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Life, Business & finding the Father

What are we Missing?


Archian - Life, Bacolod, Architecture, Finances & Dubai

People draw all sorts of inspiring conclusions from it (and apparently it has brought some people to tears).

I think they are missing the point.  To me it just shows:

  1. Most people don’t care about classical music
  2. Many who do like the idea of it (dressing up, feeling sophisticated, saying smart things to their friends) perhaps more than the music itself

There are a lot of similarities to classical music and expensive wine.  Many people probably can’t tell the difference between a $100 and $20 bottle of wine, but they still like the idea of drinking a $100 bottle of wine – the main benefit of consuming it is not the wine itself.

Or in psychology terms, we overly rely on price as an indicator of quality.

Related note: A Snickers bar tastes better than 99% of See’s candy, is 1/10th the cost, and doesn’t require you to play Russian Roulette with your taste buds.

Washington, DC Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007.

The Man with a violin played Six Bach Pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After three 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.

Joshua Bell Performing on Metro Station

Joshua Bell Performing on Metro Station

Four Minutes Later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman thew in some money in the Hat and, without stopping, continued to Walk.

Six Minutes:
A three-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.

Forty-Five 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.

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the World. He played one of the most intricate pieces written, with a Violin worth $3.5 Million Dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $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 people’s priorities.

Joshua Bell and Violin

Joshua Bell and Violin

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?

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 on of the most beautiful instruments ever made….

Click to Watch Video in Youtube.


Author: Archian

An Architect, Blogger and Strategic Thinker

5 thoughts on “What are we Missing?

  1. “Or in psychology terms, we overly rely on price as an indicator of quality.”

    This is true Ian. We have this so-called belief that when’s it’s expensive, it must be good. Some comapany uses “status quo” pricing in order to maintain a stable level of profit.To the consumers it would mean a different thing.

  2. that picture you feature as “Joshua Bell Performing on Metro Station” is clearly not him, in the full article it says he was wearing a Nationals hat, that dude does not have a “W” on his hat. Also in the video it doesn’t have him standing between two rails, hes between one rail and an exit door. Maybe someone (the author of this thing) should read an article on honesty. Just because you find a picture of a person playing a violin doesn’t mean you can just claim its someone its not to make your thing better. PS another difference in the video and your “picture” of Bell, camo pants, really?

  3. I don’t think that first photo is actually of Joshua Bell, nor is it of the DC Metro (it looks like the NY subway). Not only does the violinist look very different, Bell performed in the stations themselves rather than at the platforms (as shown in the video). Where did you get the photo?

    • I’ll verify this and try to find an appropriate photo. I am really touched about the result of the research. Thanks for your comment.

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