Do you hear the music?
The original source of the article below is unknown. It has been broadly circulated because many originally thought it was a hoax, but it isn’t. It tells a true story that challenges us to think …
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
A minute later, the violinist received his first
dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and continued on without stopping.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against a wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and
started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
who paid the most attention was a three year old boy. His mother herded
him along, 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
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only six 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, Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the cost of a seat 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 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?
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?
(You can find the Washington Post story about this experiment here http://wapo.st/9V4hcX .)