The Ballestero Blog

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At An Inappropriate Hour, Do We Perceive Beauty?

with 7 comments

In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this 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 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. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

At 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.

After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

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 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. This experiment raised several questions:

  • In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • If so, 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 one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . . How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life NOW … it has an expiration date.

Snopes verifies this as true http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.asp

(Taken from an email.)

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 12, 2011 at 2:27 am

Posted in Life

7 Responses

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  1. beautiful!!!

    sissy hudson

    February 12, 2011 at 2:40 am

    • This is so true.What a beautiful story. We are definately missing out on so many of lifes treasures. You never cease to amaze me!

      Brenda Lawrence

      February 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

  2. This gives new meaning to “stop and smell the roses”!

    Crystal Smith (Morris)

    February 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm

  3. I do believe this is a good case for going to church! Do we really appreciate what God is doing for us all the time? When we are ready to take the time (at church) and really drink in His goodness and blessings we can clearly see and appreciate His awesomeness and power! 🙂

    Linda

    February 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

  4. Incredible…America is losing her appreciation for anything beautiful, and alas…her beautiful freedom.

    Larry Billings

    February 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm

  5. Love this story.

    Shirley Buxton

    February 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm

  6. Thank you Sir,
    At An Inappropriate Hour, Do We Perceive Beauty spoke to me tonight. God reminded me that he is still the master. Although there are those who will walk on by and be satisfied with the shallow and even desire the cheap and imitation, God is still the master. He is even now laying the ground work for a soul who will be willing to pay the price.
    Thanks for posting you are and encouragement.

    Bro. Nathan Neff

    February 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm


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