During chat shows, radio interviews, podcasts and newspaper interviews I’ve often been asked why did I create the School of Busking?
A short response would be because I saw the need.
A More Elaborate Response
In other words, if you wanted to learn how to become a street performer you had to do it the old school way of getting out, hit the cobbles and learn step by step how to attract a crowd keep a crowd, turn that crowd into your audience and ultimately get them to respond and tip you at the end.
No easy task if you didn’t have a good mentor or know where to start. My approach was to travel to well known busking cities with a pocketful of (back then) £1 notes and a notepad and pencil and study street performers. I would literally sit on the cobbles taking notes on how they attracted their crowds, entertained and how it all led to a grand finale and ultimately the hat.
My First Street Show
Slowly I began to piece together my ideas for my street magic show.
Taking my show onto the streets was a test of endurance! The first two years was like head butting a brick wall. Fail after fail, flat hat after flat hat. If it wasn’t for my sheer determination to make it as a Street performer I would have given up after the first few shows.
Breaking in a Pitch
What made my first street shows even more difficult was that I was working pitches that nobody else had been working on as opposed to a pitch with a history of performing. Only years later did I discover that this was a true achievement – known amongst my peers as “breaking a pitch in.”
Rarely done amongst the modern-day busker because it’s seldom a fast route to a fat hat. Breaking a pitch in – is not surviving a weekend of Busking on an unknown pitch. No, breaking a pitch in takes months if not years to achieve and takes constant presence.
It means educating the public with your street performing presence, along with educating shop owners, city centre managers, town hall officials and police.
This is not a fast track to fat hats, so most buskers understandably seek out established pitches. I guess back then if I knew better perhaps I would have done the same. These days, Cardiff city centre is full of performers – when I started I was the only one on the street.
Hence my passion for sharing my knowledge and skills with others and so the School of Busking was founded in 2006.
Nowadays the School of Busking has grown into a dedicated team of doing just that.
This year we are working closely with my good friend Chris Williams from Magic Bar Live in Llandudno. Chris is paving the way for us with officials and doing some groundwork for this year’s Street theatre and Busking focus 6th, 7th and 8th of May 2022.
Teaching and Busking around the World
Over the years we have taken the School of Busking to other locations.
A great example of this is, we have been teaching and training the art of busking for over a decade, with my good friend Jeff McBride and his world-famous Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas for ten years straight. Yes, that’s right – Vegas baby, possible the most intense street pitches in the world.
The School of Busking has never forgotten its roots. and as a principle and a fact, we have always taught and encouraged students and that is no better way of learning street performing than going out there and doing it.
“The more you go out and experience street theatre for yourself, the more you will get out of the School of Busking Training focuses”.
How things have changed!
Now, we have the internet and there are so many resources focused around the area of this fine art you would be wise to learn from a lot of them.
Hence this brings us back to the question of why I founded the school of busking in 2006. It was primarily to bring busking and Street theatre to places where there was little going on or none at all with exception of Las Vegas.
The Greenhouse Effect
With that as a backdrop, the School of Busking creates an excellent greenhouse learning effect for the aspiring performer. From the novice performer to the experienced. We have had students coming to our focuses from all over the world. Some return annually because there are always new things to learn or new skills to hone in on.
You see, no one has ever graduated from The School of Busking, same as no one ever graduates from learning as a street performer. As a qualified coach and mentor, I’m in for the long haul.
There is an old street performer saying which I’ve found to be true.
“You can take the street performer of the streets but you can’t take the streets out of that performer.”
You will discover by learning this craft, it is transferable to any field of theatre and for general life skills for that matter.
Here to help
Master Street Performer, Comedy Magician and founder of the School Of Busking
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