Is it really that important?

6 Feb

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 top 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 a 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?


Okay, Rabbit…  So what’s your point?

My point is this:  Slow the hell down and pay attention.  That’s your life you just missed.


6 Responses to “Is it really that important?”

  1. zendictive February 6, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    social experiment? when you love doing something it was a practice session where he got paid a little for it… great idea…

    once again your ‘like’ button has been missing (~_~)

  2. invadingnola February 6, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    I’ve seen this before and love the moral of this story.. so many people spend their lives zipping & zooming and miss so much.. what a great post for us all today.. a reminder to “stop, look & listen”

  3. lolamouse February 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I remember reading that article when it came out. I believe it-the subway in D.C. is a COLD place. No one smiles, talks, anything. When we were in London, the Tube was so different.

  4. Jo-Anne February 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Yes it is so hard for so many people to slow down rushing here and there all the time they miss out on a lot of lives joys………………………am I guilty of it yes I am why because I rarely go out and when I do it is with purpose and do not like to dilly dally

  5. Mynx February 7, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    I love stopping and listening to the buskers in the city. Just stopping and taking in the sights and smells and sounds.
    Even just walking down the street, you can see the most wonderful things if you open your eyes

  6. Absence of Alternatives February 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    I kept on asking myself would I have slowed down? Would I have been that mom that dragged her kid away? yes yes I would… Sometimes even when I really wanted to give the street musician a dollar, I felt so self-conscious about it that I couldn’t do it. “Look at that idiot!” I imagined people judging me. yes yes I know. i have issues. But what this video taught me, for the very least, is to be more generous towards the street performers if I find joy in their acts.

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