Violinist wants kids to have music in their lives
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Seven years ago, the well known violinist Joshua Bell performed for tips. He was in a Washington subway station. Almost no one stopped to listen.
The underground performance was an experiment. The Washington Post newspaper wanted to see if commuters would notice. After all, some of the world's great music was being played as they rushed to work.
It made for a good story. It even inspired a children's book.
Bell is 46 years old today. He's won major music awards, such as a Grammy. Now he wants to call attention to the need for music education in every school. He was lucky, he said, to have parents who encouraged him to play. Today, some students make it through school without any music or art education.
Bell will perform with young musicians he has mentored for an upcoming HBO special. It's titled, "Joshua Bell: A YoungArts MasterClass." It will air Oct. 14.
"Music is something that should be a part of everyone's life," he said.
Bell was scheduled to play at Washington's Union Station on Tuesday. He planned to perform works by composers Bach and Mendelssohn. The concert would be during the lunch hour on Capitol Hill. Bell was to be accompanied by nine young musicians he has helped coach.
Nearly every day for the past seven years, someone has reminded Bell of his first subway performance, he said.
"I wouldn't want to be defined by just that experience," Bell told The Associated Press. "Hopefully the rest of my body of work will carry more weight than that."
In the train station, Bell and his protgs won't be able to play for tips this time. Union Station doesn't allow it. But Bell said he does look at street musicians differently now.
"It's not really fun to be playing for people walking by," said Bell, who lives in New York City. "When I walk by, I always give something now because after my experience, I don't want to be the one who walks by and doesn't pay attention.
"I'm sometimes occasionally recognized by the street performers' and they say 'hey, thanks for that experiment because after that people are a little bit more aware of what we're doing here.'"