Thursday, March 8, 2012

True Story

Thanks for following, Elegia!

On rare occasions, Facebook crap pays off XD

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?



  1. Wow.. that's deep. It's so true. We live in a fast paced world. We miss out on so much. I'm gonna make an effort to stop and smell the roses more :)

    Love always,

  2. I wrote about this a while ago after seeing it on the news (you can find the video on YouTube). I never understood how people can walk past live music, especially if it's playing well and we legitimately have a few moments to spare :)

  3. Yeah, I never really got the big deal in this "experiment". It was in a subway station. What do we know about subway stations.... People are there to catch trains. Ta da! They take the train to other places they have to go, like work or school. A lot of people wear their MP3s so they would not even hear the music, and not all those there are into classical music. Hell, I bet there were some people who wished he'd knock it off, but were simply too polite to bother. Sure he plays to $100 a ticket sold out concert halls, how many of those people take the subway?

    In fact I bet if he had worn a sign about him being a world class musician he would get about as much recognition from these people. We make time for the things we find beauty in. But I would not stop my day for my favorite band. Buy tickets, yes. Arrange to see them yes. But I don't think in explaining why I am late for work to my boss "there was this guy playing the violin so beautifully" is gonna wash as an excuse.