23 July 2010

The Great Busking Experiment of 2010

(BTW - I'm following the free lessons on busking available through www.buskerworld.com.  These blog entries are using the lessons as a jumping-off point.)

Where does my confidence as a performer come from, and will that confidence exhibit itself once I'm on the sidewalk?

I think it may stem from a deep understanding that I have nothing to lose from performing.  Before embarking on some new adventure, I consider the best case and worst case scenarios.  I know full well that the worst and the best rarely--if ever-- happen.

I've gone up on lines, I've forgotten lyrics and chords in the middle of a song, I've been heckled.  I've run afoul of authority and I've said some things on the fly that I have regretted.  On the other hand, I've held an audience, I've nailed a song, and I've thrown in the exact right line at the exact right moment.

Knowing what can go wrong and what can go right allows a person to relax.  Tension is caused by the unknown.  It's the "fight or flight" instinct queuing up psychologically and physically, ready to send you into the thick of things or through the nearest window.  There's an observation a character makes in The Usual Suspects which is quite apt:
First day on the job, you know what I learned? How to spot a murderer. Let's say you arrest three guys for the same killing. You put them all in jail overnight. The next morning, whoever's sleeping is your man. You see, if you're guilty, you know you're caught, you get some rest, you let your guard down. 
Not to say that artists are murderers -- although I have killed in the past -- the point is when you know the stakes and know what cards you hold, you can let go of the "fight or flight" business and just let the flow happen.

The audience identifies with the performer onstage.  If the performer is relaxing into it, going great guns, so too will the audience relax and become enraptured by the performance.

I need to mine my busker friends for their experiences; the horror stories and the fish tales.