Thursday, December 30, 2010

PERCEPTION - Something To Think About ...

In a Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007, a man stopped, took out a violin, and played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: 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 all the time.... This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: 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.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

This is a true story. No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, using a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The following questions were raised: *In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? *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? .............. [submitted by a friend]


  1. Think the old saying stop and take time to smell the roses fits this somewhat.We all are in to much of a hurry to go nowhere ,slow down and enjoy the surroundings they are really something to behold.

  2. I understand this experiment, but why not do something like this in a busy public park, shopping mall, etc.? People that are at a place like Metro Station have to get somewhere and have to make a scheduled train. More folks probably would have stopped to listen, but in place like that they will tend to "rush & ignore" because of the nature of the venue.
    I'm all for stoping and smeeling the roses, and do whenever I can, but if I'm in a busy train station with a connection to make, I'm going to keep walking matter who the artist may be. (and yes, I am familiar with who Joshua Bell is)

  3. This may be the most throught-provoking post ever found on Darke Journal and particularly significant on New Year's Eve when we take stock of where we have been and where we are going.

  4. Excellent article!!! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Mall or transit station, small venue or online, it does not matter ... the result is the same. Talent and value are judged by celebrity status and what other people think most of the time.

  6. Had it been Charlie Daniels, the subway station would probably have become so congested, the riot police would have been called in.

  7. regardless of location, age, appearance, people in today's society lose sight of the beautiful familiarities that life gives to us and the sheer willingness to take 5 minutes out of your day to reflect...great artcile DJ!


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