Thursday, January 08, 2009


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 thousand 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 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 theatre 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 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?

Click here to see one of my favorite Christmas presents and here to see a darling video of Jerzie and Daddy playing air hockey.


Darla said...

Man! This is a great post.

Cedar ... said...

I hope by this time in my life I have enough wisdom to do just that,..stop and smell the roses/coffee/whatever. I've always been accused of being "distractable" and I think that is a GOOD thing. Good post, Jean!

Heather said...

wow. what a great post. sure does make you stop and think about how fast we're moving through life.

playsdolls said...

we have so much going on in our lifes today that so many of us never stop and pay attention to the small things in life that could enhance our lifes so much.It would be nice if the world could just slow down and people pay more attention to the simole things going on around us.

I love your Christmas presents ,especially the picture of he tree and the fern leave,so beautiful.

Suzanne said...

Wow. What a touching and thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing that with us, Jean. the photo is beautiful and so sweet of your daughter to think of something that you would love. It really is gorgeous. I know that I don't "know" Jerzie, but I do know that I love that girl. She is adorable.

Kim@ForeverWherever said...

Geat post! My 10 year old son plays violin. Thanks for sharing!