Happily Humbled in Lugano, Day 4

The airplane gods saw to it that I remained in Lugano an extra day. One more day of busking, then, so financially a net positive day. Can’t complain overmuch.

Today, I finally debuted Ysaye on the streets. Over a year since I had it polished enough to play at Fatty’s Bar in Bangkok, it had since deteriorated rather sharply in quality. I tried resurrecting it rather quickly, spurred especially on by the Romanians (who left). I played movement 1 twice to the tune of three tips. It’s a 2 minute movement. As expected, people respond to flashiness. I played sloppily and with many mistakes. People can be so disappointing sometimes. Play a popular tune and they tip. Play something flashy and they tip. Play something “ethnic” and they tip. I must decide how much I want to make money and how much I want to make music. A balance of my own making. I won’t play Ysaye. Nor will I play Wonderwall or the theme from the Godfather. I suppose those are my outer limits.

Back to the pitch. I enjoyed myself out there and was able to disregard the tip flow. I received hardly any for the first half hour. Then a lovely nine year old-ish boy in a Swiss flag shirt ran back, sent by his parents at the top of the stairs, to tip me, smiling, out of breath and shy, and the flow began. Today more women tipped, for the first time in Lugano. Girls in pairs. A few men with bravos. My vocal songs met with little success. My throat felt scratchy and raw, due to the unending chain smoking of the Swiss in all public areas. I had a funny thought that I need to wear my pollution mask here. About half of the time, an elderly man with a poster of some kind stood nearby. He left just before I finished playing and tipped me five francs.

I like how the Swiss aren’t embarrased, afraid, or shy about tipping. They take their time to stop and count out precisely how much they want to give.

My second pitch, though it garnered the same earnings, more or less, felt entirely different. While the first went sedately, with a very light flow of passersby, and I played slow pieces to suit, the second had a lot more… motion to it. For instance, I began with Ashokan Farewell – a waltz. I played Horse Racing and Ysaye twice each. For this last pitch in Lugano, many of my tippers hung about surreptitiously at the edge of my vision to listen. The old man’s relief, two middle aged women, packed up near the beginning of this second foray and passed me a Jehovah’s Witness brochure (in Italian, because I stubbornly requested it) . They said some wonderful stuff about how I must have a beautiful soul and angels must be watching over me and speaking through me due to how I play. A very nice way to start to play.

I received one other absurdly flattering compliment about half an hour later, from a man who likened me to his friend Stephane Grappelli, possibly the most renowned jazz violinist ever. We shared a nice uplifiting conversation. A pair of darkly tanned absurdly pretty children ran back to me laughing with huge huge grins that implied to me that they’d just convinced their mother to allow them to tip. I noticed today in particular that passersby are very interested in my face, probably to check my gender. This amuses me. Here are the remaining tippers (I am too tired to write well today. Too much Airplane God muckery of late):

A gently smiling black lady
A man who tipped and stood by the stairs to listen
A girl peeking from the steps to the platform.
A girl lingering at the top of the stairs down towards town.

I can’t concentrate. Too many Filipinas and Nigerians speaking unquietly in this internet cafe.

Earnings: 56,55 CHF + 0,46€, 2.3 hours

One thought on “Happily Humbled in Lugano, Day 4

  1. How very nice for me to have a new entry to read so soon. It requires so much less effort for me to read than for you to write. With all these myriad of encounters, it seems children are the nicest of them all.


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