Violinist in the Metro

This is an incredibly sad story which gave me chills. It is a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

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 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.

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?





2 comments:

+Penthius+ said...

+Wow, I actually hev a tear in my eye, but hmm, it is true that if we rushes 2 much, we do miss out on life's most beautiful thg, n I hope that I wouldn't, but still, when we look left, we'll miss the things on the right, that's how it is...hopefully we learn 2 appreaciate evrythg that happens 2 pass us by...=)

Anonymous said...

I don't think this experiment really proved anything except that people in Metro stations are trying to get somewhere else, which is hardly surprising. If Joshua had played in a different kind of public space where people aren't in such a hurry, It's possible many would have stopped and listened.
People wouldn't go to the Metro station unless they were going somewhere. It's just not a good place to listen to live music. Consider a reverse senario: if a bus had driven in to the theatre during Joshua's concert in Boston, I doubt many members of the audience would have got on it!