A while ago there was a social experiment where Josua Bell, the violinist played at the L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION in Washington D.C.
The Washington Post said this: It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. ... No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.
So What happens? Do you stop and listen? Rush by, drop a dollar?
What if you knew this: A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston’s stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements.
Did that change your mind?
Here's what happened as reported from the Washington Post:
Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.
A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.
Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.
There was never a crowd, not even for a second.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- from “Leisure,” by W.H. Davies
What things do we miss in our hurry? Those a the station that day missed out on a free performance of a master musician, sharing some of the greatest classical works ever written, using a instrument worth nearly 4 million from the 18th century. An opportunity of a lifetime.
Diamond Rio recorded a song with Joshua Bell about this experience.
Taking the time to look around and see all the beauty that is ALWAYS there. The kids sleepy faces, a garden full of flowers, clouds rolling across the sky, laughter coming through the windows. It's always there, just take a moment to SEE.