Sunday, September 6, 2009


Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes:A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes:A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
45 minutes:The musician played continuously.
Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour:He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
Findings:No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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 Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true 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 people's priorities. The questions raised: "In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?"
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?
By the way, the Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for a feature article for this story. It is true. Sad, but true.


Polar Bear Creations said...

Great post!
I heard about this story before and it didn't surprise me a bit that people didn't noticed.
I think we as parents have a responsibility to make our children aware of the world around us, to point out this and that and introduce them to different types of music,art and nature. My parents did that with us when we were kids. We didn't always got it or like it then, but it enriched our life as we got older.

I think our world would be a much nicer place if we all would pay more attention to our surroundings. The beautiful and not so beautiful. Awareness is the first step.....

Have a wonderful day!

demandablog said...

What an interesting story. It really shows how people are too self-involved and hurried to appreciate their surroundings. This has inspired me to slow down and look around. :)

Prettydreamer said...

Sara .. Oh my goodness ... what a striking story! Thank you for sharing this post ... I think the image of this scene will stay with me for a long time to come ... I will make sure to pass on the story too!

Shannon said...

What a thought-provoking story. I try every now and then to slow down and notice the moment I'm in, but I think I need to keep doing that more often.

Mare said...

It always mystifies me, when i see a beautiful rainbow, or a big blue heron perched near the water, or a gorgeous sunset or some other spectacular thing is right there...i stop and look around and think HOW can all of these people NOT see that!? They just stare ahead and keep on going...It sadly happens all the time...Thanks for posting this...

haddy2dogs said...

I love that story.
I am always amazed at what folks value. I got a pair of $400 shoes off a show I worked on. They were brand new in the box. The designer bought them and decided they were the wrong color. When I had a yard sale I got $3.00 for them.

Another time I sold a really ugly acrylic blanket that was a gift to the crew from the producers of the same show. I tossed it on Ebay and got $450. The value of the blanket out of context was about $10.

janet said...

Amazing! Proof that we all need to slow down and enjoy the beauty around matter what the time of day.