Thoughts

To Busk or Not To Busk

I had a mild nightmare a few days ago about my fiddle.  I dreamt that I was practicing a piece with other people.  I was really nervous because this was my first time playing in a group.  We practiced repeatedly & eventually we decided to give the piece a try.  The leader of the group, a man playing something like a cello, counted us off.  Everyone starts together but after a few notes, my violin is off-key.  I start sawing at it frantically as the instrument deflates like a balloon in my hands.  Everyone stops & stares.  The leader takes the fiddle out of my hands & asks, “What happened?”  I wake up before I can answer him.

I am not usually a performer.  I’m still trying to keep from breaking into a sweat even just showing my teacher what I’ve learned.  But Steve is encouraging.  After my lesson last week, he said I should get friends together for caroling & start practicing.  “There’s nothing like a gig to give you experience as a musician.”

He then outlined the difference between a practitioner & a musician.  “A practitioner plays the same piece over & over again until it’s note perfect.  If they make a mistake, they start over from the beginning.  A musician tries to capture the feel of the music & doesn’t worry if they hit a few bad notes.  They just keep going.”

So, I said I would think about putting a caroling group together, but I didn’t really believe the words as they came out of my mouth.  My shyness & reluctance to draw attention manifests itself in weird ways.  There’s a difference between performing & doing something because you think it’ll be a good story.  I’ll sing lead in Rock Band or dance with the belly dancers in a Middle Eastern restaurant because I can goof on myself later.

But doing something that I claim to have skill with?  Much more nerve-wracking because I have a perfectionist streak.  I totally fixate on my errors, causing more errors, which makes me more nervous & leads to more errors.

Then, last night, my husband & I watched the (so-so) movie The Visitor.  The film ends with a character playing a drum in a subway.  Not just to busk, but because he wants to play in public & he can.  & I have to say, the idea appealed to me a little.

I’ve always avoided street performers with the same sort of anxiety I reserve for the homeless.  “Oh God, if they see me looking, they’ll want something from me.”  But with Steve’s suggestion, the idea of playing in public seems less frightening & a little more interesting.  I may only be a month or so into my practice, but being able to play just a little opens some interesting doors, busking being one of them.

Things aren’t bad enough yet at home that I have to try & supplement our income.  (If I really needed the money, I could probably make more reading tarot.)  Call it middle class slumming, a gypsy of the suburban order.  Makes me curious what kind of stories I could come away with.

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