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Care for another 'urban legend'? This was has been verified as true by a couple sources.

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 1,100 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, 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 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 most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where 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 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?

Thanks +Kyle Salewski providing the actual video link here:
Stop and Hear the Music

+Christine Jacinta Cabalo Points out that Joshua Bell has this story on his website:
Jean-François Suchard's profile photoQvaa khan's profile photoChris Abraham's profile photoAnasia S's profile photo
Why is this ancient post making rounds around the internet again, at least 6 months later?
Joshua Bell really is an amazing musician and person. I was fortunate to work with him years ago when he came to play with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Incredible experience.
Leo D
A great example why you should take nothing, and especially no-one, for granted.
+Keyan Mobli Cause it's a good post.
the time and date is irrelevant to the topic of the post.
this still applies to current time
Yes, and we realize what we have missed, it is always late...
Wow... and of course the children, who do not have schedules to keep or deadlines to meet can stop to enjoy the beauty.. we all need to be more childlike.
+Matt LaMar yes we need to have other people take care of our issues and not be responsible. Becoming children would be a step backwards
Dont worry +Matt LaMar because +Keyan Mobli Doesn't seem to be able to see any positives in this thread,
I dont know about everyone else, but My glass is half FULL
This was done as a social experiment by the Washington Post. Pretty amazing. Here is a video of it actually happening:

Stop and Hear the Music

The cool part is that a girl actually recognizes him at the end which isn't mentioned.
At that rate he was making $42.67 per hour... More than most of the people that passed him on their way to work.
t grey
6 months old? Probably closer to 6 years. Either way, this one is true and unfortunately says a lot about our current society. =\

+Kyle Salewski - It is mentioned, near the very bottom of the article. "Only seven people stopped to listen, and just one of them recognized the performer."
Is the point of this that the people passing him by didn't realise the true worth of the performance? I'm sorry but that's biased at best, and nonsense otherwise.

I could stand there and give you free computer advice worth hundreds of pounds, but I'd think it strange if you stopped to hear it. Time and place is important, +chris lustic
some people are so poor than the only thing they think and have is money ...
Cool but a very stupid social experiment. Of course people will not take the time to stop in a BUSY area where people pass through. If they had known who the person was, yes, the situation would be different. If it were located in, say, in the middle of the mall or plaza, it'd be different. Why would you conduct such a scenario that we already know what would happen? It wasn't an organized performance for people to formerly attend. This sort of performance is associated with a begger or someone of poor social standing playing to get money, not necessarily to show off their appreciation of music and to have people stop from their busy schedules to listen. The music was heard, without any doubt, but I still don't get the real necessity of such an experiment. I guess it had to be done at some point.
Double wow! Really makes you think...
You can't blame people for not stopping. Your employer is not going to care that you were late because you needed to stop to listen to a musician in the subway or if it's an appointment their not going to move things around just because you had to stop to listen to music. Life doesn't stop because someone is playing beautifully or creating art.
+Afraz Ahmadzadeh time and place is important indeed i never said it wasn't . I said it was irrelevant to the topic in this post,
not only old, but not even interesting. There are lots of talented musicians in the DC subways
if nobody stop to listen him, i think he play very bad :D
Wow, that really is pretty sad. Perhaps we seriously need to re-evaluate our priorities in life.
You need to have an ADHD to notice the violinist playing.
Adrian, I think you missed the whole point of the experiment! Because of where and when he played, everyone assumed he was a beggar, and payed no heed... not realizing that what they were hurriedly rushing past was a world class musician. Yes, if you told everyone who it was, they would have noticed. That is the point of the experiment: that since we are so busy with the hub-bub of ordinary life, people readily will skip over things that if they knew what it was would be worth lots of money or time to them. The point is: if you don't stop to notice the beautiful things around you, you may just miss out on something really special!
I bet I could teach Josh Bell how to get recognized in a subway :)
Its an interesting point to make but doesn't translate well with the scenario. If you don't like something, you won't think its beautiful or care that its masterfully done.
Funny that the same people rushing by, rushing their children, would be the same parents forcing them to sit still through the $100-seat performance. Is this an example of "If we pay it has value, and if it is free it does not"?
+Adrian Nef and if they had put them on the highway during rush hour they wouldn't of even gotten the 7 guys to stop, instead of money he would have probably gotten empty coffee cups thrown at him.
I have had the wonderful experience in hearing Joshua Bell in Charleston, SC quite a few times. I do not know how even the most tone deaf, musical less person could not hear the genius they were listening hearing.
The only reason he packs out an auditorium is because the RICH can afford the tickets, like to hobknob with each other, and like to have an excuse to buy/show off a new gown. THAT'S the reality!
Was he playing a Stradivarious violin? A friend's customer owns two who has musicians flown in to play them & give them an opportunity to use them. My wife wanted to hold one so bad as a musician herself.
+t grey I understand it is mentioned on snopes, just not in this post. Not everyone clicks on the full article. The posts that are going around clearly state that "when he finished playing... no one knew who he was... nor was there any recognition" So I just wanted to point it out. That's all.
wow... $32 in 45 minutes? he made more than I do at my job,... now where's my violin?
+Sheldon Appleyard Absolutely true. And we really have no way of knowing what was in the minds of the passer-by's, so as you said, even if they may have thought to themselves, "Wow, he's really good", they still may have had no time to stop.
I take this on a wider scale tho, not a statement of the individuals passing, but as a statement on the society which has placed such a need for rushed behavior on the shoulders of your average human. In a world obsessed with instant gratification, most individuals can't afford the time to relax and appreciate something beautiful.
With the need to have everything done "A.S.A.P.", comes what I believe to be, unnecessary complication. Life isn't about how much you accomplish in a day, but how much you actually live in the meantime.
Yeah... awesome post, the same as most of people didnt stop to hear to Joshua Bell's music, most of people will not take a minute to read this post... thats a shame cause this make you take a minute to think and breath a little of this stressed world we live in...
Wow regular every day joe's didn't recognize the fine music? Maybe no one stopped because they would rather listen to Nickelback's new album on their ipods.
It would have had a much better impact if the test group were made up of people who were supposed to be educated in fine music only to dismiss it as street urchin trash.
Steve, you maybe right in some cases but not most. I have to save to hear artist of this caliber but it's worth it. I am not a musician myself but God gave me the gift of listening and appreciating those sacrifice so much to give us the experience of sharing their gifts.
Context and presentation are a large part of the perception of could serve a prime cut of steak from Ruths Chris on a paper plate at a rescue mission and the "value" of the experience would be reduced by the context and presentation.
+Steve Tharp the reason he packs out an auditorium
is because he is a talented young man who has earned
an audience that enjoys his music. ,

dont try to take anything away from this young man
$100 a seat? I dont know if you have ever been to any
other kind of musical event, but thats not that much really

You simply cannot make a statement like that acting
Like you speak for all the people attending his performances
as if they all agree with your opinion and you have this as fact written in stone.
thats called ignorance, and THAT"S REALITY
Thank you so much. Having lived/studied in Europe, I often stopped to listen to street musicians. Many people actually do. I wonder how different it would be if this experiment were done there.
People are often taught in status and education systems that such things are less important. People desire creative and artistic expression. We make efforts to read books, go to movies, plant gardens, cook delicious dishes, enjoy music, climb mountains, sail oceans, seek sources of entertainment and desire to experience. Spending time and money more on the desires of the world than most other things of the world.
To understand each other, to understand our selves, and reach for all that is beyond the stars.
i would have stopped and listened to him play. i am someone that really appreciates the musical arts and i think that Joshua Bell is a great at what he does and that people should take time to appreciated the music in the world. like i said if i was there i would have stopped and listen even if it meant i would be late to where ever i was going.
The reason why people didn't stay and enjoy the music is because unless they are told it is the best music from a virtuoso on a 3.5 million instrument, they don't appreciate it. Same thing is true with wine - Freakonomics did a trick on some Harvard faculty, and without fail, they all thought they enjoyed more expensive wine, even when they were served cheap wine and told it was expensive and served expensive wine and told it was cheap. bottom line - music and wine snobs only like what they like because it is expensive, elite, status conveying, etc.
It's almost as if people are too busy with "life" to stop and enjoy it now.. in that moment! Great article!
seen this before on internet. true story. very telling, indeed.
people had trains to catch,, they should have done it in a park if they wanted more people to "stop" and listen, I wouldn't have stopped either, if I am at the station its because I need to be somewhere, dumb experiment IMO.
I'm sorry but not many beggars play violins, let alone nice ones. Meaning that most probably noticed something different, just didn't have time to do anything about it The issue is that by becoming more childlike +Matt LaMar implies giving up other time/responsibilities. Schedules are important and people with responsibilities have them was my point.
It just goes to show kids really do pay more attention when something amazing is happen right in front of them and the rest of us walk around with blinders on. I hope I would have stopped to take in the music but most likely I would have been one of the many people who missed out just to get to the place most us don't like going to anyway, work.
In a rush to make that next buck. Working life away. Sad and pathetic.
funny how people think they have the absolute reasons or answers for why people do things isn't it?

i guess people forget everyone is different and there are
unlimited variations on why people might stop. or not.
maybe they are upset. late for work. its there birthday.

it doesn't always have to do with money.
money definitely does present that something is of fine
quality because other have chosen to spend there hard earned money on it, but this can be a slippery slope argument about how things are advertised these days aswell.

the answer is. you dont have the answer as of to why
every one of these people stopped or didnt.
you can only have plausible loose leaf theories,
on the best reasons why people could or would
not stop, the variables are too great in a public setting such as this. aswell as people seem to foget he is in a subway .

people have to catch the trains. people are there to travel
to go places at certain times, the subway has schedule

Variables. people.. please try and think about them
rather than trying to find ways to justify defending specific opinions
We are always too hurry doing something more meaningful or meaningless, who knows?
+Walker Wells It is social status that drives us most often to get our basic needs and other desires met.
The social animals do have that competitive spirit about them, and this even if pleasures in life is the deeper drive.
I understand the point of passing up beauty while being busy with daily life. But if most were to stop, there could be repercussions throughout daily life. If you make a habit for stoping for evey beautiful thing and delay on schedules, what kinda of career could you hope to hold?
Well said Sir.......A true depiction of Mended Nature of Us....................naturally we love Art but in these hectic times, i wonder if art get more precedence over money...........
It's nice to see it making the rounds again.
I have not yet taken time to read the 38 comments, except for the last one showing right now, however I would like to comment on the validity of this experiment, since that seems to be a realm of contention based on the post by +Lars Peterson . I do not think the experiment is valid. Obviously people were paying attention as they rushed by, lest there would not have been donations. People who are heading to work do not have time to stop and appreciate the beauty. These people had to catch their ride to work, if they missed it, they would be late. What kind of excuse is that to give your boss? I stopped to appreciate the beauty, is likely to get a poor reaction from the boss who expects you to arrive on time. The children do not have this concept of needing to be on time, so they are paying more attention. It takes me less than 10 minutes to drive to work, but if I stopped along the way to appreciate the beauty around me, I would be late, too many times of that and I get to enjoy the beauty of unemployment. Just look at all the times musicians have played at malls without advertisement. MOST people stop and enjoy it, some are still in a hurry and rush on, some simply do not appreciate the type of music, but there is a less hurried atmosphere because most of these people are not on a strict time-frame. Saying that people are too hurried in this day and age to appreciate the beauty, based on an experiment where the majority of the people have no choice is not a good evaluation of the facts. Ergo, this was not a valid experiment...just my opinion. :)
This is wonderful - not only do we not stop to smell the roses, we don't stop to listen to the music, either. Bravo Joshua Bell!
well even if i didn't know who it was i still would have stopped because i play classical music myself and i love to listen to people play instrument, most importatly if it was classical music.
the study shows that time and place matters.. bit if it was josh groban... then people would surely stay.
I would have recorded him and posted here on Google+
+chris lustic well said. And probably most of the people there don't really "get" classical music. Try having a pop star singing there and some of them will go nuts.
I've seen this before but it's still a great story. Makes ya think!
In a busy city you have to weak blinders in order to cope. Its not a tragedy, its just how people deal with large crowds. If you did this on a pedestrian street it would be a different result.
I don't know if I would have recognized someone playing a difficult classical piece. But I am sure out of the 1100 people that passed by someone should have recognized him and the piece he was playing.
put this on fb last week - over 50 people were touched, great story
Copy of something that was in Freakonomics?
The funny thing that music has relation but people see it differently no matter the relations. Beliefs and emotion go hand in hand with our experiences.
I love the violin! I would have stopped however I seldom carry cash, so sadly i would have probably not gave him any money. :(
+Josh Armour A Great Article Sir.................Keep up the good work........shows the nativity of us being very prominent in this materialistic world............
I remember seeing this a long time ago, but it's to be expected in a country where art is seen as strictly entertainment, and gets in the way of progress (instead of what it actually is).
i am surprised that no one had recognized him. i would think that people would because he had just had a sold out show so i am guess that a lot of people would have known who he was.
I think the first problem with our culture and why few people will notice something like this, is time. Time is owned by the organizations we work for (or our clients), not ourselves. We are also saturated with the needs of people, and we have to tune them out to get through the day. In many cases, if you help someone in a big city, instead of a thanks you get looks like "ok, now you're going to pitch something." If Joshua was lying on the floor and acting as if in pain, as many people would have helped, as stopped to listen to the music. That is how many have the time, not necessarily the will, to be human.
<puts on music nerd hat>

Sadly this isn't really anything new. The concept as we know it today of sitting and listening to music and appreciating both it and the performer for what they were is actually a relatively modern notion - it has its roots in operas and late 18th-century dance suites, but exploded into popularity during the Romantic period. Felix Mendelssohn is one of the main culprits, as he sparked a revival of interest in the music of Bach, Handel, and other earlier composers.

It tends to go back and forth; Kickstarter has shown that the patronage model is starting to come back, for one thing. Hopefully some interest will be sparked in the arts again so that people will start going and listening to music for music's sake. So much loveliness gets ignored now in favor of autotune.

</music nerd hat>
Joshua Bell is not just a musician. He is also a social scientist. Amazing!
Any sound can be turned into music. Ancient people used it in spiritual ways not just for entertainment.
I am usually the person who stops, listens, applauds and listens more ... and yes, I usually give money too. Although, I wouldn't have known who he was by sight, I would have been awed by his playing and would have asked him about it. That's me. I know this because I've done it many times at the Boston Metros. Just me, I guess.

But here is another thing.
I have noticed that in Boston T stations, people do stop and a circle usually gathers around the musician and listeners will take out the time to listen and even take the next train.

But, I think some of the judgement of this and other posts where I've seen this story posted before is not assessed fairly. I say that because of what I said about what I've seen in metros, as expressed above. Some reasons for the poor reaction has to do with the busy lives people lead. It's a much more complicated issue. True, we lead insular lives, but a lot of that has to do with how we conduct business and the expectations of the business environment. And then everything revolves around that. It's survival.

So, we then have to create a situation in which Joshua Bell comes back later to Symphony Hall in Boston and charge $100 for a ticket. But it is out of survival and this whole system that Joshua Bell has worked so hard to become as incredible as he is. It's survival.

And also self-serving ignorance ...
I have another possible conclusion... it means that marketing and creating hype build up value.
This is old, but still a good reminder.
Most of the buskers in my city have the good sense to locate themselves near the city centre, in a place where people can stop and listen, not a busy thorough-fair. There's a really good bluesman playing guitar regularly here and plenty of people stop and listen for as long as they can.
+Patrick Hernandez Not bad, it's actually normal. We've been conditioned to think of music as background noise in a lot of ways. It's a shame, but it is what it is. The wealthy in centuries past didn't pay all that much attention to their hired musicians when they held parties and balls, either, so it's not exactly a "sign of the times," it's just what happens when we're used to elevator tunes and street buskers. We don't think about the music for the music's sake.
so call me a jaded (I am) but what this story is saying is that people should stop what they are doing and listen to some strange guy playing music somewhere? let us just say that I was one of the people in that subway on the way to work. I'm a Paramedic and I work in an ICU. So that day i'm on the way to the ambulance and I stop to listen to the music which puts me say just 30 mins late to work (all depending on the transit schedule) The person I'm relieving has no idea of the 'beauty' I'm listening to, has to get home to put is minor children on the bus to school (who are left home alone for normally just 10 mins at his change of shift, but if he stayed for me as much as 40 mins late) so now the ambulance station is unmanned for 30 mins, a call for serious injury from a MVA comes in while I’m enroute to the station, I miss the call and the person dies from bleeding and shock, but it is all worth it right? I stopped and listen to some social experiment, so it is all good right???
give me a break ..... context people context ... think of more than just yourself ...
This experiment shows that context is a necessary component of value. If you want to appreciate something with fresh eyes don't look for the thing itself; look at the surroundings and try to reframeed the experience.
+Jennifer Isaacs In this particular instance I'm talking about music that people consider "classical." :) I probably should have clarified that.
where i live if you are on the ground in pain no one would even look your way because no one wants to get involved or they couldn't care less about people. but if you go into the big city and you were in the same situation everyone would be helping or at least calling 911 for you. so its the same with music if it was in my community no one would pay attention but if you played music in the big city you would get a lot of attention.
Stopping to listen to music, even good music, just isn't more important than getting to work on-time. If people knew who he was, some would stop, not because of the music, but because its a famous person and people like to associate with famous people. If Oprah stopped to listen to the music, people would stop because of Oprah, not because of the music.

If a bum who played better than Joshua Bell played in a theater, no one would pay a penny to hear him play.
You can't indict people becuase they didn't stop to listen to some guy busking in the subway. I myself would have tossed a dollar in the case on my way past. Context is important. Most people aren't classical music fans. And 32 dollars for 45 minutes of work isn't bad!
+Jonathan Newmuis got it right in my opinion. This really just proves that the classical music in today's society has really taken a downturn in popularity. Most people can admit, I would think, when you hear jazz or classical.. usually you tune it out due to it's usage in background noise everywhere you go. The showmanship and flash has become more important than the sound and skill level sadly.
Erm... people are going somewhere and need to get there and musicians are always playing in subway stations. I listen to many talented musicians in Chicago subways all the time. Sometimes I give money and sometimes I do not. In fact, I have Imagine by John Lennon stuck in my head right now because I heard it in the subway. I didn't give the guy money though or stand in front of him. I listened in my spot. I think this is a weird experiment that doesn't really prove appreciation. It just proves that a lot of people don't know who Joshua Bell is. I'd fall in that category myself.
I find that some of the best music I have ever hear being played is on the underground and in the streets by buskers, it is a shame that the time they are playing is when you are being paid to be somewhere else!!
everybody is deaf, by their hurry...everybody is blind by their cicle of live, born, grow up and die...that's so sad be a shadow in the time.
Saw it on the news, amazing how no one cares to stop to listen to him!
You could have Einstein explaining relativity, Marx criticizing capitalism, or Shakespeare reciting a play -- people are NOT going to care because they're on their way to work or a meeting or something. The inattention of the public, when they are en route to a destination, is not a fair assessment of public taste or awareness of greatness.

A stripper with a pole would have garnered a more attentive response or a banker handing out $100 bills might have been more noticed and appreciated. But Bach on violin? Nope.
Wow this is amazing. It really makes you wonder how many little, wonderful things we overlook or under appreciate in a given day or week. 
its upsetting that no one appreciate music anymore. people are all about the black eye peas, LMFAO, or rap. i think that sometime in the future even if its in 20 years or 200 years that classical music will go extincted because teens don't like classical music and they just like the pop, rap, and hip hop.
This is a WTF. Time and place are a factor, I agree. But one important factor that is overlooked here is the audience. Now, if the exact same audience from that concert walked by this guy in a metro station without noticing him, then yes - I would agree with most that say that we should be ashamed, blah, blah, blah. Most people don't go to those concerts, and most people don't know names that show in those circles, and most people will never recognize that violinist. As a matter of fact, I'd be surprised if even a single (yes, one) person from that concert audience walked by him that day. Therefore, his social experiment was a waste of time, as it does not show a true human nature. What he maybe should have done is play on the parking lot in front of the theater where he will perform, just before the concert, disguised, and see how allegedly-sophisticated people, on the way to see his concert, recognize his work. He should even stage security chasing him off. I think most people would treat him as homeless. Now, that'd be a shame, really.
@Emeson Garcia, if we were not constrained by time-space paths, we would be gods. I don't think it is necessarily sad, it is an opportunity to make our paths creative, aware, and evolving. What is rare, is precious.
thats crazy now i'll pay attention more often :)
Or is the point:
Without a PR machine telling us that what we are hearing is valuable we sheep just think that he is just another busker trying to get by?
My Funny Valentine
I think they would have better luck with people heading home from work instead of too work... no one wants to be late for work, even if there is an amazing violinist playing.
And in another 20 years pop, rap, and hip-hop will be similarly extinct. Music is in many ways an expression of culture, and as culture changes, so will music. Besides, what are you considering, "classical music"? Have no contemporary composers written anything worth listening to?
The inattention of the public due to time constraints and personal responsibilities? Fair point. What I'm saying is that we as a society do have the privilege to hear music without really listening to it, or thinking about what goes into the performance.
we can be so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to stop and appreciate the finer things in life. This is a good lesson to remind us to "stop and smell the roses".
If your that blind to the world, go kill yourself.
Awesome story! Living in the moment... is what we should practice. We are too darn busy to actually "Live" our lives. :(
That's an interesting experiment - BTW. congrats Josh on making it to "Hot on G+" !
$32 in 45 minutes? That isn't bad at all! How many of the people here make $24 an hour? ($70,080 a year salary).
Awesome! There's awesomeness everywhere!
How does this qualify as an urban legend?
A great man once said: We think too much and feel too little.
Surely a park or even a street corner would have been a better location for such an experiment. People at a bus/train station really do have to be somewhere at an exact time, or their day will be ruined. If you've got minutes to catch your train, you're not thinking "Golly I could really use some performance art right now".
Strange, I seem to be missing the "expand comment" button from my feed...
Why do people look so much into things? 98% of the people who you think are too busy don't even care about that type of music. They aren't too busy, they're just not interested. They wouldn't stop to listen if they were walking past an outdoor concert when they knew it was Joshua performing. As for the kids, they would stop to listen to any person in a random spot playing any kind of music. Joshua could have been banging on pots and the kids would have been intrigued.
People stop and smell the roses and listens to great music or life will rush by you
+Brandon Zeone II Most people are like that for almost every thing that exists. Only once and a while if it really effects them, and usually after the event do they care.
He was recognized by one lady at the end of the video you can see her standing and watching him then she approaches him and says she was his concert.
Has the experiment been done in other countries?
Great story and a fascinating experiment, but coming up on 4 years old.
Greatness doesn't impose upon people simply whenever "Greatness wants to impose." How about if I play a harmonica really well outside the clinic/school when Josh Bell is late to pick up his kids?
OMG maybe i saw Eminem in the bus
I actually heard the NPR interview with the violinist last year. It was a social experiment to settle a bet. If I remember correctly the bet was about if people would notice the difference between an average street musician and someone at the top of their musical field.
We have all at one time or another taken life for granted, we get caught up in the routine, we do forget to stop, and we do miss many beautiful things. Everyone who reads this will be a little more aware for a few days until something takes us away again. I find it interesting that the children who have not yet been fully programed by adults were the ones noticing and responding to the man and the music.
Thats how it is today... and we continue to live like it is normal!
I wonder what the outcome would be in other parts of the country or the world.
683 considered it worth sharing so far ,but 6 STOPPED in real life for appreciating the sense of sound there any name for this dilemma ...
Angel A
I don't understand why some of these comments are ppl who clearly didn't read the full article, or didn't verify it. There's a youtube video and snopes verified it as true with full details. Irony, we sometime miss beautiful things everyday with our busy lives, and for some they missed it yet again by glancing at this and not reading the full story (yet they found time to post a comment). I am only saying "some", many of the comments were thoughtful and good.
It's been featured in several books: The Invisible Gorilla and Slights of Mind, to name a couple
A commenter on my share of this pointed out that another interpretation is that the difference between good and great musicians isn't as great as we're led to believe.
So he made $32 in 45 minutes? Well if he did that for 8 hours a day with a 15 minute break every hour. Monday to Friday, he'd be taking home $5120 per month before tax. That's a salary of $61440 over 12 months before tax. I'd call that a living wage. Why do we need copyrighted music?
First, what is it?
Second, 995 +1s? thats a lot!
Yes, I agree, what else are we missing in our day to day rush, the possibilities could be endless.
Greatness, beauty, talent or any other such perceived medium is utterly relative and subject to the circumstance and knowledge of the beholder. People might walk past and think:"oh this is really nice" but due to the nature of their current situation their current target is to move from A to B, which takes precedence in this example, hence their presence in a metro station. Imagine you just ate so much food that if you had one more bite you would throw up, you would find it hard to stop and eat more, no matter how fantastic the dish that followed. There are many other factors that tie into perception.

The children being the least pre-occupied or concerned by other tasks took the most time to sample the performance. So the hypothesis is as follows: We only have that much room to perceive and to process and when we're running on full we often don't have the space to accommodate for more. Some people more so than others of course. And then let's not even go into the domain of trend and brand recognition, that is, as they say, a totally different ball-game: the similarity being recognition.

Think about the following and compare: would you care for an iPhone if it had no flash logo, a dull brown colour, no branding even on the OS and said DING DONG PHONE? Most people would not. True greatness in any form will initially only be recognized by equals, those capable of seeing it in the first place, hence: "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder" (or something like that ;)
I remember this being on the evening news of at least one major network many years ago.
awesome story but sad that so many didn't stop to "smell the flowers", we are so consumed in our own world and busy schedule yet it only takes a moment to consume the beauty we are surrounded by, I would like to think that I would have stopped, listened and applauded
The only thing this proves is that he´s not a street performer, not that we´re too "rushed" to not appreciate any good music.
Honestly, why would anybody that talented want to play crap! Seriously! If somebody actually sits down and listens to the intricacies of classical music, there is no comparison. There is a reason it has lasted centuries.
Can you play violin for eight hours a day? For long enough to earn a living wage before injuring yourself and ending your career?
I know many professional and amateur musicians who play in the streets or subway just so that they can play music as they please without constraint or restraint. Some of them say that the money the occasionally get is nice, but not the point.
This really shows how we have been socially programmed to be 'worker bees' and not much else. The proof of this is that the children, who haven't been programmed yet, did stop and take notice but were pulled along by their rushing parents. Thankfully though it also shows that not everyone is totally controlled by this social programming. At the end he was recognized by one woman, but only one out of how many thousands that walked by. So.... that's what... maybe 0.0001% ? Not a lot, but it is at least one candle left in all the darkness.
Right. How many more things are we missing? We're missing ourselves, Buddhas say that. :-)
Hoax? The Washington Post won a Feature Writing Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for that story.
What would happen if they did the same social experiment in a third world country where people with no available shoes live on trash heaps?
No time to listen to his whole Bach catalog
This should be a message in knowing your market, and not the "shame on us all!" crap the writer is trying to shove down our throats. Another piece that's missing - people in the Metro Station are usually in a hurry, on their way to somewhere. They aren't just wandering around looking for something to do. Add to the fact that classical music isn't exactly Top 40 - I know 1,000 people and I don't know anybody who pays to go see classical musical performances no matter how skilled the artist. This guy has a niche audience - good for him - but that doesn't make the rest of humanity somehow at fault for not "appreciating" what he does.
wow. Kind of cool, iguess depending on what you are looking at
Great post. Answer to your question, most of us are missing almost everything almost all of the time. I think though we can consider ourselves successful beings if we can at least some of the time be aware of some of that which would otherwise invisible around us.
Whew....I like this one and shared it yesterday. (Caused quite a stir)
It seems most think it's an issue with not stopping. It is merely an experiment to see where the priorities of people lie, no right or wrong just observation and understanding. Life is not always in terms of correct vs incorrect sooner we learn that there are multiple ways am various opinions that may work just as well I not better the better off humanity will be..... Ciao
only kids appreciate it..and they gonna do the same when they get older..
Awesome. How we all feel some things arr the non-essentials
And that just justified the obvious. To be appreciated you have to be in the right place and in the right time. Playing even beautiful music to ignorant people (who btw never heard of Chaconne and basically prefer Lady Gaga and such) will get you ignorance (and maybe $32 in change).

I like classic but I rather pay $100 and go to a theater than stay in a vestibule for a dollar
Will S
video is on youtube
Next time hang a Kandinsky in the subway and see how many would stop to look at it.
I'm doubting the social validity of a one off experience. I've seen buskers all over the world, in subways, on the streets, in airports and what is described here is like nothing I have ever witnessed. Just an example: I was in DC beginning of January and on a very bitter day, outside the Verizon Center, a group of young men played New Orleans style jazz. In the bitter cold, there were always 30-40 people stopping for a song, listening, and tipping. Then the next group of people would stop. This was also right by a Metro station. These young people were applauded, people were taking photos, laughing, smiling. That cold day was not unique at all to me.
Reminds me of the poem Leisure by W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Also, it's Joshua Bell. He's modestly respected in classical circles and has a modest career. Very few people outside classical circles / huge Joshua Bell fans would recognize him and in high traffic areas like DC or New York, people gotta get where they are going. They ain't gonna stop for a "street" musician even if he was on fire.
Love the story. Reminds me to stop and look at the beauty of our planet and appreciate both natural and man made creations.
+Alyssa Knoll Agreed, when I first posted it I didn't realize it was real, since then I have edited it to say that it has been verified as true. :)
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

first verse from Leisure by Henry Davies 1871 - 1940

see it, read it, live it

Although I think if he was playing a bit more up-beat music more people would have stopped by. Since it was a short area in the Subway station and he played a slow music most people didn't hear much to even stop for.
I listen to rap just cause i may not notice his briallant performance of what this guy is playng but this study makes him seem like a dick becase he csn make millions playing shows in front of people that care but insted he plays in a busy subway making it sound like were the asshole when we got lives other than this bitch play some dead guys music
Metro/subway/underground...whatever the name it has... is a place where most people either shut down or are in overload. Rush hour; hell on earth for most people who are focused on where they're going, never mind the trip to get there. Finally, it would be interesting to see the difference in response if the musician were just on the other side of the doors, outside where people are less focused on "getting out". All in all, interesting but not any great revelations here.
Have heard about this experiment in one of my Psychology classes. Crazy that NO ONE recognized him.
Shows you how we rush and is no fun that way...wish I could have been there to hear it. I would stop to listen.
Another possible conclusion from this experience could be: "99.99 % of people don't have enough musical training to actually recognize a great musical performance"
Jay 90
amazing !
true..... our society has to start appreciating the talent other people have..... dey only need seconds to congratulate a person...... i think dis is a nice example 2 show other people........ even kids has the mind...... y dunt others have???? tanx 4 posting......
Funny, but what it says to me is that people have busy lives and are willing to allocate time and $100 per seat so that they can enjoy the beauty they're missing in their busy lives.
Repeat the same experiment but instead of Joshua, put lets say Justin Bieber to do nothing. That's when you realize that society is wrong
That's not a valid experiment, as most people don't care about listening to violin music, let alone would pay $100 for it. Only a small fraction of society would want to attend one of his concerts, so the fact that most people ignored him in the station is not relevant - they do that every day.
woa language, & if you go to whats hot, look to the right there is a line & a circle, if you click on the circle & drag your mouse to the left some of the stuff will leave your G+ stream
The last job I worked for I tried to enjoy every minute of every day for what things I could find. A beautiful sky and friendly people. I could not stop what I was doing or I would get fired. I couldn't walk away to just enjoy any thing and every thing in uncomfortable moments. The responsibilities, and thinking about if I lost my job from not focusing loomed over my head.
There is reasons of such body language and demeanor may be deceiving to what people are really thinking passing by.
Cal vin
Sounds like it sucks to play in train stations...
@Dustin Jones "The people that pay $100 a ticket to see this man play are pretentious conformist buffoons that only attend to make themselves seem classy and refined and to attend some sort of happening that they can disingenuously rave about to their peers." Maybe they just like the guys music? 100 dollars for a ticket isn't that much.
I had the opportunity to meet Joshua Bell while I was in college - this was 20+ years ago - he performed at my school and I had workstudy in the theater, so actually got to work closely with him on stage set-up, etc. He was absolutely amazing then - and that was a time when I lacked the appreciation for him and his music. I was just a stupid college kid.......
Just depends on the time of day. +Cal vin
Work rush hours would be difficult to get a dime but there is a few by and by. also to think of competition for playing spots and money.
Pixar - One Man Band.flv
Interesting that a world class musician was playing in the subway, but I don't have a lot of appreciation for these "experiments" that are done while knowing full-well what the result will be. People in a subway are almost exclusively there because they actually need to be somewhere else 5 minutes ago. Of course not many people were able to hang out and listen. The experiment can't tell us how many people appreciated what they were hearing. They wouldn't do this experiment in a public park or some other place where people go to spend free time because they wouldn't get the result they wanted in order to write the article they wanted to write.
How the hell must the people know he is a world class muzo? Wrong place, wrong time!!!
Ch a
There is a time and place for everything. During rush hour when people have jobs to get to of course is not going to be the right time to appreciate beauty. Did they need an experiment to prove this?
I ask - Is it the time of day, or the pretentious notion that the violin and classical music are superior to what modern musicians are putting out.

I stop and listen to interesting music all the time, and mostly listen to music on my old click wheel iPod.

I would contend, if the music was that interesting, or intriguing, more would have at least stopped.

I also have classical music on my iPod, sandwiched between, Shai Linne, and Metallica, along side Judas Priest and George Strait, and though the music is enjoyable when it comes on and is interesting in its ebb and flow, i get no more enjoyment out of Bach, than I do out of Third Day.

Just my humble opinion, so please do not roast my flesh too much..
your argument is musician and best music ever written are purely human opinion!!!!!
"A thankful person is a happy person."
We should be thankful for all the wonders and beauty we gain in the world. Stop and smell the roses and coffee once and a while.
AMAZING!! This is a fascinating tale and one I've tried a few times myself with well known music or just being completely free in very rigid and mundane social locations and situations. It is rare but occasionally you meet people like yourself willing to drop everything to see the beauty in that particular moment.
DUDE THAT'S AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:: If he's playing in Union Station we'd mostly likely be missing our train.
Aris MV
That's from, like, 20 years ago
To me, this is more so a study on hype. People who are aware of the hype around who this guy is and what he is playing are willing to pay through the nose to hear it. But if you remove all the hype, most people aren't even willing to break their stride. It seems that the actual product isn't as beautiful as the critics would like for us to believe.
The presentation of the whole thing does make a difference. The same goes for all sorts of things like art, food, and businesses. People have great expectations for things and so do believe more often in this way of such expectations of presentation. +Beth Williams
I feel this experiment proved that not everyone enjoys violin music and aren't willing to pay for it and/or don't have the money to pay for it.
had he be in another place where most people are not in a rush like a park, he would definitely get noticed more.
What a garbage story / post.
Only on the internet is content evaluated first by its age.
I believe it too. if I show up late for work, I don't get paid. I might love the music but I have to block that out to get paid by "The Man". It sucks but that's life
So much truth here...hope I would have stopped...but doubt it...we must slow down or we risk missing too much
that is awesome!!! not surprising either if you've even been through a metro station or the BART here in the Bay
that's pretty cool!! I like to hear surprises like that...just have to pay attention in your surroundings sometimes..I swear we miss half of what we see...and hear.
u know so much about this man that i think it was u ...... just think about it people
Just because you're hit in the circles of high culture doesn't mean you will be a hit on the street. Every day streetperformers make money with all sorts of acts, song and dance. Apparently he wasn't good enough for this locations. Luckily he can make more money elsewhere.
"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." I don't think he is one of the best musicians and I don't think Bach is the best music ever written. I also don't find Classical music beautiful. To me this is a failed experiment because it makes all those assumptions. It's just biased.
Wow . . . gave up on reading comments after so many. I like classical music, but if I was walking through a subway station on my way to anywhere, I doubt I'd stop to listen either. I have heard of, but would not recognize Joshua if he came up and shook my hand. Appreciation of beautiful things have different priorities for different people. I will take the time to appreciate a thing I feel is high on my list of things to do. Some guy playing some music [even if it's my favorite tune] in a random place that happens to be on my way to a thing I have to do, isn't high on my list of priorities.

Perception of beauty plays a lot in why and what we do as people. For Joshua to say that folks are too busy to appreciate a thing because he [a million dollar player on a million dollar violin] does, is pretty arrogant in my opinion. 45 minutes in a busy train station isn't a broad enough slice of people to make any kind of assumption of the people as a whole. How this [however nice the man can play - I don't doubt his talent at all] can be seen as anything other than publicity is beyond me.
A very nice but meaningless message.
Takeaway: Grown folks got shit to do. Unless they have money.
yeah,sometime we are too hurry to missing our soul
I bought a bunch of his CDs after I read the original piece in the WaPo.
Amazing violinist.
Josh, your initial question, "Care for another 'urban legend'?", doesn't seem to fit with what you are sharing. This story was widely publicized, shortly after it took place, by those who organized the experiment. Hence, this news piece doesn't seem to fit the criteria of an 'urban legend'. Rather, it is a well known and true event.

It is unfortunate that life keeps so many of us too busy to take the time to pause and take note of much of what surrounds us every day. As Ken makes note, Joshua Bell's experience in the subway entry is not unlike that of many others, who offer their musical or other entertainment talents in this fashion every day.

Ken also makes another good point, not many listeners are fans of the style of music that Mr. Bell might have been offering that day. I'm certain that the pieces he was offering were magnificent works of music. However, musical tastes vary greatly among any given cross section of society. In this day and age, many can easily access exactly what they musically enjoy with a mere touch of a button, at any time of the day or night, through personal listening devices like mp3 players or cell phones, via a set of ear buds. The web has made it easy to satisfy your own personal music jones.

Therein lies the bias of the experiment. They made the assumption that beauty was best expressed in only one small fraction of the vast musical spectrum, the 'classical' music that Bell was presenting. Then, they make the mistaken conclusion that all those that did not recognize the beauty of this particular performer's presentation were ignoring musical beauty.

They also inject another bias in their experiment, their reference to the dollar worth of Bell's violin. The fact that Bell was playing an instrument valued so highly has nothing to do with the results. Yes, an instrument that is made well will respond better than one that is not. I've experienced this same result. However, I dare say that Bell would have received the same response had he been performing with just about any other violin. A great player can make even the poorest instrument sound as good as it can possibly can. The value of Bell's violin had little to do with the response he received.

The fact is, there's a lot of great entertainment, musical and non-musical, going on all around us during the course of any given moment. There are more online sites dedicated to presenting 'live' or archived forms of entertainment than can easily be counted. Those who enjoy such have ample access to them via personal devices that enable users to connect to what they enjoy via the web.

To some degree, that access has lessened the perceived value of 'live' entertainment. Why should passersby take the time to listen to someone who may sound as good as Bell, when they can access Bell's actual music that may be archived on the web, or downloaded on their mp3 player?

I've experienced the same disinterest by passersby as I've offered my musical talents on the street at our local farmers markets or casually at various festivals. I've also seen the same scene, of children craning their necks to catch view of me and what I was offering, while their parental counterparts whisked them along their busy way.

I know many street musicians. You could add up the dollar value of the instruments that each of them play and together it would not come close to equaling that of Bell's violin. Yet, most of the street performers that I know manage to receive a better response for their talents from passersby than Bell. Why? Because, there's a difference between being a great musical artist and being a great entertainer. Having an ability to do both is key to making your talents connect with people, in the busy public spaces where street performers share their talents.

My guitar of choice is a mechanically amplified resophonic. I made it myself from recycled junk that I found at garage sales and swap meets. It has a voice unlike that of any of the resophonic guitars that one can find available for sale commercially. In that regard, it's somewhat like Bell's high dollar violin. Both my guitar and Bell's violin didn't come from a factory or some music store. They were each hand crafted by an individual artist/maker. The difference in the way my reso guitar sounds is recognized by those who know resonator guitars as being unique, just as the difference between Bell's violin sounds from other violins.

Often, when I perform, I also share my fascination with bowing melodies on a hand saw. The novelty of this musical folk art is enough to cause many passersby to stop and stare in disbelief, as they listen to me play. Though I am considered one of the best sawplayers in the world and receive endless accolades regarding my ability, I believe it is the novelty aspect of the particular folk art, that I am making music with a hand saw, that attracts and holds the interest of the vast majority of viewers and listeners that pause to give ear to what I'm playing. I believe that most passersby would find as much satisfaction in watching any other saw player. It is the visual element of playing a hand saw that holds so much interest to viewers but if you can also play well, it's icing on the cake.

In this day and age, where high definition video cameras are so accessible to so many, it causes those visiting popular destinations as tourists to seek out unique imagery to carry away as memories of their travels. Therefore, offering unique imagery for the many hungry camera lenses being carried is a sure way to draw and hold the attention of those cameras carriers. It should be noted, there are a lot of violin players out there offering everything from the classics to hoedown fiddle tunes. There are, by comparison, far fewer folks willing to risk life and limb by bowing melodies on blades of razor sharp spring steel, betwixt quivering knees, with the pointy parts mere millimeters away from body parts both near and dear.

The persistence of this story's resurfacing again and again, since its initial release, causes me to believe that it is less about the experiment and more about developing a clever bit of publicity to draw attention to the artist. In that regard, it was a complete success.
+Reggie Miles I found out after I posted that it was true so I edited with the rest of the sentence "This was has been verified as true by a couple sources."

That is because people criticize when you start to edit a post too much after it has been shared a bunch. Clearly this is not an urban myth, at the end of the post I linked to the artists actual blog post.
I really believe I would have heard what and how it was being played and stopped dead in my tracks but I played violin in school as well as being raised with classical music playing every night so I know what really skilled playing is.
It just shows you how busy people are in a rush hour traffic!.

There is a time and place for everything. If this was a park he would have gathered a crowd.
when it is free people think it is not worth anything. the best things in life are free. :)
Yes, in this experiment, part of what is happening is that they are attempting to influence people to take the time to pause and listen in an area where folks are largely pressured to make travel connections that require precise timing. The amount of flex time that any given person might have included in their travel plans usually wouldn't include pausing to enjoy an impromptu performance along the way, no matter how good the artist and performance might be. When one is using public transportation, the priority is always the scheduling related to those various means of travel, to ensure one's timely arrival at their predetermined destination(s).

Shweta makes an excellent point. That attitude, that if something is free it is not worthy of our attention, stems partly from the music industry's manipulation of live entertainment. Sadly, it is a way of thinking that far too many have bought into.

People have been sharing entertainment with one another in public spaces for thousands of years. For much of that time, those involved in this endeavor offered their talents in exchange for donations. By contrast, the 'business' of capitalizing on this natural tendency that we possess to entertain one another has only been happening for a very brief period of time.

Again, the proliferation of entertainment, of all kinds, has also lessened the value of it. It's the law of supply and demand. The more of it there is to be had, the less value people will attach to it.

There is also a focus factor at play in this experiment. Place Bell on a stage, in some highfalutin theater, with a lot of bright lights and create loads specialty advertising to all those folks who have a particular interest in his musical leanings and you are bound to gather those interested in spending a night out on the town to enjoy his show of talent. However, if you take all of that extra focus away, the stage, the fancy theater, the bright lights, the special advertising, he is then in the challenging position of having to prove his abilities to those who are total strangers to his artistry. Without all of the added hoopla, it places him in a different playing field altogether, with different rules that need to be considered. Similarly, placing a long time street performer on stage in a fancy theater, with bright lights and loads of special advertising, would face different but equal challenges.

Learning to adapt to any new environment is key to not only surviving but thriving. Each and every environment in which we choose to explore with our endeavors is unique and requires its own level of understanding and preparation in order to maximize our potential for success within that environment. Adaptation is key to survival.
This just goes to show that violin music is overrated.
J'avais déjà lu cette histoire, mais beaucoup moins bien présentée.
Pour moi, elle prouve la surdité indécrotable de notre civilisation, si encessée par des politiques, eux-mêmes totalement sourds aux clameurs déchirantes de la grande majorité de ses membres.

Ouvrons nos oreilles, et nos yeux sur tout ce qui nous entoure, et ne laissons pas passer quoi que ce soit d'important, même si ce n'est pas la Rose !
Pour moi, je me suis très souvent arrèté dans les couloirs du métro parisien, et ainsi découvert des artistes remarquables, comme cet accordéoniste qui jouait les grandes pièces d'Orgue de Bach, Préludes, Fugues et Tccatas, d'une façon absolument remarquable, ou ce groupe de Flutes Indiennes, dans le sous-sol de la Gare de Lyon, qui sont devenus de grandes vedettes parisiennes, quelques mois plus tard : j'ai toujours dans mes archives le CD que je leur ai acheté ce jour là.

Trompettes de la Renommée, vous êtes bien mal embouchées ... chantait si bien un de mes amis musicien, malheureusement disparu aujourd'hui, sans parler d'un autrei qui jouait de la Trompinette, dans les sous-sols de l'EDF ... et chantait si bien les dérives de nos anéées 50.

Jean-François Suchard
nice, but long time to get to point
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