…what else are we missing?

September 3, 2009

This is the best true story being experimented.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning. A man with a violin plays six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people passed 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.

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 valued at $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the price of seats averaged $100.

This is a true 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 people’s priorities. The questions 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… what else are we missing?


Must Read & Watch: Pearls Before Breakfast

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13 Responses to “…what else are we missing?”

  1. londonlegallad Says:

    I think the problem could be that people need to get themselves into a certain state of mind to appreciate beauty – and at 8am on a weekday morning, people are in work mode, and their heads are probably too full of work related thoughts to notice much at all.

  2. day-dreamer Says:

    Yup. I’ve read about this.

  3. kat Says:

    Let’s look at it another way.

    People are willing to pay for something that is publicised as being the best. But do they really recognise the true value? Or are they influenced by what other people say? Are they blinded by the dazzling promise of prestige and good taste in hope that they would appear so by association?

    Like a diamond in the rough, how many people actually recognise its real value and are willing to pay a high price for it until it’s well polished and buffed by others for reason of profit?

    Shakespeare is considered to be one of the greatest writer ever to have lived, but how many people on the street actually understand what he wrote? Pollock considered one of the most influential abstract art painter, would anyone rave about his works if he weren’t so famous?

    Sometimes I wonder, how many people seen at art exhibitions and classical music concerts, are there because they want to appear classy and cultured?


  4. […] post: …what else are we missing? « Jemima's Journal This entry is filed under Washingtonpost. You can follow any responses to this entry through the […]


  5. Currently, the world is as such that we don’t stop much to smell the roses and enjoy life anymore. Thus a sad thing… I’m often called a crazy time-waster when I take time to enjoy the little things in life like watching nature.

    I’m gonna enjoy my weekend and hope you enjoy yours do, Jem! 😀


  6. […] Music as of September 4, 2009    Posted by admin on 09.4.09 0 comments …what else are we missing? – jemima.wordpress.com 09/03/2009 This is the best true story being experimented. Washington, […]

  7. waz Says:

    i’m missing on Jemima’s blog post!
    already 05/09/09 and it’s only now that i’m reading and commenting! 😦
    such is life, eh!?! we always in a rush…i wonder if we are in a rush for old age, retirement, and death!?! o.0

  8. angeles Says:

    humanoid is missing her blogging ability 😛

  9. tuti Says:

    people are too distracted, with work, worries, what nots. bell was sporting. and cute too, lol.

  10. Kenny Says:

    Hmm, good one. I read this some time back and my initial response was, Hey I could be one of them too! Have I no taste ar?

    Now, I know otherwise: To each their own. 🙂

  11. anjali* Says:

    If I was there, I think I would stop! I have always enjoyed buskers. I might in fact take a coupla shots and blog about it! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, babe!


  12. Hi Jemima, Kak Teh has tagged me to help create awareness and hopefully some much needed donations for Yvonne Foong. and I am tagging you too. Please visit my blog here for more information.

    I rarely do memes and it’s even rarer that I’d tag people, so please only do this if you want to. Zero obligation, ja? Thanks in advance.

    • jemima Says:

      Hi Kenny,

      I’ve made a personal donation sometime back. I’ve also asked my personal friends to help Yvonne, in anyway they can.
      Yvonne had personally written to me & thank me for my small gesture.
      I will try & find it so that I can post it on my blog.
      Will try my best to do it asap. You do know how much load I have to carry at present…


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