Monday, October 22, 2012

The passion behind the music (Part 1 of 5): Playing for Change

A musician friend of mine in California -- Steen Berrig, a mean blues harp player -- sent me a link recently to a blog post at Sonoma Music Scene, titled "Tips or beer ... do we play for free?"  It talks about the challenges that talented musicians have in making a living (or any money at all, for that matter) doing what it is that they love:  playing music.

How many musicians out there devote hour after hour to their greatest passion in life, through practice or performance time, in order to entertain us or just to make people's day a bit brighter, and do it for so little in return?  How many other professions out there require that same kind of time, and how many of those professionals would be willing or expected to give so much for so little, as much as musicians seem to be expected to do?  But they still do it, and it's their passion for that musical gift that makes them do it.

The blog article that Steen passed along to me reminded me of street musicians, displaying their talents on so many sidewalks in so many areas around the world, with instrument cases or cups or cans or hats sitting out for passers-by to toss coins or paper currency into if they feel so inclined.  If we live in a fairly populated area, the street musician is easy to find.  Many of them are truly gifted.

How much time out of our busy day are we willing to spend to pay attention to what it is that they're doing?  How much time out of our busy day are we willing to spend to just stop for a minute or two and enjoy what's being provided for us?  Do we reward them, or are we more likely to save that spare change in our pocket for a candy bar to satisfy our taste buds?

How much are we willing to pay to those who enrich our lives in such subtle ways, as musicians do?  Or are we content to have them just "play for change?"

This is a week dedicated to those with so much passion and talent for music that they end up "playing for change."

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