Anyway, while I was in Newark, there was a guy who approached me and pulled out his harmonica. He asked if he could join and I said sure. I was playing ‘I’m Still Standing’ at the time and his harmonica didn’t seem to be in the same key as my backing music. He tried to talk to me for a bit while I was playing and I could smell the alcohol on his breath so I knew not to pay too much attention to him. After the song finished, he asked me how long I’d been playing violin for. I said ‘about 25 years.’ He was like, ‘Huh? No I said how long have you been playing that thing for’ (as he pointed to my violin). I repeated my answer. He asked me the same thing a third time and again I gave him the same answer. In disbelief he said I must’ve started when I was a baby. I said, ‘no I’m older than you think I am.’ (I get this all the time).
There were some teenage boys sitting nearby and one of them interrupted (after we told each other our ages). One boy told me I suck and the old man plays way better than me. I figured he was just trying to wind me up, so I shrugged my shoulders and said ‘Cool story bro.’ I started to play some tunes and the man wanted to join in again. He couldn’t keep up so he kept trying to talk to me as I was playing. Eventually he went away as I started to ignore him.
I think I need to make a sign that says I’ve been playing for about 25 years and busking for 10 years. No, I’m not a student, I teach violin. No, I’m not associated with the violin school or the university. I think that would save me having to answer the same old questions all the time! Ha! On the other hand, looking young may be working to my advantage?
Any ideas on keeping hecklers and alcoholics away? Write your thoughts in the comments below!
Serena Smith is an American British violinist and fiddle player. I play full time as a street musician in addition to the live gigs I perform with several bands.