Busking in the U-Bahn…

Yesterday I had a longer saxophone practice session. It’s Easter-time, so everybody’s out of town, it seems. The woman who booked a slot on Fridays, right after my practice slot – didn’t show up. So I stayed longer and instead of the usual 2-hour session, I practiced for three hours straight.

Here’s the plan: I need a nice repertoire of songs which are 1. relatively easy to play (for me, at my current stage of soprano-sax musicianship) 2. sound relatively good without accompaniment and 3. are relatively famous and recognisable by a broad audience.

So far I got following songs on my list: “What a wonderful world”, “Somewhere over the rainbow”, “Strangers in the night”, “Love me tender”, “Michelle”, “Yesterday”, “Feelings” and “Killing me softly”. Ok, I wrote down “Lonely shepherd” as well, but… nah, I’ll skip it for now, until my articulation and air support and vibrato technique get better.

After 3 hours of practice in the practice room, I spontaneously decided to busk in the hallway of a nearby metro station (and test my current repertoire). So I found a nice spot, put the saxophone case on the floor, assembled the sax and started playing “Strangers in the night” 🎶 (the easiest of all, with the least chance of screwing up the melody, squeaking etc.). What a sound! That hallway-reverb is so awesome! This is probably what it would sound like if Frank Sinatra played saxophone 🎷

Yep, busking still feels a bit like begging. I even googled this and there are soooooo many discussions on this topic. Fact is – busking is not begging. But it can be seen as such. It depends, haha 😅

After only a minute or two, some dressed up dude, who looked like he was running late for some fancy date, dropped a fiver in the empty case. “Aw, man. Thank you so much!” I kept playing and subway trains kept rolling in and out… many, many people passed by… some old German lady dropped a coin in the case and asked: “Wo kommen Sie her? Ehm… Where are you from? Hungary? Romania?” And she continued, without giving me a chance to answer: “Können Sie hier arbeiten? Can you find a job here?” And I thought to myself: oh, lady, c’mon – let’s see if we can have all the clichés in less than ten seconds, shall we? And my playing couldn’t have been thaaaat awful, could it?!

After 20 minutes or so, a girl in her twenties stopped for a second, listened and commented: “So beautiful!” Oh, yes! Thank you, young lady! That’s all the confirmation I needed. Ok, and the two, three passer-bys who whistled along “Strangers in the night…” 🎶 haha. Awesome!

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