I stumbled across this thought provoking story via JeffBridges.com (Random I know).

It’s 2007 and it’s a cold January morning at a Washington, DC Metro Station. A man with a violin has played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station most of which were on their way to work. After three minutes, a middle aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried to meet his schedule…

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman who threw her money in the hat and continued to walk without stopping.

6 minutes later:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him then looked at his watch and walked away.

10 minutes later:

A 3-year-old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The child stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother hurried him along as he continued to turn and look at the violinist. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move along quickly…

45 minutes later:

The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for any amount of time. About 20 people gave money but they continued to walk at their normal paces. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour later:

The violinist finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded. No recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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 around $100.

This is a true story – an experiment organized by the Washington Post. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.
The questions that were raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

On the flip side, if they had conducted this experiment differently and placed Joshua in a park on a weekend would people have stopped to listen then? Probably.
Things that make you go hmmm.


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