Over ten years ago, on a cold Friday morning of January 12, 2007, virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell stood near the entrance of one of the Washington, D.C. subway stations. It was 7:51 a.m. In the next 43 minutes, the violinist performed several timeless, classical pieces.
It was an experiment of sorts: if a world-famous musician brought some most beautiful music to people, would they stop and listen?
So, what do you think happened? 1,097 people passed by. At first, no one noticed him. Later on, only 27 stopped to listen to his music.
The violinist, whose concert hall performances are always sold out, and who plays on a Stradivarius violin that cost him approximately $3.5 million, earned just $32.
The very idea of the experiment was to show that you need active listeners. “Music needs that attention – you can’t throw it to people while they’re rushing to work,” said Bell.