Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Would you... Stop and Listen ?

To begin, I didn't stop and look up the validity of this story. I'm not sure that it's important to do. Just reading what was written made me stop and think... and probably change the way I look, listen and notice things around me.
The following is a true story. It was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people's priorities. The questions raised: "In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?"

Washington, DC 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 approx. 2 thousand people went 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… 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 this “experiment,” Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

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.... How many other things are we missing?

Would you have stopped and listened and applauded? Since I can't be in a hurry to go any where, this would have been a delightful rest stop for me. There will always be another train, another doctor's appointment, time for another lunch or dinner. You might NEVER have this opportunity again.


  1. It depends on where I was going. To work and running late? I'd keep on going. The music is beautiful, but before this post I had no idea who this person was. So it would have been lost on me. Just saying.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  2. I agree, stop and smell the flowers once in a while !

  3. wow, very interesting post! i'll have to think on this a bit.

    smiles, bee

  4. One of the joys I found in DC were the street musicians. Even when rushed on weekdays I made a point of giving them a couple of minutes. It was such a small thing in exchange for the pleasure they gave me.

    This one would have stopped me in my tracks for as long as he wanted to play unless I had a non refundable ticket.

  5. If I wasn't in a big hurry to go somewhere, I absolutely would have stopped to listen as there is nothing more beautiful than beautiful music.

    Interesting experiment, though, it does make you wonder you may be missing sometimes!

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  7. I translated the one of the blue links...(Chinese)

    瑜珈補習班 = Yoga classes

    Here's their site:




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