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 Rush Hour

Not so very long ago a man stood in 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 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands 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 a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried along 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 late for work. 

The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year-old boy.  His mother dragged him along, hurrying, but the child stopped to look at the violinist.  Finally, the mother pushed hard and the boy 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 six 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 most talented and respected musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin that is worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats average $100.