Violinist in the Metro

I often get fun emails of an unknown origin. This is one of them. I checked it out on and it is true. You can go there for more details.

Violinist in the Metro— Wash, DC

joshua-bell-violinistA man sat at 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 thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work


The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head 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 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 best 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 his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an 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? 


I guess one of the reasons I liked this email was I LIKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. Beautiful music to me is any music that causes my spirit to celebrate the wonders of earth, heaven, life or the soul. It doesn’t matter if it is a child who can’t carry a tune or a father who can’t really sing, an orchestra or band full of children who are just learning to play, or the average middle aged person giving music their best efforts – I love music!


Interestingly I was actually evicted from an apartment for singing once upon a time…


An opera singer who lived beneath me used to wake me up very early every morning when she did her vocal warm-ups on the patio. One day I went out on my balcony and joined in her song. I gave it my best operatic effort. Unfortunately it wasn’t appreciated… No Money PLEASE


Anyway, I hope you take the time to appreciate the beauty of music and all the beauty around you.


One Response to Violinist in the Metro

  1. Emily says:

    Thank you for posting this story! I hadn’t heard it. I love music… so many things can be said through music that can’t be said with words.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: