20 July 2009

something to think about

This was e-mailed to me
Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He 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 mins 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 mins later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till 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, as 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. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

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.

1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. 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 Joshua Bell sold out 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 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:

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 ....

How many other things are we missing? The End.

Also, today is a new blogger's 2nd day. Her name is Amy. Her blog is No To The Deuce. She actually wondered if anyone would read her blog. If you get a chance, maybe stop by and tell her that someone, somewhere really does "give a hoot!" Thanks!


  1. Great post - thanks for the reminder, totally inspirational story. Off now to check out Amy...

  2. Interesting. And I'll check her out :)

  3. Well, now I'm crying. You are truly a beautiful person & I can't thank you enough. I will do my best to "play my violin" with the grace, generosity & talent that you have.

  4. Excellent message!
    Made me cry.

    but another conclusion ... he collected $32 for 45 minutes work. Had he just been "anybody" that's pretty good. I work an hour for that and don't enjoy my job nearly as much. :D

  5. Great point Anne! And Karen too! :-)

  6. Great post, Anne. We need to be present and really see and experience what's going on around us.

  7. I often wonder how many people would like to stop and listen (or smell the roses) but work doesn't let them. I was always rushed on my way to work, and I sure didn't want to get in trouble for being late. Personal responsibility over pleasure? It is sad indeed.

    On my way to check out Amy's blog. =)

  8. I had this email sent to me a while back. It is certainly a reminder to us all of what may be around us that we are missing. Thanks. I'm off to check out Amy's blog right now.

  9. Great post and really something to ponder. Even out of context, something like this should've been appreciated more. Must say I'm pretty guilty of just going about my business and shutting out all the noise - good or bad.

  10. Loved the video. Life is really all about perception. Loved Karen's perception too, by the way.

    If you haven't already, you ned to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's fasinating stuff! Anything that has written is good stuff.

  11. Yay, I don't know why I thought you didn't have a blog, you obviously do! And now I get to spend time reading it. :) Well not now now (at work) but soon!

  12. email me at octoberfae (at) gmail to get my new blog address. :)

  13. hmmm, i wonder if metallica or the dead kennedys or any band with a lead singer with pierced cheeks would have attracked more support? lol. kidding.

    amy, hi ya, coming over to see your blog! anneh is a supporter and an inspirer,er.

  14. Live in the moment!

    This just reinforces what I just read in Randy Pauch's The Last Lecture.

    You never know when you will again stumble across something again so you might as well enjoy it now before it is gone.

    So many opportunities missed, so many appointments kept.

    I hope I can teach my kids to aim for balance. Duty calls but that doesn't mean you can't find time to enjoy life & those around you.

    Thanks for sharing - very interesting!

  15. I have a feeling we all miss out on a lot ... especially in the big cities.

    Now that I don't live in one anymore, I like to think I do take more notice of the little things.

    Great sharing, Anne.

  16. That was an interesting experiment. My thoughts, though, are that if its not enough to catch average everyday people's interest, its probably not that great...and the people who paid for the tickets are paying for the name, not the talent.

  17. Hey anne?
    I'm going to see Loreena in Stratford tomorrow night!!! They are going to hold a ticket for me.
    Your Sunday music choices inspired me as i haven't listened to her in a while.

  18. Karen - How Cool Is That? I know you'll have fun!
    I took the player off - just playing with an idea, really. But I got into the HTML and changed it all up (all by myself) and made autostart optional. I might put it back on, just for chillaxing!

    Amy, you flatter me with words I can only hope to live up to! Thank you!

  19. I just got back from the airport where I did my own social experiment: I hummed loudly for one hour. People noticed, but I didn't make $32...

  20. Did you see the Director's Cut of the movie "Shallow Hal?"
    Gwyneth Paltrow had on the "fat suit" and went into a bar someplace. She was surprised when everyone ignored her!
    Kinda like what Joyce said...

  21. But Jack, you only recently taught yourself to hum! Wasn't that your reward for your first ten pounds loss?

  22. Anne,

    I've learned this lesson the hard way. As a dedicated streaker, I've suffered countless instances of disgust, laughter and thrown produce. Applause and appreciation are rare indeed :-)

  23. How sad is that? Why do we not have enough time to smell the roses? I feel sorriest for the children who, because they were rushed on, lost a valuable experience. What time-precious experience couldn't wait 5 minutes?


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