Posts Tagged ‘Tom Ward’

In the previous posts I was mostly talking about the galleries, festivals and exhibitions. But what if you are just walking down the street and do not have time for going to the gallery? Where can you expereince art in this case?

In my opinion, musicians on the Sydney’s streets: in the parks, in the central squares, on the alleys, almost everywhere, make Sydney even more dynamic from a cultural and artistic perspective. Walking down Market Street or Pitt Street Mall, I can nearly smell music and feel it in every cell of my body. I can stand for quite a time and listen to their music, some of them are really great musicians the others are amateurs. But, honestly, sometimes you come across people which have no sence of music and having graduated from a music school I really want to give them a strong advice that it is a good idea to train before the actual perfomance.

Usually passersby do not pay much attention to the musicians or just cast a glance at them. So I think, the only people who stop on the streets are people who really want to listen.

Musician on the street

Tom Ward

Recently, I saw a crowd gathering around a really outstanding musician within just 3 minutes. All these individuals became an instant community, connected by the love of music. Imperceptibly, music appeals to every gender, every age group and every culture – there is hardly an exception. Music, played on the streets of Sydney, is tremendously diverse. It suits every single taste, the same song touches different feelings and provokes various associations: laugh, smile, tears or melancholy. As a consequence, musicians get different responses from people. I have witnessed a case when one man decided to drop his pants and dance around in the middle of everyone for a while (he had underpants though).

I have never thought that people respond to music so differently until I asked musicians about their own experience. “It depends what time is it. If it is late at night on a Saturday night they usually dance. But I have been given Mexican hats, have been kissed a few times, I have even got some phone numbers.” says Tom Ward.

It does not really matter for someone who loves music where to play, unless it does not rain. “The location is not important for me what I take serious is my music” Sereo Leblanc, a guitarist who has played on the streets for 7 years. However, some people think that street musicians just distract and that it is not a real music. Once, someone walked pass Leblanc and said “Get a real job”. Music can even enhance a special moment. For example, once when Ward was playing at Circular Quay, a man came and requested something romantic. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend. When the music started to play, the man asked his future wife to marry him, and five people started crying. The music drew strangers into a very touching moment and connected them to the couple and to each other. Everyone was moved.

I wondered why these talented musicians play on the streets, when most have a musical education, a job and perform and record their own music. Asking musicians, I had various answers and reasons. “Playing on the streets gives me an opportunity to play to people who never go to a concert like homeless people or people who really love it” says Ward. This people cannot afford to go to the Opera House and spent one hundred dollars on a ticket, not even 20 dollars on a ticket. But they love live music and they want to enjoy it with all their hearts”. What is more, “Between the concerts I need to practice and it gives me an opportunity to improvise and get some repertoire” adds talented guitarist. Of course it also is about money and selling disks, promoting your music. Most of the street musicians don’t earn their living from playing on the streets but they can practice and understand that their creative work can be rewarded.

What musicians play directly affects their income. People prefer well-known songs, dance songs or the one they can sing along with. There is hardly someone who enjoys Chopin, Bach or Tchaikovsky for more than thirty minutes. “Playing repertoire for a competition, I make a quarter of the money I would made playing show pieces” exclaims Ward. “But it’s ok as long as people enjoy and listen”.

I can’t imagine Sydney without its magnificent atmosphere made by musicians from all over the world playing different instruments. It is so exciting to listen to music which seems to be wild in some way and appealing in the other. So music and art follow you everywhere in Sydney and you can experience them even on the streets.

Go out and start experiencing right now!