Thoughts Of A Street Musician
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Thoughts Of A Street Musician

As a violinist and busker many times over, let me tell you what we're thinking.

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Thoughts Of A Street Musician

You’re walking down the street or maybe an open-air market when music trickles into your ears. Your curiosity perks up because you can tell it’s the organic sound of live music. Your eyes cross the path of a street guitarist, singing their heart out for a few bucks. You drop a dollar in the open case in front of them for all their efforts and continue on with your day, a smile on your face. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the musician’s eyes?

As a violinist and busker many times over, I can tell you there could be any number of thoughts twirling through our heads – and not all of them what you would expect.

1. I really don’t want to start

It’s really a catch-22. We love it once we start playing, but we have to actually start first . . .

2. I could do this every day

Once we do start playing, we’re in our element. We remember this is what we love to do, and the fact we can earn money doing it just blows us out of the water.

3. Am I too loud?/ Can anybody hear me?

This is especially relevant as a fiddler because my instrument is right next to my ear. So, no, I really have no idea how loud I’m playing. Sorry.

4. Will anyone notice if I play the same song again?

All street performers have that handful of go-to songs they love playing. We really hope no one get’s too annoyed when we keep coming back to those tunes.

5. I should’ve practiced more

As musicians with flaws, there’s always room for improvement. Believe me when I say we know this more than anyone.

6. Is my image working?

Yes, we put thought into whether to wear the fedora or not. And going barefoot wasn’t because we don’t have any shoes. We know we’re putting ourselves out there when we play on the street; we care about how we’re coming across to you.

7. I wish sweat didn’t exist

Sweat makes holding down strings and moving fingers around a whole lot harder. We really are trying, but please bear with us when it’s hot out.

8. My fingers are numb little sticks

On the flip side, we literally can’t feel anything when it dips below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy and expression get a lot harder when you can’t feel your primary tools of the trade.

9. Why wood?

I love the sound of wooden instruments, but keeping them in tune can be a real challenge – especially when the weather changes on us. If we’ve been playing since the chilly morning and you’re now hearing us in the hot afternoon, chances are we’re going to stop to tune more than once.

10. This is spiritual

There’s something about the way music lets us connect with and affect the strangers around us, and you don’t have to be religious to see it. Music is a powerful catalyst for expression. It takes anchor in the souls of the musician, and reaches out to everyone within ear-shot, relaying our emotion, message, and story. That being said, we never quite know how much our music is touching listeners, so if we’ve struck a chord in you, never hesitate to tell us – we’re working hard and it’s refreshing to hear.

11. My muscles are aching

At this point, we’ve been playing more than just a couple hours. Our fingers are raw, but fresh people keep walking by, and do we really want to turn down another request? I guess another dollar and a smile is worth the sacrifice.

12. People are so generous

It really astounds me how generous strangers are. You don’t know why I’m here trying to earn money. You don't know how rich or poor I am. And yet you – complete strangers – go out of your way to give me a small piece of your hard earned cash for doing something I love. No matter what’s going on in my head while I’m busking, at the end of the day, I will always be thankful for the enormous generosity and kindness of strangers. It’s people like you who are the sole reason street performers of any kind can do what they do. So thank you so much from all of us; we’re forever grateful to you.

Thank you all for reading! If you’re curious to see just how much people like you have impacted my life, check back next week to read about Benny, the Hundred Dollar Man. I might even make a list of all the quirky people I’ve met busking over the years, we’ll see. Or if you’re a musician like me, I’d love to hear about your experience on the streets; was my list accurate?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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