. I'd like to think that I would stop and listen. I don't know that I could pass it by. That Bach piece is one of my favorites. But I look back on all the concerts, events, that I've passed up in my life because I was too short of time or money. I don't know.

A fascinating study, and a good reminder for me to enjoy life as it happens.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Steve_W

OK, I get that most people were probably too rushed to stop and listen, but what amazes me is how few people even acknowledged Mr. Bell's presence! How many seconds does it take to slow down and make eye contact and nod or smile?

I don't know... it's not really normal in our culture to smile and make eye contact as a passerby, is it? Not unless you intent to stop and strike up a conversation.

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I hadn't bothered to read this thread, but glad I did now, and the article.

reminds me of an actual incident. A former mentor of mine

a professional businessman and professionally-trained player was seen another acquaintance and former colleague professional musician at a holiday resort busking on the sidwalk to the astonishment of the latter. To the inevitable "What on earth do you think you're you doing?" question

he simply replied, "You be surprised what I pick up here in a day!"

For those that haven't seen the French film tilted, "Le Violon" I suggest you get it some time

for the most heart-rending performance of the Chaconne (played by Gidon Cremer) in the sewers of Paris by a violinist who has descended into the depths of human despair - and yet the music sours and the audience of fellow-tortued human sufferes are uplifted.

I think this may be the one.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0383701/

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Guy,

Wish I could help - it's probably 10 - 15 years back since I hired a video in a shop in Australia.

A quick search has come up with no other reference as yet. Will keep looking for you. It is possible it was released under a different title in other countries......

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