PERCEPTION — a Social Experiment

Startling observations — a true story.

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 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 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.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-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 natural curiosity and interest was demonstrated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 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.

1 hour:

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 ever 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.

This is a true story. 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.

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?

Possible conclusions reached from this experiment could 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 . . . it makes you wonder:

Are we capable of recognizing talent, one person at a time? Or, do we need the approval of the masses first, and then simply go along with the herd and agree? Is social proof more important to us than our own personal experience?

How many other things in Life are we missing?

What other amazing experiences are right in front of us that we miss because we are too busy focusing on our preconceived “appointments?”

How many special persons pass us by and we do not MAKE ANY EFFORT TO get to know them?

How many other masters do we turn a deaf ear to?

How many other masters do we turn a deaf ear to?

This is the end of the article entitled PERCEPTION — a Social Experiment published by Tupelo Kenyon on January 11, 2010 at 1:02 am | In Awareness, Communication, Music - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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