Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A social experiment worth remembering

This is an email that someone forwarded to me.  I always try my best to not be the kind of person who lets life's little pleasures and/or surprises pass them by.  Do you do the same?

A Violinist in the Metro - Something to Think About

A man stood in the lobby area of the 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, 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 continued to walk without stopping.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but then 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 pulled him along hurriedly, but the boy stopped to look at the violinist.  Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head back toward the violinist 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 actually stopped and stayed for a while.  Twenty-seven people gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace.  He collected about $32.  When he finished playing and silence took over, no o ne noticed.  No one applauded, nor was there any other recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written
and he played it with a violin worth $3.5 million.

Two days before this performance in the subway, Joshua Bell had sold out at Symphony Hall in Boston where the seat price averaged $100.

This is a true 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 banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?  Do we stop to appreciate it?  Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

1 comment:

Jon said...

Here's some more info about that e-mail:

(I usually check to see if forwarded e-mails are true or not!)