Friday, January 23, 2009

For Whom the Bell Plays

This week: a provocative story and a question for your table.

(as always, try printing and sharing at the dinner table)

The Story:

Have you ever stopped to listen to a street musician? Have you ever not stopped? How do you decide when to stop, and for how long?

It was a cold January day in Washington. Typical Friday morning rush hour.

A good-looking man in jeans and baseball cap emerged from the metro at L’Enfant Plaza and opened his violin case near a trash can.

He threw in a few dollars from his own pocket, then began to play.

For the next 43 minutes, he played six songs by Bach. During that time, 1,097 people passed by on their way to work.

Consultants, analysts, specialists....

Of those 1,097 passers-by, seven people stopped for at least a minute. 27 gave money (he earned $32.17). The other 1,070 people simply rushed by.

Only one of those who stopped recognized that she was face-to-face with Joshua Bell, one of the most celebrated musicians in the world. Typically, people are willing to pay $100 or more to hear him perform (and that’s for average seats).

He was playing his $4 million Stradivarius.

In the Washington Post’s story about this event, the journalist noticed that “every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”


Here is the Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story: “Pearls Before Breakfast”.

Question for your table – Would you have stopped on your way to work, or are you in “too much of a hurry”? Would you have even noticed?

Shabbat Shalom

Here is a bonus - Bell does Beethoven:

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