It was around this time of year in 2007 when The Washington Post organized a grand social experiment—one definitely worth revisiting. See what happens in the 3-minute video below.
Here’s the recap: On a cold January morning, in a Washington DC metro station, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. While he played, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them probably on their way to work. Six adults stopped for a short while, one of them recognizing the violinist. Twenty-seven people gave him money (a total of $52.17). A number of small children seemed interested in stopping to listen, but parents tugged them along hurriedly.
Why is this significant? Because 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. Two days before, Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music. Yet in the metro, people walked past him at their normal pace. And no one applauded.
Some might argue that had it been a rock or pop star, with more celebrity status, more people would have recognized him and stopped. And sure, classical music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But here’s the important take-home message—if, on an average day, we don’t have at least 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, when we’re rushing through life or on autopilot?
How might you slow down a notch—and be aware—while you go about your routine, today?
Click here to read “Pearls before Breakfast,” the article that ran in The Washington Post following the experiment.