Tag Archives: tin whistle

To be a wandering minstrel, O

Tin whistle on flat cap

Too Big To Fail?

If I were guaranteed not to fail, I’d be a wandering minstrel. I’d travel the world with my tin whistles, my kazoo, my collection of odd, slightly childish, percussion instruments and my ukulele, bringing music to the masses. I’m hoping that ‘not failing’ in this context doesn’t just mean being good, that it means actually being able to make a living (or at least getting bed and board).

I can see myself now, dancing down a cobbled lane way in a medieval city in Europe, entrancing the crowds with my dextrous tin whistle tootling. Eurovision, eat your heart out!

So why have I never tried this before? Well, for one I’m pretty much a hack as a musician. I’m of the minimal practice school – whenever I think about practicing, something else seems more attractive (pruning trees, washing dishes…). Also I’m not sure I could skip all day, and I’m pretty sure minstrels prance and skip (or at least they do in whatever stereotype I’m thinking of). And although tin whistles sound fantastic when played well (and within the context of Celtic music), I’m pretty sure a solo tin whistle is up there with pan-pipe CDs in terms of lack of coolness.

Also, in our day and age, I’m pretty sure minstrel is code for busker, and busking doesn’t seem very attractive once you pass the age of fourteen. It seems like a lot of hard work for not much money and some dirty looks, and mostly just being ignored. And I’m pretty sure even the income of a successful wandering minstrel would not pay for me to travel beyond my own city.

Then there are the clothes. Somewhere I picked up the idea that a minstrel has to wear some sort of court jester’s padded clothes, and shoes that have toes that curl up. I’m not sure I could go around all day saying ‘Forsooth, dear listener’ or such, and bowing in a courtly manner. Perhaps I watched too many Danny Kay movies in my childhood?

So, if it really was fail-proof, I’d travel the world sharing my musical ditties and piping my way around the streets to the joy of all, but somehow I think I may have missed the minstrel boat…don’t leave your day job, as they say 😉

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