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 and his performance lasted about 45 minutes. During all 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 to meet his schedule.
Then, maybe a minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip from a woman who threw the money in his violin case and, without stopping or looking at the musician, 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 tried to rush him, but the boy stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. Something interesting is that, every single time a child walked by the musician, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent rushed the kid away.
Some time later, a lady stopped and gave the musician a long hard look before walking on. It turns out that she didn’t even notice the music. She were trying to figure out what he was doing there, how does this work for him, can he make much money, would it be better to start with some money in the case, or for it to be empty, so people feel sorry for him? She was analyzing it financially.
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 best 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 his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and 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 an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The themes were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: How 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 or take the time the time 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?
Want to be really innovative? Notice what's going on right in front of you and appreciate it.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.