Feb 18, 2012


I know I only post my photos on here, but I saw this on a friend's facebook page and thought it was pretty interesting. It is a few years old so maybe some of you have seen it. It is true according to Snopes.com.
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 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace, and 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 without stopping, and 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 3 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 most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written on a hand crafted 1713 Stradivarius violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real 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 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?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

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?


  1. Truly enjoyed reading this. Like listening to the music, we need to stop, look around, and really see. Photography really helps us do that. RE. your photos....Eh, that's not bad. LOL Really enjoyed what is here. I'll be back!

    1. Thanks Helene. What I realized though is the guy still averaged about $40 an hour. Not bad, but it would take a while to pay off a 3.5 million dollar violin.

  2. Interesting and thought provoking story. Thanks!

  3. oh way too many!!! if people would have known who he is..many would have stopped, of course, but then it wouldn't have been a true experiment,and it wouldn't have reflected the...ugly reality. And if they would repeat this experiment in other countries in Europe...I think it wouldn't be a bigger difference.. Reality hits us all back.. 90% of our time we are too busy to taste life..

  4. such a cool story. thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for deciding to follow my blog. I just signed up here too. And I love the picture of the church. So many gray skies now all over the country. It's a nice change. I remember this story from the time it happened and it certainly raises some interesting questions. I for one am happy to have retired in the mountains where I have all the time in the world to listen and watch.

  6. Good morning and thank you for following my blog! I'm joining yours as well since I'm curious as to where your photography journey takes you.

    Great story about the violin player... I guess not everyone likes violin music or more would have taken time out of their day to stop and really listen.