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Go busking!

LesterOld

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I realise that busking isn't exactly a new concept, but I just started recently and as a beginner I'd strongly recommend it as a way to develop. In my experience so far, going out and playing in public is a very different kind of practice than I would do at home. I would say the benefits are:

  1. You are practicing performance. I find performing quite nerve-wracking. But with busking the pressure is much lower. You can choose a quiet spot to start and work up to more crowded areas as your confidence grows. If you mess up don't worry your current audience won't even be there 2m from now!
  2. You play entire songs. In the practice room it's tempting to stop and go back when you mess up. This is a good thing in many cases, but playing through mistakes and recovering is itself a valuable skill.
  3. You meet people. I've had several musicians and jazz fans stop and talk to me. This is a great way to find people you might play with in future
  4. Your outside!
  5. You don't need anyone else. This is a big one because we all know how hard it is to get 4 musicians in a room.
I think there are more benefits to be honest, but this is enough to mean that busking will now be a permanent part of my practice. I've also found a friend to busk with. There's nothing better for practicing phrasing than trading 4s for two whole choruses, something I wouldn't do at a gig.

My setup for those wondering is a powerful Bluetooth speaker (W-King 60w from Amazon @ £75 -- trust me you need more power than you think), and a tripod for my phone to control music and see chords if you want to do that. I try to use real backing tracks if they're on YouTube otherwise irealpro.
 
My setup for those wondering is a powerful Bluetooth speaker (W-King 60w from Amazon @ £75 -- trust me you need more power than you think), and a tripod for my phone to control music and see chords if you want to do that. I try to use real backing tracks if they're on YouTube otherwise irealpro.
Have you tried without either an amp or without backing tracks?
 
Do you find you're still making decent money? I'm in a band that used to busk a bit, but since COVID we haven't tried again. Partly busy with other gigs, but also wondering whether it would be worth it with fewer punters carrying cash.
 
Do you find you're still making decent money? I'm in a band that used to busk a bit, but since COVID we haven't tried again. Partly busy with other gigs, but also wondering whether it would be worth it with fewer punters carrying cash.
Haha nope. Maybe £10 in an hour. Like you said, even people who enjoy it don't have cash. I just do it for fun. The more serious buskers around here use QR codes.
 
Less annoying for people who don't want to hear you in the next street or anyone who wants to continue the conversation they are having within a hundred yards of you.
My speaker is pretty quiet to be honest. It sounds loud in a room but the street swallows up the sound. I play in places that already have a lot of background noise. Nobody's seemed annoyed with me so far
 
wondering whether it would be worth it with fewer punters carrying cash.
That’s a really good point.
Nobody's seemed annoyed with me so far
Could that be because they don’t come very close and so you aren’t aware.

Generally if I see/hear a saxophone busking acoustically I give them money. If they are amplified I avoid them if possible.
 
You are practicing performance. I find performing quite nerve-wracking. But with busking the pressure is much lower. You can choose a quiet spot to start and work up to more crowded areas as your confidence grows.
Also a good way to test new songs. I've just been busking 4-5 times but others sax players I know are testing new stuff.
You play entire songs. In the practice room it's tempting to stop and go back when you mess up. This is a good thing in many cases, but playing through mistakes and recovering is itself a valuable skill.
I had a backing track with 4-5 different Clarence Clemons solos. The songs were faded out and faded in before the solos were kicking in;). The listeners really liked it, Not because of me. The "Big Man" was very popular in Sweden.
You meet people. I've had several musicians and jazz fans stop and talk to me. This is a great way to find people you might play with in future
Yes, and that can result in new playing projects.

The busking for me was a reason to pick up my sax and practice. A goal. Also to spread Rock & Roll (Saxophone) music.

Instead of bring my sax, amp, laptop, stand ...... I hang out small sign by the road. Just a few that came in. I was just playing 1-3 songs but often I played recordings or they were looking/reading old magazines and books about the real honkers. Some saxes, mouthpieces, reeds ..... . Just a sax without playing it can be a "door opener".

I was not doing this for the money.
 

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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