This "request" was on a list in a book I was reading called "It was on Fire When I Lay Down on It" by Robert Fulghum of things you really should do (kind of like commandments but not quite). "7. And give money to all street musicians."
There's this bagpipe player who stands outside Abravanel Hall after symphony productions and plays his heart out. Eric happens to be Scottish and LOVES the bagpipe. He always throws money in this man's case. As we walked home after the symphony one night, he told me he wants bagpipes played at his funeral. "Whatever," I said. Not very reverent, but it was "duly noted" in my mind and we walked on. A couple minutes later, Eric decided to jaywalk and I can't exactly remember what happened but there was a car and a close call, and I told Eric I could head back over now and ask the guy if he did funerals.
A couple months later, as Bianca, Portia, our neighbor friend Hannah (who was staying with us that weekend), and I were leaving from the Nutcracker at the Capitol Theatre, there was a man just outside on the sidewalk. His beard was as bushy as a squirrel's tail and he looked homeless, but he was holding a cello, bowing back and forth with his frozen fingers peeking out of his gloves, playing Jingle Bells. This time it was me, digging through my purse for money. Bianca wanted to put the money in his pile. She wanted to give him more, but I only had so much to pay for parking at the garage. It made me wonder about this guy who was playing a cello on the street. The cello isn't a cheap instrument to get into. What had happened in his life that he stood there on the street and played his pretentious cello in the most humble circumstances, in 15 degree snowy nights?
Last week, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this very same street musician named Eli highlighted in an article about Christmas. It made me smile to see his face again. Bianca and I both watched the video. I cried a little.
I don't typically give to random people asking for money, but street musicians are working for what they get. They're doing their part. I get to hear their music, so giving a buck or two here and there is just my part.