Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Music makes the feet go faster

Superstar violinist Joshua Bell plays in a Washington, DC, subway station and hardly anyone pays attention. I’d like to think that I would have stopped to hear him, but I also like to think that I would have saved Kitty Genovese’s life. From the Washington Post, complete with video (though I don’t know how long it will be available for free).
Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something. A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened. Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

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