TRUE STORY: “A violinist in the Metro”



A Violinist in the Metro

A 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?

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?


smell_the_rosesimagessmell roseimagesroe monkey

ismelling a rose


The Washington Post Gene Waingarten. 2007. Pearls before breakfast:Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 August 2016].

Urban Legends David Emery. 2016. A Violinist in the Metro. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 August 2016].



13 Comments Add yours

  1. I am familiar with this story-still it breaks my heart everytime that I read it. Many people were probably late for work and fear driven about that. The rushing we do is a tragedy and about desensitizing us. so very sad.


  2. So true and so sad! I have been caught in the hamster wheel myself, wearing the horse blinders and probably missing many opportunities to appreciate those beautiful moments life offers us… slowly trying to change my priorities πŸ˜‰


  3. LindaP says:

    It’s so sad that we lose the childhood of awe and wonderment of the beautiful world around us!


  4. yes, so true…we get blinded by our responsibilities and forget to enjoy the journey and the beauty it has to offer.


  5. Dear Amira,

    Here we can see that man is more oriented towards title and acknowledgement – we judge people by reputation, what he or she has achieved but for people who are “not yet known” we usually turn our back to them or do not give adequate attention to them – so we are more outwardly oriented – but where is the real love for all brothers and sisters? – it should not be just a show, an alibi, when we give alms (to buy happiness?) – we should have respect and love everyone and not just to those have “achieved something”…

    Thank you very much, my dear friend.
    From hear to heart


    1. So true dear Didi! We judge people even before we get to know them, just by appearances alone, then we get so caught up with titles, and “roles” , celebrities, the “rich and famous” , we don’t see beyond “appearances”. In the end we are all a human family, here for the purpose of learning to love one another… Our roles in life, titles, riches, etc, all that can change in the wink of an eye, all that is only temporary. Our true essence is not. Thank you dear Didi, for bringing up this perspective for us to think more deeply about! From heart to heart, in Unity and Oneness, Amira

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What is the counter-part of the ego-system we see in the world? – service to man, service to our land, service to our soul, service to God – unfortunately we point to our own self as egoists, but once we focus on the help of others, a good part of our selfisness can be avoided (as long as we are not proud of what we are doing -as there is only One Doer). So we can see that often the truth is up-side-down, beyond appearances.
        Thanks for sharing your words and thoughts, dear Amira πŸ™‚
        In Oneness and Unity


        1. I liked what you said about “There is only One Doer” this is a mantra to keep in mind when our ego begins to grow…we need to keep it in check…
          Thank you dear Didi, I am always learning with your comments and wisdom. In Oneness, and Unity πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Welcome, my dear friend Amira πŸ™‚
            May God bless you

            Liked by 1 person

  6. this makes me cry everytime- I believe he was playing a rare strad violin too, so no wonder the cost of it. Now, how sad that we do not even recognize beauty in its’ highest form. Well, there is hope for the children.


    1. So true! You are your students would surely stop! Like you said, there is hope for the children! If we could only become more like them, curious, aware, spontaneous…! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is tragic, sometimes, it seems like we are all working so much and so hard. I will just do without to play as often as I can.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree with you Michele, at so many levels! I had to make that decision as well, when I realized that I was in a treadmill running in a job that allowed me no time “to really live” and appreciate the simple things in life…


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