Two Fridays ago I tried my hand at busking for the first time (I’d say second, but I’m pretty sure that nothing that happens on Unofficial counts as real life). It was a rather spur of the moment face your fears just do this sort of situation, but it turned out I needn’t have worried. People rather enjoyed hearing a random oboist in downtown Radolfzell. Unfortunately I only managed to play for about twenty minutes before my embouchure began to give out (that’s what not playing for a couple months will do to you). Still, I managed to earn eight euros!
The Kleingeld was nice, but much more gratifying was watching the way people did or didn’t toss me some change. The very first euro I made came before I even played a note. As I steadied my music stand (lame, I know), a woman hurriedly approached me and exclaimed something in German, of which I only understood something about “fifteen years”, while placing two fifty cent pieces in my case. Encouraged, I began to play an etude to nobody in particular. Soon I noticed a couple cyclists dismount nearby to watch me finish the piece. They clapped, and listened to another piece before giving me a couple more euros and heading on their way. Other people, meanwhile, walked by with interest ranging from zero to obvious, some slowing, some stopping, some speeding up to get away from me. Every single child that walked by watched me as long as they could before their mothers coaxed them away, reminding me of this amazing article from the Washington Post. My favorite patrons were the kids whose parents gave them money to put in my case. Their cuteness, however, didn’t stop me from shuddering to think where all this money has been before finding itself in my precious oboe case. I should have brought a hat.
Last Sunday I tried my luck again, this time at the train station underpass. I was thrilled to find the spot vacant when I arrived, as it is usually occupied by two eastern European men playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” over and over and over on accordions. I set up shop once again with my oboe. I played a bit longer this time, but found that I made less money than I had the week before at what I thought was a less lucrative spot! It still sounded awesome in that echoey tunnel, if I may say so myself. Here’s a picture (thanks, Geoff!) of me playing to an adoring public:
After about half an hour I packed up the oboe and decided “what the heck I’ll try guitar too”. I had it with me, and was toying with the idea for weeks. As luck would have it, people responded immediately and with more fervor and generosity to pop music than baroque, and I walked away after an hour with 23 euros jangling in my backpack. Needless to say, I’ve been inspired to go back tomorrow with a new and improved repertoire of songs that German people might know.