On a cold January morning in 2007, at a Washington DC Metro Station, one of the greatest musicians in the world played six Bach pieces on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars for about an hour. One of the pieces he played is one of the most intricate pieces of music ever written (for more on this story, click here to read the Washington Post article).
While he played, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. About 4 minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At 6 minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At 10 minutes, a 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent without exception forced their children to move on quickly. Bell collected a total of $32 for music he played, but two nights before he played the same set of music to a sold out crowd in Boston each paying about $100/ seat. After 1 hour, he finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.
His incognito concert in DC was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. This experiment raised several questions one of which must be: 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 as we rush through life?