Sunday, October 21, 2012


Warm and windy (and sunny)!  It was a perfect day to blow my new red Meinl didgeridoo into the public ear.  And in so dooing, I decided my costume to be a Canadian tuxedo (jean jackets and blue jeans) and a black toque. Getting to this momentous day, I had huffed and puffed into my didge for over two hours to finally achieve that basic drone sound -- Lesson One on any how-to-play-the-didgeridoo on any Youtube video.  Practicing a few more hours on Lesson Two, how-to-wobble, I must confess that I still can only wow-wow-wow-wee.   

No matter.  I fancy myself, not as a milquetoast, but as a buskologist with some mettle.  I took my first step, faced my fear, and my consumers loved it!  Several passers by stopped to ask what it was I was playing.  One (and there’s one in every crowd) knew what it was, and offered that he’d heard a didgeridoo player in Australia and that particular didge player had produced the sweetest music on earth!

The background:  The Canadian Winter is coming and I’m not looking forward to strumming my twelve-string or my banjitar in such frigid conditions.  I’ve tried several experiments to compensate for the cold performances, skin-tight woven garden gloves, miniature pocket heaters, three minute intervals alternating strumming and heating, all of which to no practical avail.  Winter busking is a chilling chore, and that is why I bought my didgeridoo!  One can play a didgeridoo wearing mittens and a body wrapped with a winter parka and snow pants.

The first time my didgeridoo arrived for pick-up at the music shoppe, it was a false alarm.  The sales person had inadvertently ordered the one made from bamboo, lovely to behold, but not practical (I had ordered the synthetic one, the guaranteed weather proof edition).  Not strangely, both the bamboo and synthetic versions are the same price, with the same hand-painted designs.  Both are beautifully designed, and both sound the same (at least to me they do).  However, the bamboo didgeridoo is but a gimcrack, compared to the synthetic one, an instrument of high pragmatic value.  Alas, with my new didgeridoo, I can now take control of my winter busks.

Of the hundreds of times I’ve been busking, yesterday was the first day I went stringless.  Everyone knows the quintessential instrument of busking is the guitar, and yesterday I had neither my guitar nor my banjitar.  I had only my new didgeridoo.  I knew from my busking experiences, that to conquer this fear of the unknown instrument, sitting at home and thinking and practicing and thinking and practicing wouldn’t work.  I had to get out and doo it!

To master a new skill takes time.  I’ve read that it takes a dozen years to develop proficiency. Some researchers have strongly suggested that it takes 10,000 hours, or 600,000 mind-minutes to become professionally proficient.  But so what; there is certainly no need for a 12 year or 10,000 hour fuss plan to get out and busk with any instrument.  One of the reasons I love to busk is because … I get paid to practice!     And besides, on this particular huffing busk, I was empirically abiding a self-fulfilling prophecy to my busking advantage.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that comes true just because we are willing to behave in a way that suggests it (whatever it is) is already true. I left my home yesterday believing that I would, as usual on any busk, meet a new bunch of people, and make some money in the whole social process.  I also imagined that I’d be seated sideways on the sidewalk (so as not to interfere with the pedestrian traffic), and wobble guttural drones from my new didgeridoo.  I knew that I could fake it ‘til I made it!  And I did fake and make it, with a public joy through the entire afternoon.

I love being a buskologist – I love to gallivant and gather grist to write about busking.  To be a master busker means to always improve.  To improve means to change, and the goal toward busking perfection (or anything perfection) is to change often.  To be the hyphenate buskologist, I have to be fearless, embrace change, and … 
Just didgeridoo it!           

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