Here's a link to an interesting post in another blog about the time people don't take for beauty. http://www.egodialogues.com/general/violinist-in-metro.php In short, Joshua Bell plays in the subway station one morning and only collects thirty-something dollars. Little kids try to watch him, but everyone else hurries on by, missing one of the most popular violinist of the times playing a free concert on a priceless violin.
What's interesting to me is how quickly the comments under the blog catch on the to the flaw - it was rush hour. In the morning. People had work to get to, and schedules to keep. Little kids don't. Also, how many people really like violin music (other than violinists?) Plenty of people have an appreciation for orchestra but hey, violin by itself can be a little high-pitched for the ears. I certainly wouldn't stop for a piccolo player, unless it was to steal their piccolo so they couldn't play it anymore, and the violin pieces I've seen routinely get up into the stratosphere into that shrill dog-whistle range. They're also right about him playing in the subway and people using it as a qualitative marker. The only reason anyone has heard of him was not because he played in the subway, but because he's played the Met. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of Joshua Bell until he lost his damn violin and a taxi driver returned it, which to me was a black mark on him - who loses their instrument? Anyway, I probably would have been the lone person who stopped and listened - I always stop for string players. It's a solidarity thing, even if most of them are snobby.