# of divers

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A remarkable urban behavioral experiment - repost by The Effective Club

A bit of inspiration for your Wednesday'isms...

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 for about 45 minutes. During 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.

just another fiddler on the metro

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip. A woman threw the money in the till and without stopping 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 three year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

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 that day with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before this subway performance, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston.
The seats averaged $100.00 a piece.


Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were:

In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?


Here's the reel if you wish to see how the experiment unfolded.


If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written and performed, how many other things could we be missing?

What a shame it would be to miss life when it is so close. Perhaps passing you by, or hiding just beneath your nose. There is so much to see and hear if we'll only turn our heads.

What beautiful things are you missing?

Find and indulge in beauty everywhere.

The cardinal at your window, the sound of children playing in the playground, the rustle of wind in the trees, the bustling of an active city, a street musician, the silence between your heart beating.

Slow down...

Take time to stop to see and hear the beauty around you.



You can hear the music everwhere

In the wind…
in the air…
in the light...
it’s all around us
all you have to do is open yourself up
 all you have to do, is listen.
-August Rush

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