Seeing music

When Julie Landsman auditioned for the role of principal French horn at the Metropolitan Opera of New York (Met for short), the screens had just gone up in the practice hail. At the time, there were no women in the brass section of the orchestra, because everyone “knew” that women could not play the horn as well as men. But Landsman came and sat down and played—and she played well.

But when they declared her the winner and she stepped out from behind the screen, there was a gasp. It wasn’t just that she was a woman, and female horn players were rare.. And it wasn’t just that bold, extended high C, which was the kind of macho sound that they expected from a man only. It was because they knew her. Landsman had played for the Met before as a substitute. Until they listened to her with just their ears, however, they had no idea she was so good.

When the screen created a pure Blink moment, a small miracle happened, the kind of small miracle that is always possible when we take charge of the first two seconds: they saw her for who she truly was.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink