I've had the opportunity this summer to hold a job that includes playing trombone, being self-employed, and earning around 18 dollars an hour. To the amazement of myself and others, this “job” is street performing.
I am still pleasantly surprised by the positive reactions I have received on my journey so far. Although most people express appreciation in the form of an old dollar bill or loose change, there have certainly been more interesting encounters. My first noteworthy experience involves meeting Marines who suggested I look into the Marine Corps Band. That same night, I was playing in front of some bars on the streets of Portland when a guy asked me if I wanted to play with his band in 5 minutes. I showed up to the gig and had so much fun playing (what turned out to be) really good music!
Another gift that street performing has provided me is free lessons from anybody who feels like giving me them. There have been lots of people (who do not appear to have formal education in music) who tell me how I should play the trombone. This actually ends up being very fun in the end. I believe one man told me “you should make it sound more loud and obnoxious”. All in all, it's fun to put out the sound that people want to hear, and often challenging!
Another fun experience is that sometimes street performers will even join in with each other and have a little jam-out session. I often feel a sense of community in this “business”. I believe the first time I felt like I was a part of this little community was when two older woman approached me and asked for a photograph with me. I asked why, and they explained that they were on a scavenger hunt across America. One of the things they had to do was get a photo taken with a street performer. Another odd experience I had was getting a business card from the trombone and jazz professor from the University of Montana. In fact, I've received plenty of business cards, and not all pertain to music (which is also always interesting). Conversations with the homeless, entertaining young kids, and talking about music with people all seem to be fun aspects of it all. Honestly, I wouldn't have any other job and I look forward to the unique experiences that are still yet to come.
Amanda Bloss is entering her second year as a music education major at UMaine.