I came across an interesting story. It concerns an experiment that involved one of today’s premier muscians, violinist Joshua Bell. He is a virtuoso with the violin and sells out concerts around the world. This experiment involved Bell dressing in street clothes and playing his violin in a subway station. As detailed in this Washington Post article, entitled Pearls Before Breakfast, the question was whether or not anyone would pay attention to the man with the fiddle. Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked this question. His response? “Let’s assume,” Slatkin said, “that he is not recognized and just taken for granted as a street musician . . . Still, I don’t think that if he’s really good, he’s going to go unnoticed. He’d get a larger audience in Europe . . . but, okay, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening.” When asked how much the musician would make his response was $150.
The reality of the situation was much different. Few people stopped, he only made $32, and as the following video shows only one person recognized him.
For the writers and commenters this raised the question “Are our lifes so rushed that we cannot slow down to appreciate the beauty in them?” To me it raises a question of preconceived notions. In this case we assume that if someone has to ply their musical trade in a subway they are not very good. We don’t even bother to listen to see if our preconceived notions and assumptions are true or not. In this case they were not. Bell is superb, yet few bothered to even give him a glance.
How about you. Do you have preconceived notions that should be reconsidered? Do you look at someone because of their age, race, color, education, etc. and assume they could not/should not work for you?
THINK ABOUT IT.
Photo credit: Mike Haberman
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