Within minutes of finishing my anti-music post, I wrote this one about a favorite music memory.
When I worked at PC World, I took public transit from the East Bay into San Francisco. It took just shy of one and a half hours each way.
Emerging from the BART station, there were often musical performers with their hats out.
For many of these performers, “musician’ would have been a generous term. As a rule (and we all know me and rules), I don’t give money to street artists – it’s not because of my frugal tendencies so much as I want to have a choice in what I listen to and therefore support.
One day as I climbed the huge staircase, I was struck by the most beautiful music I had ever heard: A single violinist was playing a classical piece. It made me stop and simply listen and enjoy. I desperately wanted to ask what the piece was, but I didn’t want to break the spell.
I was the only one who stopped to listen to the man. Many people dropped coins in his violin case, but it didn’t seem like any more than the usual amount.
I stayed as long as I possibly could without being late to work. As I left, I dropped $5 into his case.
For months afterwards, as the BART train doors opened, I hoped for the sounds of that violin. Alas, I never heard him again.
Years later I heard about some research studies where top musicians would pose as street performers in high traffic areas. The goal was to see if anyone would stop and acknowledge their talents. If you watch the YouTube video, you’ll see it is normally a small child or two that stop, only to be dragged off by a parent. I wonder if there is video footage of 22-year-old me standing mesmerized at a musician’s feet.
What I think is equally as amazing is the fact that I despised classical music at that point in my life. In junior high, I wrote a report about how boring it was! Not that day, though. That was magic.
Have you ever experienced a phenomenal musician working as a street performer? or Am I the only one who can remember topics of junior high reports?