A Social Experiment.

Very rarely do I feel like passing on one of the many email forwards. But this ones a true incident and was published in Washington Post in Jan 2007(Must Read).

“In Washington DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about four 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 schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.At ten minutes, a three-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. At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously.

Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour:
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 Joshua Bell, 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 $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

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 priorities. The outlines of this experiment where: 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 of the apparent conclusions from this experience was:

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?”


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~ by Pooja Shean on December 22, 2011.

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