Saturday, January 17, 2009

what are we missing?

The following post was not written by me, I recieved it in an email.
I believe it is worthwhile sharing.

From The Effective Club :

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 thousands 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 case 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?


kel said...


J. said...

"Pearls Before Breakfast," a Puliter prize winning article, is definitely worth reading.

bryn said...

gawd, thanks for making me cry!
this is very thought provoking, interesting, and true...
a great story indeed!

Bobbie Leigh said...

I agree with Bryn- that was a great story!

Anonymous said...

Like the saying goes..."Stop and smell the roses"

Is a great commentary on how hurried and overwhelmed we can be.

The other thing..$32 for 45 minutes work...thats $42.67 an hour! Buskers can make a good buck!

rachael said...

Yes Kelly, I remember when I lived in downtown Vancouver, back in the early 90s, I was already singing around town, but I didn't play a lot of guitar yet, so I was still building my set list.

Being a young musician living downtown, I was always broke. One day I seriously needed money just to eat, and so before a Hockey game, I took my 4 - 6 songs that I knew how play by myself, and busked outside the liquor store. I sang those same songs over and over again for about an hour an a half. LOL, I made $78.

Thanks for the comments all of you, I thought it was a great story, and yes, not written by me at all but it had an impact and I wanted to share!

C.S. Perry said...

An interesting story and an even more interesting social experiment. But, admittedly, people who ride the subway are not he same people who would spend $100 to hear Bach anyway.