This story is amazing, and has a lot of lessons about context, value, appreciation and connecting with your audience. The follow-up is also worth a read. Check out the story before you read the rest of this post, what’s below is a big spoiler.

What I wanted to share most was this: [bracketed comments mine]

Before he began, [one of the best violinists in the world Josh] Bell hadn’t known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

“It wasn’t exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies,” he says. “I was stressing a little.”

Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro? [yes, you read that right, the subway, not a concert hall in DC called the Metro.]

“When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .”

He was, in short, art without a frame. Which, it turns out, may have a lot to do with what happened — or, more precisely, what didn’t happen — on January 12.

Moments before I read this Augustin Hadelich was being profiled on WBUR (Listen here on Real Media). Hadelich won the gold medal at the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis last fall. In the story they discuss how nervous he was at the competition and how important those “nerves” were to his excellence — and dominance there. They contributed energy and excitement to the violinist-audience dynamic.

Take heart, nervous energy is a universal and natural part of performance no matter who, and how accomplished, you are. My point? it’s not “getting over” your nerves because you are “good enough”, it’s harnessing them to work for good and not evil.

Thanks to Seth Godin’s blog for the link to the Post story.