Today was my first attempt at bucket drumming.
After a short practice in my building’s bike shed I hauled my assortment of plastic bins and buckets to The Mound. I wanted to try playing somewhere a but quieter before I attempted Bucket Drumming on The Mile. The Mound seemed empty enough, with a few people around to watch.
My set up:
Snare and Bass- red Tesco bucket with a handle
High tom- IKEA waste bin with a pretty floral pattern
Low tom- 2 stacked Dulux pots from my uncle’s shed.
The aim of this whole enterprise was to throw myself out of my comfort zone. My logic was that if I could play buckets badly to hundreds of passing tourists, then gigs with a proper kit playing stuff I’ve learned and practiced won’t feel so scary.
I set up my buckets tried to ignore how nervous I felt, and played an improvised beat badly. I did a stick trick, started another wonky beat, dropped a stick and looked up from retrieving it to see people staring at me. I freaked out, shoved my buckets back into the IKEA bag and almost ran out of there.
Town seemed busy today, for a winter morning. After the my first Bucket Shenanigan I went back out with my flute on the Mile near the castle. I earned £2. From a man who sang along with “Flower of Scotland” out of time, key and tune, while standing too close and staring madly into my eyes. Still, that’s 2 quid.
Bucket Drumming isn’t over. It really worked at scaring me, and although my playing was very, very brief, no one heckled me or phoned the police with a noise complaint. I will try again.
This morning I went out for some busking, with a few Christmas Carols added to my repertoire. On the Royal Mile I met Elaine. She is the world’s most pierced woman, and a lovely person. Her colourful dress, dreadlocks, glittering facepaint and of course, many piercings bring colour to the Mile even in the winter.
She gave me some advice for busking and said that she liked my playing. When she came over to chat and listen to me play, some men wanted a photo with her. She told them to give me a pound instead, because she was busy listening to me right now.
I admire her courage to be the brightest and most colourful person in the street, not afraid to look unusual or to be herself. The world needs more people like Elaine.
Gradually I’m getting to know more of the people of the Mile. There are a few human statues (you have to be on the Mile fairly early to get there before a Human Statue), Market traders with small stalls, some bagpipers, Elaine of course, and a kindly portrait artist who has helped me out with advice when I’ve been busking. Further down the Mile are Fire Jugglers, circus acts and escape artists. They are a part of the street and also a small community, and one of the things I love about Edinburgh. It’s a very different city from Glasgow, but it’s growing on me.
Edinburgh has a beautiful Christmas Market complete with little Merchant’s log-cabin-style huts, lights, music and fairground rides. The huge Ferris Wheel lights up and can be seen from far away. The Royal Mile and city centre was packed with tourists on royal mile so I had a quick lunch then grabbed my flute.
I played on the mile, and then near the beautiful Market, all lit up for the gloom of short winter days. There was so many people it was hard to move. I must have played to about 800 people tonight as they passed, possibly more if I included people within earshot. Something new I had to deal with was weirdos within the crowd. A man who seemed pretty inebriated was fascinated by my flute. For a few seconds he stood nose to nose with me, muttering, pressing at the keys of my flute randomly, as if trying to play a tune. I kept playing despite this, ignoring him, and he moved on. That’s the biggest distraction I’ve had to deal with so far. With so many people around, I felt that he probably wouldn’t be a threat, but this made me consider what I would do next time. It was an eye-opener that where there are lots of people, and I’m drawing attention, I sometimes might have to deal with some nutters. I realised I really need to pay more attention to the streets and keep a look out for people who might cause me trouble or try to steal my flute.
It was the peak of Christmas Shopping Time, people holding onto their money, and I’m not the best or most exciting busker in the world. I earned less than £5, about 5p of that from the crossing near the Market. My pitch by a road crossing probably wasn’t a good idea, people rushing past me to cross to the opposite pavement, but the other places were taken or swamped by Christmas music from the market’s speakers. It’s still money though. And after today I’m much less scared of our second gig!