Stories from the Sunday School Times
A man sat at a metro station in Washington, D.C., and started to play the violin. It was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about forty-five minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people passed through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by, and a middle-aged man noticed the 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 three-year-old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried; but the boy stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pulled firmly; 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 forty-five minutes the musician played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About twenty 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 top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, in that metro station, with a violin worth $3.5 million. Two days prior to this, Bell had sold out at a theater in Boston, with ticket prices averaging in the hundreds.