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Hey, you guys. I've been considering playing in my city's streets for a long time, or ever since I got my first violin. lol
I've been playing for two years now, so I've got some expertise, I'd say, and can play a few songs decently. However, I'm a quite shy guy when it comes to handling a crowd. I've played the guitar publicly before, even on a stage; But, for some reason, it feels completely different when I'm with the violin. Usually people pay much more attention when it's a violin playing, because fiddlers are "rare" here in Brazil and pretty much everyone I know can do at least a few chords in the guitar. I figure I'd gather a much bigger crowd than I usually do with the Guitar, and I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to manage them, or that I wouldn't have enough songs to play.
Have you ever played publicly played/busked/performed live? Have you got any people to help manage the crowd? How many songs did you play? I'd appreciate any tips and/or comments you guys could give me. It's being a very rainy week so far, so I've got time to think about this and prepare.
PS: Sorry for the grammar mistake on the topic's title, it was meant to be "on" the streets, I believe.
I am by no means a fantastic player. I am rather on the low end of the scale. However, I play in public almost every day. I travel up and down the highway to sites for work. Along the way, there are 4 or 5 Rest Areas I regularly stop in to play. I drive to the back of the parking area, usually in the grass, and start playing. The violin has a way to carry its tune quite a long way and people notice it. Usually 1 or 2 gather and watch. I have about 15 song bits I can saw through and have it sound not to bad.
On several occasions I was given money for what I was playing. It seems funny the first few times, then you realize, they donated to you because you brought them some pleasure for a brief moment in a sometimes stress filled day. I do not disrupt traffic or facilities. I don't have to worry about crowd control as I am not performing for an audience. I am playing, again, for me. If others take some measure of pleasure from what I am doing, it makes it that much more special to me. I live in Oregon, USA. it rains here even when it's not raining. It also snows a lot in the mountain passes. One of my normal stops is in the pass. If I can safely stop, I still play- rain or shine. there's a small canopy I can get under. Then, away I go. Again, play for the joy that you get out of it. No matter where you are or where you play. If people don't like it, let them move along. Who cares what they say or how they act. This is life. If you live it how others think you should, then you will miss out on great moments and amazing event.
Just play for you. Let the crowd manage itself. If you are drawing that many people when you play, then perhaps being on the street isn't where you should be. Above all just have fun doing it.
"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader
I don't busk. But I do on occasion play in public places. The city I live in is much smaller than yours, though, so there is perhaps less worry of managing the crowd.
Take along a friend. Several, if you can.
Ok, I know.. We're musicians. If we had that many friends, we never would have had time to practice. LOL
So acquaintances will do. Just ask people you know who might like to listen to you play for a while and hang out.
At least one, though. To help keep an eye on equipment and head off any trouble.
If you start with people hanging out, it is easier to get a little crowd, and if the people that are already hanging out are acting cool, people who join up will usually tend to be cool.
Take a spare instrument, if you have one.
If you do get some strangers hanging around and listening, you can lose them in the length of time it can take to change a string unless you are very fast at such things. Still, a backup is a good plan, if possible.
Focus on your best material.
Five songs that you can play well is more impressive than a dozen that you can only somewhat play. Most people that may stop to listen aren't likely to stand around for hours.
Always end on one of your best.
The last impression will be what people take away with them, and what they will think of when/if they see you again. Not a good slot for anything "risky" or where you have to be at your best to pull it off. Some piece you could probably do in your sleep is the better choice for closing.
And as Tyberius is saying..
Do it for yourself. Because you enjoy the location or environment, because it is fun.
If donations are what you are after, there can be time to think on how to optimize that after you have played a few times and figured out what goes over and how the people in your area react.
It is worth doing even without the money angle, for your own development as a musician. There is what we think is good, and then there is what goes over with audience, and they are not always the same. Music is a form of communication, entertainment. What we put into it is only half of that communication. How the audience reacts and learning what songs you can do that seem to actually entertain others is worth learning, and part of becoming a good player.
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman
Thanks for the tips, @DanielB and @Tyberius ! I'll make sure I'll follow them when I play.
I so hope I can get better at this. Just to be able to play. So many people have asked. My co-worker asked me to bring my violin to work to play songs for our Christmas party... Today.. but I didn't have my nerve up... But some day.
Part of me thinks I should take the violin to New Years Eve at my mom's little senior community... and play a tune as I am leaving.
Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato
I don't busk but every Christmas I volunter myself to do small performances with my teacher whether is in nursing homes or simple performances on the street just to bring joy to the others This last Sunday I had the opportunity to perform in a Christmas party for the homeless held on my university campus.
Since my college is in Lisbon's downtown, everyday I get the chance to see several street performers. The advices I can give you by experience and by seeing other artists are: play with your heart, don't worry about the crowd or the mistakes you may do and smile smile smile You may make a big difference on someone's day!
The violin itself raises some curiosity but it's all about being yourself and play with joy!
@augustoad - heyyy - only butting-in here - @DanielB and @tyberius said it all. I wish you success in your public performances - keep us advised on how it goes !
From my own, personal point of view, I just don't feel that my music / performance "is complete" until I have an audience that's more than just family and friends. But yes, go with a "workable" repertoire that you can play blindfold, and not something you are still "working on" !
And @coolpinkone - you can do it ! I know you can !
Cheers all, holidays are just about upon us - enjoy the break !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
Hey Augusto Seems to me you have some pretty good advice so far so I will only amplify DanielB's suggestion to take a spare instrument ... perhaps since you are comfortable with it you should take the guitar as your backup or design a set of songs that switch between your two instruments or play small sets that use the same songs on the two instruments. Regardless, best of good fortune.
@ElisaDalViolin , @BillyG and @Raywells , Thanks for the advices! Whenever I start busking I'll make sure I pay attention to them.
@coolpinkone , "加油"! (If you look for a translation, you'll probably find 'refuel', but what it means is 'cheer up'.) We're on the same boat here, and I wish you the best of luck. I've played for known people before, and I've even played for children in my old school (while I was helping a fellow fiddler that I happened to meet), and I'm pretty sure you can do it!
Take your time and merge into it gently. There's no need to run with your hair on fire declaring anything. Just play. Whatever your skill level, people will appreciate your efforts. Often, they will say they wished they had taken music up when they were younger. I always say, you are younger right now, today, then you will be tomorrow. Don't wish tomorrow you had tried playing before. This time now is the "before" you'll be wishing for.
We all have our own ability and skill sets. Do not let your thoughts cloud up and instill doubt that you can't play for people. Just relax and have fun. I even had pointers given to me from Concert Cellist from Portland Symphony one day. So, by playing and having fun, I even got a free lesson. How awesome is that!!!
"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader
@Tyberius , that's awesome! Thanks for your support and for all your tips
actually my first performance when i first stand in front of the audience i felt very nervous that my hand shake was anoying as the bow shakes with it
my second time i was less nervous
the third was less and so was the fourth until i now don't feel any nervous
when i look back to my videos i say that was an aweful performance but at that moment i really didn't think about it much as i thought well let the nerves and performance around they are necessary of course but the most important back then that i enjoyed much being playing my violin and with improvment i enjoy more i don't consider audience exist i imagine that i'm alone with my violin when i perform that helps me to remove the nerve and shake
The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love.
@John Rafeek , I know, pretending you're alone there helps a lot XD When I sang in my school's contest (which I won first place, by the way), I didn't even look at the audience in the first day... I had to on the second though, so I could get extra points haha
But it's as the other guys said, it should be more for fun than for showing off. I know it'd be fun to play the violin in public because I've playing a plethora of instruments in public before, but I rarely ever played the violin like that, and going straight to the streets would be a huge step forward. I still want to do it though.
Very cool!! I have been thinking this is what I really want to do too, eventually.
For now my public is at the weekly jam. Sometimes there are up to 20 people made up of clerks and customers in the store, those just listening and people playing.
First few times I shook too, but now it is just my mind going blank!! Which is worse whole body vibrato or sounds of silence?!?
There are a few events where I could just stand out on the sidewalk and play - our Halloween Festival, Folk Festival. Hold the phone I just had a flash of an idea!! We have a garden tour where artists are painting in the garden - How about a fiddle player at one of the gardens? That would be just a bit after my 2 years anniversary of learning the violin. Wait, wait,wait - I am co-chair of the garden tour. I run a conservatory that sells plants for the club during the tour. I could sit in there and just play during the tour, nothing formal.
Funny, when I first approached the director of the museum about a conservatory he said "music?". I laughed and said, "No, plants"!!
Violinist start date - May 2013
Fiddler start date - May 2014
FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius. BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.
@Schaick , Great idea! I'd go for it if I were you.
Hey you guys. I might play this week around wednesday, and if I do so I'll try to bring a friend to watch my stuff as I play, even maybe record.
I came up with a setlist of songs for me to play. I can play those songs without even looking at sheet music (no big deal considering I've been an ear player since I began playing the violin lol). I'll link you guys to every song I came up with as I tell the name so you can have an idea of what I'll be playing. (Note the songs aren't in order, I just wrote them down as it came to my mind)
Brothers (from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime)
The Tunnel (From Metroid 2, on the GameBoy)
Canon in D (guess everyone knows this one)
Castitatis Lilium (from the Elfen Lied anime)
Super Mario Bros. Theme (totally not from Doneky Kong)
Sadness and Sorrow (from the Naruto anime)
Hometown Domina (from Legend of Mana)
Irish Washerwoman (pretty sure everyone knows this one as well)
Final Fantasy Main Theme
Light and the Glass (by Coheed and Cambria)
Titanium (by David Guetta)
Serpents in Disguise (sorry, didn't find Album version. This song is by Three)
Live Entertainment (also by Three)
I've been playing at least half of these songs since I started playing the violin, so I feel very safe playing them. I hardly ever miss any notes in any of them, so I guess I will do just fine. If I do get to play, I'll post news here. Wish me luck
From my experience you have to get out there a make progress! Win or loose you better yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone.
ive only played for four months, and after month two and a half i started busking in the street. I've recieved more compliments thean rants because people appreciate the effort put forth. I even met a girl who is a prodigy of sorts from Texas. Through some aloof girl persuasion between myself and her friends, I was eluded to lend her my instrument... She played about 5 minutes of a virtuous classical piece as she gazed into my eyes (she must be an established violinist) . I've also been payed to stop playing (on a bad day of course...)
ive gotten a little ahead of myself. About my history... My first solo performance in front of an audience was in the 6th grade orchestra where I solo'd the theme of Star Wars. Now I can play for anybody before the drop of a hat. (Just be sure I am warmed up).
P.S. Back then I was playing without sheet music. In the next bit of months I will be playing with sheet music on my new music stand heh