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The Delights of a Farmer's Market
My Background as a market musician
I have been a "market musician" for three years, now.I play my flute every saturday of the summer season. I have accompaniment and play for as long as I can- usually two to three hours. I put my basket out and people drop money in. I usually make between $40 to $50 dollars. But, besides the monetary reward, I am filled with wonderful encounters with the public.
Musicians and Vendors
Our Market has a large number of crafters. Produce is just becoming ripe and fruits and vegetables are in strong supply. Musicians turn up to try out their expertise on others. There is no charge for musicians to participate. Sometimes children show up to make a little spending money. I have seen child ukelele players and singers and violinists. This is a great way for kids to get their practicing in and earn some money at the same time.
I have found that the money I make is not the only great thing about the market. The icing on the cake is when I make contact with people- especially children. Yesterday a little boy, not more than three, was strolling by as I finished a song. He burst into spontaneous applause.
A little girl ran to me saying "Ma'am, ma'am." I thnk your singing is pretty." She was a sweet little blonde. One time two little girls in fairy wings danced on and on to my music.
There was a boy there yesterday who looked to be about 12. I wondered if he was listening because, at first glance , he looked like the athletic type. He wore a baseball cap turned backwards and had an unusually grown-up face. I thought he probably went out for baseball and didn't care for music. I started playing old Disney songs, and I saw him sway to the rhythm a little bit. As I got into other tunes he began to jiggle and dance. He was obviously enjoying the music.
"Are you a musical kid?" I asked. "Do you play an instrument?" "No," he replied."Well, you obviously like music. You should play piano or something....or even drums." He smiled and said, "I think I will try drums."
Last year I met a teenager who told me he loved my music. When I questioned him about his own music he said that he was tone deaf. I told him not to believe it, but to just try. I said he should try to learn an instrument. He had some friends, he said, who wanted to teach him piano. I encouraged him to take them up on that.
Short encounters with people can add something to your life and theirs. Sometimes the encounters are more lasting. A woman approached me and reminded me she had had a cherry stand right next to me last year. We had struck up a small friendship and now she was renewing it. She and her four boys own a cherry farm and every year the boys help to harvest and sell the cherries.
The same happened with the "Bee man" as I call him. He waved to me as I passed by yesterday. I was stationed across from his honey stand last year. He had loaned me a portable heater on the days it was really cold.
Hints for Performers
If you would like to participate in a Farmer's Market, I have some suggestions for you.
- Hint number one is to get to the market early. Sometimes too many show up and there isn't enough room for them all.
- Hint number two is to wear a hat. Shading yourself from the summer sun is important.Sunglasses and sun screen are important, too.
- Hint number three. Take some clips to hold your music in place when the wind blows. Clothes pins or potato chip bag clips are good.
- Hint number four is to take accompaniment. A lonely flute is not nearly as much fun as a flute played to an accompaniment. Buy music that comes with an accompaniment CD. (sheetmusicplus.com is a good place to find music.) I transfer these to my computer and then to my iPod. I have small speakers that do a great job of magnifying the sound.(I purchased these online at Apple. They were only about $50 and are very good quality.)
Finding a Farmer's Market.
Most towns and cities have a farmer's market. I go to the Provo, Utah market and there are many in nearby towns. Check with your city government or the Chamber of Commerce to find one near you.
Performing at these venues is a fun and rewarding experience. I encourage one and all to participate.