Monday, January 19, 2009

Deep Thoughts

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 a 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 without stopping and 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 the 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 averaged $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?

ETA: Click HERE for a link on the story.

Thanks, Ben!


Kristina P. said...

Too funny you posted this. I belong to this message board, and someone posted this story. Anyway, it didn't go very well. The person who posted it got all self-righteous and snotty, while many posters said that they don't like violin music. I think they missed the point.

The Payne-Rinne Family said...

I love this story. Thanks for the inspiration!

Judi said...

I've seen the video of this actual thing and it is amazing to see,
I hope I would be one that stopped and listened!!

Melissa said...

K, totally one of the best stories I have heard in a long time. LOVE it!! Can I copy and paste for a YW talk I have to give tonight?

Kristine said...

I read about this. So interesting. I hope I would stop and listen. :)

MiaKatia said...

I can say I probably would not have stopped to listen. I am one to get caught up in the need to be somewhere or doing something productive. I often have to remind myself that a hug from my kiddos is way more precious than having dinner on the table at a certain time. So I appreciate the reminder to stop and count our blessings and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

Suzie said...

I like to think I would have stopped and savored but I just don't know.
Love this story. and your above post was great. I really didn't catch the spirit of the day.
Perhaps it was due to 31 stinker second graders. Way good deep thoughts.

Shawn said...

I have to say that I would have stopped and listened---as I have done on numerous times when in the Boston subway and there are good harmonies going on or great music. But then again, I am one of those people that stop the car by the side of the road if there is a great sunset that I need to look at...

...and I point all of it out to my son---so there will be a future of art appreciaters.

Thanks for this great reminder...

L. said...

Just read your three last posts. All of them were very inspiring and touching, and heart-breaking, as well. Thanks for the daily lift. I don't think you always have to be funny.

Misty said...

I had heard about this! It makes you wonder if you'd take the time to stop for a moment. I hope I would.

Christie said...

I got this email the other day and considered pisting it myself. I loved it, and its so true. I know I'm so busy most of the time that I probably wouldn't have stopped.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he should have handed out free food or something or played in his skivvies. Maybe then more people would have listened. It sounds just like something that would happen. I might have stopped to listen, but if he's doing it in public and I am only carrying plastic, can I ask if he takes credit cards? Where do I swipe it?

Anonymous said...

I admit, I didn't go to the actual story until after I commented. Since most of the people there were governmental workers, does that mean for every dollar they donated our taxes would go up by $30,000? Maybe it's a good thing no one else stopped and threw in some change.