Joshua Bell is one of the finest violinists in the world. He plays on a $3.5 million instrument handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. His music is, by any measure, astonishing.

Yet, on January 12, 2007, when Bell gave an incognito concert in a Washington, D.C., Metro station, hardly anyone stopped to listen.

Why? Name your reason:

1. He didn’t look like a virtuoso — he looked like just another street musician.

2. He had his violin case open for donations. People don’t want to donate.

3. It was rush hour. People were rushing.

4. The commuters didn’t hear him. They were on the phone, or listening to an iPod.

5. We’re not children. (Children tried to stop and listen. Parents pulled them away.)

Whatever the reason, the challenge is clear — if we’re not receptive to unexpected beauty, we miss it. This week make a promise to yourself: Slow down. Look. Listen. There’s music all around us, if we’re only willing to hear it.

Originally published at