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Karen Allendoerfer

Music at the Market

July 13, 2007 at 11:35 AM

I've been talking about playing at the Belmont Farmers' Market for weeks, and it finally happened!

I was less nervous than I expected, maybe because I was busy and didn't have time to be nervous. I went straight from work to the market, met some family members there with my viola, played for about 50 minutes, and then gave my viola to my babysitter to take home, got in the car and went camping.

Conditions weren't auspicious at first, rain was predicted and it was cloudy on and off all day. But the sun came out in the mid-afternoon and I had great weather, to the point that I had to find a shady spot next to a tent to play in. The people running the market were very friendly and welcoming, the vendors didn't mind me standing next to them, and as the time went on they became enthusiastic about it.

It wasn't a big shopping crowd, due to the weather and the holiday, but there was a steady stream of customers. A few moms and kids stopped to listen, I made eye contact with a baby who smiled. One woman said "thank you" very quietly and walked away quickly. She seemed to have some personal relationship with the music and be lost in her thoughts. At the time I didn't realize what she had done, but she had walked all the way back to my case (that I hadn't put out in front because this was community service) and put some money in it. An older gentleman asked me if I could play "Coming Back to Sorrento." Unfortunately, I couldn't: I'd never heard of it. (I have now:

If I do this again, I would do a few things differently: 1. I would bring more clothespins to hold the music on the stand. I brought two, based on Anne's recommendation to bring some, but 2 weren't enough. At first my music kept blowing closed or off the stand. It took 1-2 pieces to get the pins and stand positioned so I could concentrate on the music and avoid the wind (mostly). It wasn't that windy--but even a little breeze goes a long way. 2. I wouldn't bring a 4-year-old. The babysitter took the kids to the toy store near the market, but not until after my son spent some time clinging to my leg while I was playing. 3. I would have more music prepared. I played most of my viola repertoire (with the exception of Wohlfahrt and the Telemann concerto) and it took less than half an hour. So I played several pieces twice, to get to 50 minutes. I don't think anybody minded, but I still would like to have more music at the ready.

I would also do many things the same: Unaccompanied Bach, at least in small doses, seemed fine and was well-received. Both vendors on either side of me remarked on the Bach as having been especially nice. Fiddle is also a good choice. I was playing a hornpipe particularly fast, because well, why not, and when I was done, the organizer yelled out "Go, Karen!" She was generally wonderful, very supportive, said I could definitely play again.

I earned a $10 certificate to spend at the market, as well as the $2 in my case that I hadn't expected.

Me and my viola:


Playing it (I look too serious, but I think I was still worried the music was about to blow off the stand):


I want to play again, it went by too fast. And I think I could definitely learn "Coming Back to Sorrento."

From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 12:44 PM
Sorry, I should have said "Many Clothespins". Six is a safe number.

Also, I bet more people would have put $$$ in your case if you had left the four year old clinging to your leg!

From Donna Clegg
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 1:10 PM
Way to go Karen. You look relaxed and as though busking is soooo easy :) I put my music in plastic sheet protectors to give it some stability too.
From Sarah Montoro
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 2:31 PM
hey Karen..
I was wondering do you think it is ok to go busking w/ music? Because my mom wants me to memorize my music.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 2:45 PM
Actually, Anne recommended the plastic sheet protectors too, and I didn't get that far. That probably would have helped.

I wasn't quite ready to go music-less, and I don't think that was so bad in terms of audience interactions. I still could make eye contact with people and talk to them when I wanted to. And I think for my first time out there I just needed the music as a security blanket. (And you can see my son the little leg clinger sitting off to the left in the corner there).

But given the logistics of the clothespins etc., I do think having the music memorized is good goal, so Sara, if you think you can do it and it's not too much effort, go for it!

From Albert Justice
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 2:49 PM
Sarah, I think with or without the music, but memorizing it would be great--I agree with your mom. I personally have become too dependent on music--a new experience for me--to help with the dynamics, bowing, and little reminders I scribble.

So, I'm thinking the best solution would be wait until you have enough repertoire so that your earlier pieces become ok candidates to play--light Bach--etc... But if you would rather play with the music, that's up to you. Talk more with your mom about it--and maybe your teacher.

From Albert Justice
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 2:56 PM
Karen, so what all did you play?
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 2:59 PM
I played:

Planxty Fanny Powers (from Fiddling for Viola)

Hail Columbia (from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook, arranged for viola by yours truly. It was July 5th and I wanted to play something patriotic.)

Sonatina by James Hook (from Solos for Young Violists)

Bach Cello Suite #1 (arranged for viola, Schirmer edition with the yellow cover, of course): Prelude, Allemande, Courante. With all the repeats.

Boston Fancy (American Folk song from Solos for the viola player)

The Belles of South Boston, Cincinnati Hornpipe, and Harvest Home (from Fiddling for viola)--Go Karen!

When Johnny Comes Marching Home (from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook again arranged for viola by yours truly)

Carolan's "Farewell to Music" (from Fiddling for viola)

Shenandoah (from Solos for the viola player)

And then all the Bach, the Hook, Johnny, and Shenandoah again.

I really like the Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook, it has a lot of Americana in it. I bought it on eBay last year when I was reading Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prarie to my daughter. I played her a few of the pieces played by Pa on his fiddle in those books.

According to the songbook, "Hail Columbia," which I didn't really know before, was one of the most popular patriotic songs in the 19th century.

From Rhiannon Schmitt
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 5:02 PM
Woo hoo! Congrats on the busking! I forgot to mention in my article on the subject that if a player does use a music stand I suggest they bring clips for the music. The best clips I've seen, which also look better than clothes clips, and work very well are 4" (enourmous) brass paper clips you can find at most office supply stores.
All the best in your music making!
From Marsha McCoy
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 5:37 PM
I think if Pavarotti & Meat Loaf can perform in front of Princess Diana with the music on a stand in front of them, then it's perfectly fine for you to do so at the market. LOL. Great link. Thanks.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 6:54 PM
Karen, you look and sound like you're having fun. I'd love to try busking, but I haven't yet. My plan would be to play light, happy things, such as jigs, reels, and songs, which I could do without music. For classical music, I use the Classical Fakebook. It is a great resource with about 600 well loved melodies. I have a core set that I use for weddings and parties. I'm encouraged to try it myself after reading your blog.
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on July 13, 2007 at 7:58 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience, Karen! It makes me want to try busking. :) I used to do a fair amount of Celtic fiddling, but I've been shamefully neglecting it lately because of more "important" things (i.e. my classical music). Its so much fun though, I really ought to brush up some tunes.
From Paul Grant
Posted on July 14, 2007 at 9:13 AM
Both you and your viola look very pretty. You'll be playing the Walton and Bartok in no time!
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 14, 2007 at 8:17 PM
There's no such song as Coming back to Sorrento. He lives in Sorrento and he was trying to pick you up.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on July 14, 2007 at 10:01 PM
Congratulations! You are my inspiration. For the first time, I just walked out on my balcony and played to the world (my poor neighbor, to be more accurate) this morning after reading your blog. Someday I’ll go farther.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on July 16, 2007 at 4:39 AM
Very very cool!

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