The fine art of busking, part 2

So the man gave me his chips after tipping me, and I ate them. The way I figure it, it meant I didn’t have to pay for my own lunch.

As I wrote previously, buskers are viewed as musical beggars. But the people that I perform with are amazing. Some of them look a little long in the tooth, and possibly a little disheveled – but they are human beings nonetheless, and they, like me, choose to eke out a living from music. I have huge respect for them. Perhaps in New York and London, where buskers perform at subway and underground stations (as in Moscow), buskers are probably seen as dodgy too. But I will say this: if a singing student of mine told me that they were terrified of performing, I would take them with me to The Zone and get them to sing in front of people. That will soon cure their stage fright. I will write about this in another blog post in the future.

Despite the fact that it really gives you nerves of steel, I also love busking because it does take you from amateur to professional, and it keeps the voice in tip-top shape. At a gig I did a few weeks ago at another venue, my first set was 90 minutes of uninterrupted singing, followed by a one-hour break and then another 60-minute set. By the end of it all, my body was exhausted, and my voice? Perfectly fine. I could easily have sung for another two hours. As they say, practice makes perfect.

In addition, in the two years I have been back at busking, my voice and my musical message have reached over 50,000 people, based on the number of folks who walk past and hear me sing – even if they don’t pay me. Also, in these past two years I have also made over R20,000 from tips. This is money that goes into savings. Can you imagine how much that will be at 6% interest for the next 20 years? Nothing to sneer at.

And besides all of that, the greatest musicians in the world spent years doing seemingly uninspiring gigs in the world’s most dingy places – and all it did was made them brilliant at what they do. ABBA and The Beatles are two great examples of that.

So bring it on baby. I LOVE busking. I get paid to do what I love, I expose people to my message, I am surrounded by like-minded people who adore music, I am paying my dues, and I am getting boatloads of practice. I will continue to busk, just as long as I can…

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