One of the very best true stories I have ever read - and such a lesson

This is a true story…

A man sat in 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 more than two thousand people went past him, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes after he started playing, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried by. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip - a woman threw the money in the hat without stopping and continued on her way. A few minutes later, a man leaned against the wall to listen to him, but then 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 was rushing him along, but the child stopped to look at the violinist. So the mother nudged the child forward and the child continued to walk - turning his head back 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 six people stopped and stayed for a while. About twenty 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, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seat price was $100.

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?

Mick Say


What a great Story - Good on Washington Post and Bruce King

The violin is my favorite instrument - I for sure would have noticed his brilliance - Would't I ? Mick


Georgina Lester


One of the very best true stories I have ever read - and such a

A great story and one that I have read elsewhere recently - it is a brilliant illustration of just how unaware we can be. People are not willing to be diverted from their original path - however humdrum or monotonous it may be. They feel safe sticking with what they know - better the devil and all that. Many of us have sheep like tendencies to stick with the crowd rather than stand out and be different. According to this video it is the first followers who seek out the lone 'nuts' who stand out from the crowd. Just one child every so often is not a consistent or strong enough presence to influence those others around them to perhaps consider that there is something incredible happening right in front of them. There is a need for a critical mass, a tipping point before something can be acknowledged. It is the blight of any sole traders, artists, musicians - you need attention to be able to make a living. I believe that we do develop a certain blindness too. Some people are determined that there are not enough exceptional things in their lives. Instead they see everything as grey. Joshua Bell probably just merged into the greyness of the metro station. I know that I would stop and listen. I have done so on many occasions when there is something magical happening. Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Life can offer up many fascinating surprises. I feel lucky that I have noticed such moments before in the knowledge that I probably have missed many others and there is yet so much more to explore. I know I will stop and listen again.


Liz Harwood


One of the very best true stories I have ever read - and such a

What a great story . . .


Danielle de Valera


One of the very best true stories I have ever read - and such a

Bruce, are you aware that Dave Newton (I think that's his name) put this up on 29 January at 9.36 a.m.? I thik it was called something like: How many things are you missing as you rush through life? l thought I was going bonkers for a moment when I read it here and couldn't find the comment I knew I'd written. It was on Dave's post. Enjoying your GSB book. Best, Danielle


RealSteveHolmes Fading away soon


One of the very best true stories I have ever read - and such a

Indeed, the lesson I see is that one must stay free in one's own mind to appreciate the world through your own sensibility without taking a damn bit of notice of what the media and the mass think. I try to live like that as much as possible. When I bought the first Velvet Underground LP in 1965 my friends, even the hippest ones, thought I's gone mad. Now it's mainstream and history. What is most wrong with social media is its tendency to draw formerly sensible people into a herd mentality, a great stream of lemmings charging towards oblivion on stale ideas, barely any sense of true values or real situations between the lot of them. It's a world of myths, every bit as much as primitive religions were.