123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Busk a Move

So, I've been writing songs and playing my geetar for nearly 10 years now, and you'd think it would get easier to play in front of people, but it really, really hasn't. I mean, not for nothing, I'm a minimalist guitar player, but I sing pretty well and I like writing my little story-songs, though I have a hard time putting myself out there, as the kids say.

My dear Adelka Ann has told me that it's selfish of me not to share because my voice uplifts people. Megan Jane has graciously assumed the role of publicity manager, extolling my talents from coast to coast. Kirstin said I am every bit as good as Jessica Lea Mayfield, which I still think is a bit of a hyperbole, but the thought of that made me feel squishy inside.

In short, every single one of my fambly members and friends has stood behind me in support.

And still, I get knock-kneed and freaked out at the thought of playing music in front of people. It's not that I don't think I'm talented; it's that I get worried that other people won't think I'm talented and they'll walk away shaking their heads going, "What a hack. Poor thing actually thinks she sounds good."

I know, I KNOW -- I don't understand me, either.

So, this weekend, I decided enough was enough. I packed up my ax, yanked myself by the collar and headed to downtown Cleveland. I parked my guitar case about a block away from Jacob's Field (I'll never call it Progressive Field. NEVER!) and … just played. In front of strangers. Like they do in the movies.

So random.

There's an actual name for it: busking. To busk is to do street performances, generally music, but I've seen buskers who did back flips and puppet shows, so I think there's a lot of room for interpretation.

Even though the Indians lost, people were still so nice. And they stopped to listen and nod and give me compliments and drop monies in my case. I started to realize that I was getting paid to 1) conquer my fear and 2) practice. Yawesome!

I got $22 in a little more than an hour.

But, I still felt dumb the entire time. And awkward. And worried about what people were thinking of me. Those are the things I'm working to overcome.

So, I am going to keep taking to the street stage until I do, until I haven't an ounce of fear left, until I feel confident walking into a coffee shop or tavern or farmer's market and saying, "Hey, I'd like to play music here."

Because, seriously, who wants to work in financial publishing forever?

In the Comments section, tell me what you are afraid of. I am obviously not afraid of sentences that end with a prepositional phrase.

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  • At 12:39 PM , Anonymous P. said...

    You are my hero. In my fantasy world, I walk into an empty square and start singing. The fantasy also involves people being miraculously drawn to the sound of my wondrous voice. (I don't have a voice of any kind, nor do I play an instrument, but this is a fantasy so I figure it's ok). Anyway, it's so hard to offer yourself to others! You are very brave to keep at it.

    I am afraid of most things that count and completely unafraid of things that don't.

  • At 1:37 PM , Blogger Janine said...

    I'm afraid of bears, tornados, public speaking, heights, bridges and sometimes I'm afraid of myself.

    I'm so glad you're busking. The other day I saw a bagpiper, girl playing an accordian and another guy with a japanese instrument (forget the name) all sharing one block. It's was awesome.

    PS. Accordian girl had a short skirt on. I'm sure you don't need to stoop to such antics, however, FYI just in case.

  • At 2:18 PM , Blogger Eddie said...

    "Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."

    Steven Pressfield from "The War of Art".

  • At 8:36 AM , Blogger Kristin said...

    I was just listening to one of your songs this morning on the way to work. I like you but I sure as heck wouldn't do that if I didn't like your singing, too.

    I'm scared that I'm going to die tomorrow and even more that I'll live to be 105 and have regrets, that I won't do or be everything I want. So I keep trying.

  • At 10:07 AM , Blogger country roads said...

    That's wonderful Val! I can't imagine doing something like that. It makes me horribly nervous even thinking about it.

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