Friendships are one of the key things that is generated as a result of the School of Busking. As anyone who has ever attended the School of Busking will testify that our commitment to them doesn’t end at the end of the course. As a result, we have stayed in touch with students over the years and now we receive regular updates from some. Some have returned to the School and others have become good friends.
Right now, we are receiving blogs from students who have gone on to great, wonderful things since they attended the focus. Nick Stein, has written one such blog and he has become an incredible street performer, a strong close-up magician, and a great entertainer. Here is his blog about his experience about the School with some excellent tips at the end. Do enjoy and please do comment, share the blog and let’s get a conversation going. Mario Morris
My Experience of the School of Busking Nick Stein
It was a regular afternoon at the office and I was desperately seeking some distraction from the menial desk tasks at hand. My usual escape from this black hole of boredom was to practice whatever new magic effect I was working on at the time. On this occasion, I had left my deck of cards at home… IDIOT!
I decided to scroll through the never ending holy grail of procrastination and meaningless distraction that is my Facebook news feed. It was here that a small post caught my eye: “ the School Of Busking”. As a hobbyist magician at the time, I had already been researching any means in which I could apply my skills to start my career in entertainment. Alas, it seemed to be a pipe dream at the time. There was that time in Covent Garden, though…. That guy who was surrounded by hundreds of transfixed onlookers watching him do his thing… I remembered how surprised I was that no one walked away at the end. I found myself reaching into my pocket to tip the guy. He was worth it, no doubt about it, but I was still surprised at how many people were pushing and shoving, literally fighting to pay the man. The School of Busking… hmm. Sounded pretty cool and self-explanatory but… really? Only one way to find out… Click…. BAM…When I arrived at The School of Busking, two things became very obvious, very quickly. The first was that some people on the course seemed like they had been doing this for years already. Gulp… the second, however, was that everyone was awesome. I don’t mean awesome skill. I mean just awesome people. I can honestly say I met some of the best people I know that afternoon. Mario and Veronica were super kind, likable and warm hearted. It became instantly apparent that this was going to be quite a ride. It turned out that in fact, hardly anyone there had ever turned their hand to street performance. Some of them had indeed been performing in other areas for a while but had not yet broken into the busking market. It was a real mix of people from all over the world but what we all had in common was that all of us were there to learn how to busk. There were acrobatics, musicians, magicians, jugglers – it doesn’t matter what you do, the basics of busking remain the same.
Enter Mario Morris – After welcoming us and outlining the weekend’s itinerary Mario delivered what I can only describe as an encyclopedic Monster lecture on the art of street performing. From how to gather a crowd to molding them into an audience, how to construct a good show, how to pick the correct pitch to work on, how to hat the audience so they actually WANT to pay you. He covered costuming, holding the audience’s attention, voice projection, equipment, how to travel smart, how to work with a partner, changing accents, developing your character, where to change money, licensing laws and regulations, how to deal with the council and other authorities, how to work abroad etc etc etc. Mario also shared stories from his street performing career which also had a wealth of knowledge hidden inside them.
There were also plenty of hands-on parts to the School. We were physically shown how to build a crowd from nothing and also worked one to one on routines for our first show.
After a weekend literally rammed with information that will stay with you for the entirety of your busking career we took to the streets to perform our first ever street show. After we all had a go, we reconvened back at HQ and were given a constructive critique on our performance to round everything off.
I loved every second. I have been a street performer ever since and it is my full time “job”. I met some inspirational people and life long friends. The School Of Busking was not only an essential education but also more fun than I could put into words. I am proud to have taken part, I am grateful to have met such incredible people and I can only say go for it to anyone thinking about giving street performance a shot. One last point, This is not just for beginners and newbies. Even if you have been busking for a while and are looking for a way to improve this is the perfect training ground to get better!
Here are some of my own philosophies on busking for people to adapt or disregard as they please 🙂 I don’t claim any as my own or as original, they are simply thoughts and ideas I live by.Stick at it, you can only improve if you continue to work at it.
- Don’t chase the money, chase the applause/laughter as it pays you better in more ways than one.
- Once a month do a show for free. Decide which show it is going to be BEFORE and no matter how big and how successful it turns out to be stick to your promise and do this one for the love of the show and not for the money. If you know this one is a freebie, you perform differently as you are not working for the money, you are performing for the love of performing. You’ll create better material this way and remind yourself at least once a month that it’s not just another job, its a choice and you love it… this is important as earning cash in hand every day can be a bit overwhelming and addictive in my opinion and I have watched too many talented people lose sight of the art for fear of losing sight of the hat.
- Always remember there will be rainy days so work hard on the sunny ones.
- Get to the pitch before anyone else and be the last to leave.
- Your hatline is your show, I have watched immensely talented performers pull off amazing shows and make nothing. People love watching shows but they need to be reminded and in many cases educated about how we work. if you have a good hat speech it will see you through to your retirement 😉
- Remind yourself that it is the crowd that gets the crowd you only have to stop one person.Wishing you the best of luck and fat hats
Wishing you the best of luck and fat hats