Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

  • Mood:

What are we missing?

This popped up on the Cybermind list. *chuckle* If it had been me, I probably would've stopped to listen. I like violin well enough, but I love busking in general; any good player will usually get me to stop for a song or two unless I'm really rushed. But Doug is always with me, and he's an avid fan of classical music. He'd stop for sure. And both of us tend to throw money in the hat.



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 thousand of 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 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 best
musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever
written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

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

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station
was organized by the Washington Post as part of an 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?
Tags: music
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