Saturday, 26 January 2013

Listen, Listen, Listen


It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. A violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job.

Each passer-by had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

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 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.

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?”

I would love to hear how this strikes a cord with you. Would you have stopped? Do you think your children would have stopped You? Does this make you want to pay more attention to the people and moments around you?

Let us not miss one moment of life in the name of ‘schedule’ or ‘busy’. I so wish I’d been there to hear him free, instead of the usual $100 per seat minimum for a concert. As it is often our Buzz to stop for any and all musicians who play and our children love to offer them money in gratitude, I know we would have stopped… would you? I hope so 

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