Tag Archives: Flute

Sunday 7th December – Busking

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. 

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Sunday 12th October- Good day for Busking

Woke up and went busking. Sunny day, lots of people out on the Royal Mile. My list of songs is starting to get longer. I have a new knitted beanie hat in pretty autumnal colours, and it might be magical. I didn’t bring my Thank You-have-a-nice-day-smiley-face sign today. Strangely, my way of thanking people (because I play a wind instrument, most of the time I can’t stop to say thanks) seemed to put them off. Perhaps it reminds them of cardboard signs some people have when they’re begging. I’m not begging. I’m doing my best to entertain people and make them smile. The main aim besides a little extra money is to play in public so often that when it comes to my first gig on drums, I’m not really nervous.

People were very generous today. One very kind woman dressed in pink gave me £10! I saw her pass, looked down in my case and there were two five-pound notes! I was absolutely thrilled, Before I could gather my wits to shout Thank You! she was gone. I played for three hours in a few different spots. Sunstreams by Ian Clarke is a favourite. It’s one of the best ever songs written for flute. A guy about my age in a Guns ’n’ Roses tee and heavy boots gave me some change. I think he heard me play the start of Run to Hills by Iron Maiden as a break between classical pieces. I played part of This I Love for him. I think he heard it as he was walking away up down the mile and looked back. I love it when people enjoy music I play.

Busking has helped me get back my love of playing flute. After a five year ihateus I sometimes can’t wait to get playing, and think of all the songs I could learn for busking. It’s getting easier to play. My arms ache less after holding my flute up for hours, and I’m remembering more old songs. My sound is improving. Unlike at school, there is no pressure to be perfect, I just have to be good enough for people passing by to enjoy listening.

SUnday 28th September- More Busking

I got up earlyish, practiced a little then headed out to royal mile. This morning I had put effort into learning the main song from  Frozen. I thought that people would like it, but the general attitude to it was more like, meh. Maybe they’d heard it too many times already. I did get a request from a guy with a 1ft Mohican for a flute rendition of The Dead Kennedys. I put it on my list. I do play some rock music. It’s something I’m working on it. At the moment I playing one of the more melodic songs by Nine Inch Nails, called Losing Hope. It’s slow, sad and beautiful. It’s hard to play angry, edgy stuff on a flute. And something I’ve noticed is that tourists often prefer happy songs. Playing endless mournful stuff won’t earn me much.

I did okay, £10 for about 3 hours. Some of that was spent walking to different pitches. The top of the royal mile seems to be best, but you have to arrive fairly early to get a spot. I thought I’d found a patch until a bagpiper turned up and drowned me out.  Since a flute is a piercing instrument and echoes on the buildings, I don’t need an amplifier. But bagpipes still trump all.

Would I have had the confidence to play in the street in the past, before I went to Johansen IAS & MLC Scotland? Never. My confidence is growing. Even events like yesterday help. It can’t go as badly as that, I think to myself. I’m just starting out at busking, and although I’m not the best street musician there, it’s a relief to probably not be the least skilled.

I wouldn’t have busked in Glasgow. It’s easier to start in a very busking-friendly city, where barely anyone knows you. I suppose that busking actually is a good way for many people to know and recognize you, but I’m doing it because I love music, could do with a little extra money, and want to kill my performance nerves before my first gig as a drummer. It gives my flute a purpose. I love playing to people and seeing some of them smile as they pass. I feel like thanks to the Johansen and MLC therapies, and my fresh start in a new city, old parts of me which I’d forgotten are starting to come back to life.

Off to a friend’s house in the afternoon. We bought some drinks, watched the start of Hot Fuzz and had dinner.

On my way home I passed a homeless man. It’s so sad that people still have to live without shelter, especially in this wealthy country. It makes me angry that life has failed them. I’d given him a little change on my way past, but almost forgot about the big bottle of Mango Rubicon in my bag and went back with it. I probably wouldn’t use it. Maybe he’d like it. When I asked, he said yes, he did want it thanks. He said you’re gorgeous I love you. Not in a creepy way, which is kind of how it sounds here. More like, in return for a litre bottle of mango Rubicon, he wanted to give me the nicest words he could find. I hope his life gets better. He seemed like a nice man and worth writing about.

That’s me written up the last week in one night. I’ve been too busy to write recently! The Gibberish Dictionary website is very neglected.

Now the theme tune of Frozen is stuck in my head. Tomorrow is my first day of a pretty much 9-5 course.

It will be a lot of work, there’s not doubt about that. But I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and chatting with my class. There’s a social side of college I never got near at school. Now I can talk to my friends, hang around with them, hear enough and have the confidence and attitude and energy to be completely included. Before I could hear clearly, it was like every sound and thought was foggy and I had nothing to contribute. Now I’ve been hanging around in a group with my college friends, talking and laughing. Maybe even the odd race on the wheeled common area chairs is in store for me. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

Sunday 21st September- My first Busking session

It was a sunny morning, so I had a quick, very quiet practice in my room, then went out busking. The top end of the royal mile heading towards the castle was very busy with tourists and street performers. Buskers, jugglers, a couple of invisible people wearing suits, a the Most Pierced Woman in the World (who is featured in the Guinness book of records), a floating man dressed as yoda, and some human statues. I moved a few times so not to annoy people, and because my list of music to play is still quite small. I played for about an hour and a half and some people gave me money! A generous woman gave me a two pound coin. Some of the tourists who took a photo of me also put some money in my case.

I think I made about £6.50.

It makes me happy that people enjoyed my music and paid me as a result.

Today there was an anti-climate change march in Edinburgh, so I joined it. We walked (you can’t really think o it as a march with smiling people in colourful clothes, plus their children and pets) along the city centre road and blocked a bus lane. It was fun.

Now I have to clean my bike, make dinner and tomorrow’s lunch, do my laundry and get ready for tomorrow’s garden road trip. We’re going to Dundee, which is quite a long way, but there’s not many people I’d rather be stuck on a bus with.