Thursday, December 11, 2014

Professionals Or Not, Buskers Are Here To Stay

Most Singaporean buskers make some money on a good day and while some can make more than others, they are not a pitiful lot. They have homes to go back to, families to look after them and usually a comfortable sheltered spot to sing their song or do their acrobatic tricks.

I would sometimes, with my wife and elder grandson walk the streets of Orchard Road, the corners of wet markets, the underpasses at shopping malls and the corridors of some apartments and look out for them. In later years the underground stations at MRT areas would even be allowed.  And they would be around, morning, noon and night, to entertain.

And with some great luck I even met a few familiar faces from the 1960's and 1970's music scene along the way, especially on the great corridors of Orchard Road where busking is the premiered place, well-respected and regarded. 

So what's it about our Singapore buskers? Here are some comments from regular readers of this blog. 

Gathering information from blog readers:

Victor says:

More buskers appearing on the streets could possibly mean that it is getting harder to make a living in Singapore, especially for people who are "past their prime" or have some sort of disability. Even in busking, competition is tough. I find that disabled people usually fare better in collections regardless of how well they perform in busking.

February 1, 2010 12:40 am

Andy says...
I can agree with your view but I have seen younger people busking, although not all of them are musicians. One busker I spoke to says he can earn $50.00 or more in a good evening. Some have no disabilities at all. Again a Chinese acrobatic team I have seen in front of Ngee Ann Shopping Mall are definitely more agile and able-bodied than you and I.

But I like music buskers when they sing and play 60's music as it takes me back to the good ole carefree days. One chap at the Lido Cinema and Wheelock Place underpass sings Cliff Richard and Elvis too, accompanied by his guitar.

February 1, 2010 9:36 am

Roger says...
At the same place I spotted another busker, an elderly, wiry Chinese guy entertaining the crowd at the Food Centre near the bus interchange.

February 2, 2010 2:14 am

Andy says...
There must a lot of them in Singapore. They will probably be sprouting all over the island these few years - more and more. I am wondering if our 60's music people are really in bad shape? I know at least some of them are. Anyone with figures/statistics to prove?

February 2, 2010.

The buskers have spread out and with blessings from the National Environment Agency (NEA) Singapore hawker centres (food centres) have their share of buskers since it became official in August 2005. 

They are also allowed to keep what they earn. Apparently buskers make the places more vibrant and provide a platform for people to play music. There are about 112 hawker centres in Singapore and buskers can be seen at quite a number of them.

One lady busker who plays 60's music is Ms Low Geok Lan, 52 a former taxi-driver. She has been busking for 6 years now and is versatile enough to play the mouth-organ (harmonica) and an eletronic organ (keyboard). 

When I spoke to her at the Whampoa Hawkers' Centre one evening, she said that she was taking piano lessons at a reputable music school to improve her skill. She dug into her bag and showed me her music sheets and paraphernalia.

So as we go one full circle with this posting, Victor's question is relevant when he asks if it is harder for people to make a living in Singapore?

An Original Article by Andy Lim.

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