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Topic: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Virtuoso Joshua Bell took his $3.5 million Stradivarius (of 'The Red Violin' fame) to the subways of Washington D.C. to entertain the commuters.

    Did anybody notice?

    Read this entertaining account of what happened:

    I can identify as I used to busk with my harp in the New York City subways while attending college.

    Has this ever happened to you?

  2. #2

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Great link, thanks.

    I pretty much always stop for a busker and at least toss in a buck. If they're actually good, I'll sit and watch. I like to think I'm never in so much of a hurry that I can't take time for music. Of course, there's no public transport where I live, so I don't run across street music much. I've seen some amazing players in the Paris metro though.

    Best quote:

    "Actually," Bell said with a laugh, "that's not so bad, considering. That's 40 bucks an hour. I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn't have to pay an agent."

  3. #3

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Fascinating article. I used to busk full-time on the streets of Glasgow and other places, paid rehearsal time as I saw it and it got me warmed up for the evening gigs.

    Some things worked better than others for instance, I played Irish / Scottish traditional tunes on the Tenor Banjo and actually made more money than my friends along the street singing and playing guitar, novelty value? Playing fast familiar tunes got the coins rolling in as did looking happy, smiling and thanking passers by when they threw some money into the case.

    I also found that emptying the case of coins when it got a bit full helped as well, don't want to appear too rich.

    Busking on city streets was kind of a showcase and led to many meetings with other musicians, offers to join this or that band or share a bottle wrapped in brown paper with some appreciative 'street person' (always declined).

    I enjoyed those days and without a doubt busking enhanced both my skills as a musician and my musical career in general.

  4. #4

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Koyaanisqatsi, indeed.
    Experience what is necessary to build upon self character, for that is Life's most significant learning event.

  5. #5

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Wow, very interesting!

    I have to admit, if I had been there (and, come to think of it I have been at good old L'Enfant Plaza before... ) I probably would've walked right past... when I have somewhere I need to go, I focus on getting there. Actually, walking past such fine music would probably make me angry that I had somewhere to go in the first place.

    The results do not seem surprising though... and the written article seems rather snobby.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  6. #6
    Senior Member Leaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Dallas, TX

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    That's some funny stuff. When i was in Lausanne Switzerland, the young buskers were so good it would make your jaw drop. I think there must be some very good music conservatory there. I never once thought they could perhaps be a famous musician among the best, but more than once i thought the peson will be someday. I would throw 2 five franc coins and could tell by their reaction they were not used to getting that much.

  7. #7

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    I commute to California every month, and stay at a long-term residential apartment complex. I was checking in one day, and there was a man playing the piano in the lobby (a nice baby grand). I kind of tuned it out at first, but after about thirty seconds, whatever part of my brain that pays attention to such things said "Hey, he's not comping over ii-v-i changes in his sleep -- he's playing some serious music."

    After just hanging out at the front desk for about 30 minutes listening to him absolutely *throw down* some Chopin, he finishes and takes off up the stairs before I can go over and shake his hand or say well done.

    I ask the desk clerk, she says he's a former concert pianist from Japan who has been living there for two years doing something high-tech, and that he occasionally comes down and plays. I made her promise to phone my room next time he shows up, but no luck.

    Judy Carmichael used to play piano at Disneyland for 7 hours a day as background music in a hot dog eatery. She says she loved it because nobody paid any attention to her at all, so if she wanted to do 20 different choruses of a particular piece, she could.


  8. #8

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    I have one rule for street players here in Nice: They have to be playing in tune, then they'll get the odd Euro or whatever piece I have in my pocket at that time.

    I don't remember ever giving a coin to a violinist, however.

    Must be my ears.


  9. #9

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    I blogged about this yesterday and someone commented this morning with this link: http://sawlady.com/blog/?p=27

    The Saw Lady says:

    "The Washington Post analized it as if it were the fault of the audience, the passers by, for not recognizing such a great musician. I say - it wasn’t the fault of the passers by at all... when you play on the street you can’t approach it as if you are playing on a stage. Busking is an art form of its own. You need to be as good a musician as to audition for any stage gig (the competition over permits is fierce) but in addition to that you have to relate to the audience and be a real people’s person. You can’t hide behind your instrument and just play, with an invisible wall between you and the audience, the way a stage performance is conducted."

    A more appropriate perspective in my opinion!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  10. #10

    Re: Busking: Has this Ever Happened To You?

    Very interesting!

    I firmly hold a a very pleasant memory. This memory is of a young woman playing her expensive looking harp in the middle of Boston Commons on a warm, sunny day. There were at least few dozen people standing and listening to her well-played "performance". I was one of them. For a good 1/2 hour, like many of the other "audience members", I stood and listened to the her wonderful music and enjoyed the warmth of the mid-day sun.

    There was a plastic, gallon-sized bucket in front of her. It looked like it might have once contained a gallon's worth of pickles. LOL! It wasn't filled with pickles, though. It was FULL with dollar bills. There must have been, easily, 50, 60, 70 bucks in there. Maybe more! I thought to myself, "What a gig!!!" I was awe-struck by the amount of money in that old pickle container. She deserved every dollar and change found in there, though.

    This took place nearly 30 years ago. Seems like yesterday. . . .

    Ahh. . . memories. . . .

    By the way. . . This is the FIRST time that I ever "heard" (read) of the term "busking". LOL!
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

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