In Washington , DC , at a Metro
Station, on a cold January morning in
2007, this man with a violin played six Bach
pieces for about 45 minutes. During that
time, approximately 2,000 people went through
the station, most of them on their way to work.
After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man
noticed that there was a musician playing.
He slowed his pace and stopped for a few
seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his
4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A
woman threw money in the hat and, without
stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to
him, then looked at his watch and started to
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged
him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to
look at the violinist again, but the mother
pushed hard and the child continued to walk,
turning his head the whole time. This
action was repeated by several other children,
but every parent - without exception - forced
their children to move on quickly.
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped
and listened for a short while. About 20
gave money but continued to walk at their normal
pace. The man collected a total of $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No
one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.
No one knew this, but the violinist was
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
$200 each to sit and listen to him play the same
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing
incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was
organized by the Washington
Post as part of a social experiment
about perception, taste and people's
This experiment raised several
*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate
hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?