"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?"
Even more fascinating was that the same experiment was done 77 years earlier (the Snopes article) by a child prodigy named Jacques Gordon. Bell knew nothing of that earlier action so long before his own performance although he DID know of Gordon.
But both artists played two of the same pieces, both artists were recognized by exactly one spectator and amazingly both artists had once played the same violin. From 1991 through 2001 Bell played the same instrument that Gordon had played in the street performance in 1930. For 11 years, Bell's fingers held the same ancient wood.
A more likely conclusion would be that many of those people passing by would most likely have loved to stop and listen, but couldn't because they had to be somewhere more important to their lives at that time, like making sure they were not late for work. This story really doesn't say much about missing anything, but more along the lines of a poor choice of timing and location.
Had the location and timing been different in which people had the opportunity to stop and listen, they probably would have.
A part of you wonders if there really is a time and a place for everything, but then another part of you wonders how tight fisted our worlds have become if we don't allow small rays of light inside when they're offered free of charge.
I don't care if the best musician in the world in in the Metro. If I have to catch that train to get to work, to get paid, to pay the bills... I am not stopping. Commuting spaces are were I travel, not where I listen to music.
I don't see anything wrong with it. Is the assumption that listening to beautiful music should always be a trump experience everyone drops their job, mission and baby for? I don't see why. It is not in short supply. Nor is it even important to everyone. Beauty comes in many forms and not everyone cares for this variety.
I am sure this happens to me every day, right on my own home, right in my own backyard, everywhere and anywhere I am. There is so much beauty in the world. We may as well be blind. Blinded by me and I, and mine, and mine and mine and mine.......
If they're good, I do pause to appreciate it and give them a little something. Unfortunately, the calibre of street musician where I live is not very good, so I don't often have the opportunity.
There used to be bag lady around where I live who just played the same note on a recorder. She's not around any more though. Maybe a talent scout discovered her and she's living the sweet life of a pop star a la Justin Bieber.
So...this discussion was about how we often miss out on the beauty in our lives, every day, because we walk through the train stations of life and miss hearing violins playing something like Bach and seeing little ole ladies placing dollar bills into instrument cases because we are too busy going to work.
In this case, the little ole lady was Money Baggs C Note and it was Penn Station not Grand Central.
You are talking about the Mrs Baggs...I'm sorry...that would take some work wouldn't it...she probably had quite a tale to tell....and where did she go once she crashed her car? Life can be confusing.... no wonder she ended up on drugs...
What could one expect from the squirrels running up the treadmill? They just have to run faster in order to stay in the same place. All their life is spent chasing a mirage, just like greyhounds chase a fake hare on the track. Missing all the beauty on their way, they found an ugly gaping grave hole.
I think that there is something to be said for finding our niche in life and filling it to the best of our ability. Squirrels and greyhounds have their niche to fill and so do we. Running may be part of it for everyone. I am thankful for the years that I could run. I am thankful for those experiences and the thoughts that I had during those times. I can't do that anymore, so have had to find other niches to fill instead.
What you are striving for makes a difference. Striving for the sake of striving, even if you become the best at something, may just take you down a path that is away from your purpose. A bigger job may fill your ego but may not be what is the plan for your life. Maybe we need to strive to be OK as we are, with less, so that less really is more, especially where beauty is concerned.
I'm a musician and know the power and value of music. I'm curious what people find emotional in music (and looking for trends for a paper I'm going to write).It's very simple - post the name of a piece of music that...