Busker: a person who entertains in a public place for donations.
Busking: Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities, which are generally in the form of money and edibles. People engaging in this practice are called street performers, buskers, street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours.
Performances can be just about anything that people find entertaining. Performers may do acrobatics, animal tricks, balloon twisting, card tricks, caricatures, clowning, comedy, contortions and escapes, dance, singing, fire eating, fire breathing, fortune-telling, juggling, magic, mime and a mime variation where the artist performs as a living statue, musical performance, puppeteering, snake charming, storytelling or recite poetry or prose as a bard, street art (sketching and painting, etc.), street theatre, sword swallowing, and even putting on a flea circus.
This art form was the most common means of employment for entertainers before the advent of recording and personal electronics.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear of some one busking (if you knew what that word means? Or when you see some one entertaining in this way?
For example, if it is a musician, do you listen? Are you able to enjoy the talent, if indeed they possess any? Or do you see a beggar, a bum, or some one who needs to get a job? Would you drop some money in their case because you appreciate what they are offering or because you feel sorry for them?
This may seem odd to you but this has been on my mind a great deal lately. Why? Because, my husband is a busker. Oh yes, he stands on the street and opens up his case. And then he plays his violin. Sometimes people gather around, sometimes toes start to tap and at times bodies start to dance. He plays songs for children, takes requests, plays fiddle tunes, hymns, classical, musicals, and improvises. Sometimes he will play for hours. Often there is a red blistered spot on his cheek from where his violin rests. And for the past year and a half, the money that enters his case is what I turn around and buy groceries with.
Mostly he receives very positive feedback. Especially here, many people want to play with him or encourage him in his music. Many tell him that they love to hear him play. Venders at the markets ask him to stand by their booth. But, even for all of that, many do not see what he does as a job. They appreciate the music yet don’t seem to realize that fifteen minutes of him chatting with them means that he isn’t making money, that just like the vendors, he is doing a job. But those ones are kind and Dan enjoys chatting with them.
I have actually had people ask me (with disdain) if my husband ever works. This at a time when he was working three jobs and taking classes as well. My response was thankfully pleasant but concise; “yes, he works really hard.” Later the more witty/sarcastic comments came to mind, such as suggesting that perhaps they would like to have a go on his violin. Or to ask how they thought he came to the place where people enjoy, want, and ask for him to play. Then, last night was the icing on the cake. Some one dropped money into his case, said “ at least you look like you are busy, get some help.”
As we talked about it later, Dan was discouraged, he said that he felt like he is viewed as a beggar rather than an artist.. Even though he knows that he is sharing art, beauty that others might otherwise not have the chance to enjoy. He is good at it and those who wish to pay him for it. In a place where unemployment is high as are social assistance checks, he is working. And just happens to love what he is doing.
So what is my point? I suppose that I have a couple. One that I am proud of my husband’s abilities as well as his willingness to provide for our needs creatively using what he can. Secondly, I have a request. Next time you walk past a busker and you appreciate whatever it is they are doing, drop a few coins in if you have them.
It’s too bad our culture has such a twisted concept of “work”. it’s only “hard work” if you have a typical job. My hubby and I are having the same discussions cuz he HATES his “hard” work. We want to live simply, work well within our gifts, and have plentiful family time. Many our against our theologies of work and discourage us from it…but you know…life is more than that. I think you guys are doing it well. You would like the bool Monoculture by F.S. Michaels. That will encourage you. Truly, order if from the library.And Don’t let cruel heartless people have their opinions matter. Be mad at the injustice and be hurt at the misconceptions but don’t let it alter what you do. I am Sooo angry at that son of a…and I wasn’t even there! So Yup, that guy should have kept his mouth shut. Prejudices are everywhere I guess.
And yes, If we have money I always put it in…for both reasons. For the beauty of creating music and because I feel sorry for them…not in the way you may think tho- I feel sorry for them because our culture will never fully embrace or support and I know what that is like in a different way. I feel empathy because I can relate and I wish they did not have to be humiliated at times to enjoy their life gifts they were given.
Keep pressing on. Dan is good at what he does and so are you. Many people would love to have the skills you both possess. So don’t let anyone take that away from you:)
An inspirational quote this year, that Daryl heard before we dived into another great job, was from Dan: “if I can make a living busking, graphic design & running a guest house with my family, I would be a happy man.” Inspiration is what drives creativity. You can make art out of living. We all see Dan’s music as a well learned, & much loved art.
The process though discouraging at times, is a growing encouragement to lives that ‘watch’ from a distance. (& some are envious of these talents that are shared through busking). What you need is to take the hard comments & let them be a learning comfort. In that what you do in the days, weeks that follow is how you grow together in wisdom, strength & unconditional Love.
Thanks Ladies, for your kind words!
Thanks for posting about this… I had never really put much thought into busking, or my attitude towards buskers before. I’ve never really thought of it as a job, but you’re right, it certainly is a job. Thanks for challenging my perspective. I have rarely given to a busker, but I should, especially when I have taken the time to stop and listen.
I think it is really amazing and wonderful how you and Dan are choosing to live. Making family a priority and being creative in how to support your growing family. It really is inspiring. “Work” doesn’t have to be a 9-5 job. Stew and I are having lots of discussions about what to do for work once he’s done his degree, and you remind me that the possibilities really are endless. Thanks, Missy.