Picture the scene – a metro station on a cold January morning in Washington DC.
A man with a violin is busking. In total, he played six Bach pieces over a 45-minute period. During that time it was calculated that 2000 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
After three minutes went by a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on to get to his next appointment.
A minute later, the violinist received his first 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, presumably with a train to catch.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the child 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 quickly.
In the time 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. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater 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 a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The questions raised were these…in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Are we able to perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognise the talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion from this experience 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 then how many other things are we missing?
Here’s to your success!
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