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Thought-provoking story:

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?
Micheal Edwards's profile photoJeff Klein's profile photodon h's profile photoMin Cho's profile photo
$32 in 45 min... I need to learn to play the violin!
don h
true true! we must WAKEUP, WAKE UP!!
As a result of this story, all the people that paid $100 for a ticket demanded a refund. This is a sad story.. the old expression.. stop and smell the roses.
Of course people aren't stopping, it's at a METRO STATION! People aren't there to "hang out". They're there to get somewhere else. It's not an abnormal or lamentable thing that people are trying to get somewhere and they didn't allot time in there schedule to stop and "smell the roses". Next time conduct the experiment in the park or city square where people go specifically to be at that place to stay and socialize, etc. and check the results.
If Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber happened to be singing that day, I'd bet plenty of people would have stopped to listen.
Good point. Changes my perspective on things
It's not, that people have time on the way to work or not, but the fact that attention lacks. The little luck is what life makes worth living. A Moment of attention or a smile....
If that will be Kirk Hammett from Metallica case will be completely different.... Don't you think so?
This is meaningless. In a busy subway station in an hour probably one or two person passed him who would actually buy a ticket to his concert. Maybe 10 who would recognized a music from Bach. In the same time probably there are 2-10 people who really loves the beauty of nature and can admire the beauty of a pigeon or some bug. A critter Joshua Bell would not notice even if he steps on one. There were probably hundreds who know,love and notice fashion way more than Mr. Bell.

But even if you know whats going on would you stop and listen and be late to pick up you son from the kindergarten?
a lot...take time to see around you...hostages of the clock....
That's why Dogbert said humans are stupid...
Was going to post exactly what +Kevin Watton said. How they drew any conclusions from such a biased experiment amazes me.
+Kevin Watton +Allex Jensen You don't understand the whole point of the experiment, though. It's like hanging up a Picasso outside a museum or an art gallery.

"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?"

People SHOULD be able to perceive beauty everywhere...and at all times. Not just when they plan to go to the park to "smell the roses". Even in such a place people SHOULD be able to take a few moments to enjoy it and people SHOULD appreciate it. Had they conducted this experiment in a park or a city suqare, it would have been completely pointless. In that case they just could've let him play on stage!
+Kevin Watton and +Allex Jensen - I think that was what the experiment was about- that people in stress (!) concentrate on their shedule and their work. Of course it would have had a different result in an environment where people relax or spend time to do so.
And from that experiment you can clearly see that children, who hasn't been injected with the typical stress of the average human, see that beauty in the music. I love classical music and Bach's pieces, but I have to admit that when I am in stress early morning I wouldn't have done else than the 1100 People passing him at that station.
This experiment doesn't say that those people passing had no interest or passion for music, but that they were focused on work and cant see anything else than it.
I am sure, if he had played in a commuter train (if it was not filled up) at the same time, he would have gotten lots of applause and much more interest- but that was not the sense of that experiment :-)
That´s the point: people excuse their blindness and ignorance with scheduling problems and urgency of making money - poor world of captalism.
+Jay Geissberger I would have to say that it isn't the stress but the setting. In a metro station you don't want to wait because you can't really afford to miss the train. Time is crucial and, in a metro station, you cannot afford to give it up even if you want to.

Why don't we have him play INSIDE a dirty public restroom? How many people do you think would stay to listen to him? Not many because its not an appropriate place or time to do that kind of thing. While that is somewhat an extreme example I hope you can see the point I'm trying to make. The kids will stop and listen because they don't have trains to catch and appointments to meet. Even if they do it's not like they really understand the importance of them.
Maybe he should have done it at a public park.
+Jan Lehnert The world is filled with beauty. You cannot just stop every time when something nice is around. No one can live a life like that. Those who made this experiment have a thing for music. But do they notice and ammonites fossil when they see one? No they don't because just like everybody else they are narrow minded enough to be capable of living a life.
This is interesting story I think. But I think he could gather lots of people if he played in a public park as others said. I may be in a hurry not to late for work though there is a president!
+Andrew Alvarez pretty sure its a New York Times story. You might want to check around. I read it a very long time ago and I think that's where I found it.
+Andrew Alvarez It's not "my" story. The experiment was organized by the Washington Post, so feel free :-)
If you put yourself in a position to listen or see art, you then concentrate on that moment. Your brain is then tuned for similar input. Example... After finishing walking through a gallery I see art in everything for the next hour or two. After a concert I hear every instrument and note of music on the radio. If I did hear this music in the subway, I probably would have enjoyed it on the approach and departure and even dropped a coin, but not likely have slowed or stopped.
Min Cho
If you're seeking creativity in your daily lives, you need to give more fairness to an object when the surface or context covers the real value in it.
Simply, the truth!
The importance of Time, when and where to show up, defines the value of Talent.
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