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When I get off the train on my way home from work, there is often a tenor sax player busking just outside the station. While he is technically solid, he usually just sounds like he is practicing his fingerings - scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. He plays at one volume (loud) and one tempo (fast), no dynamics, no real phrasing, no melodic elements. (So somewhere between boring and annoying to listen to.) I don't give him money, as it feels like he is just practicing, not performing.

But a couple days ago I came out of the station and hey - he was playing something kind of nice - melodic, with some expression to it. I grabbed some quarters from my pocket, and was heading towards his open case to toss them in when he stops playing and waves me off, saying, "No coins, thank you." He didn't say it rudely, but now I am even less likely to give him money. Weird.
 

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When I lived in Kew Gardens I experienced the same strange attitude amongst buskers. On Saturdays sometimes I would take the E train to the city and there was always this group of shirtless boys with a boom box that would get on at the 74th/Roosevelt stop and ride to the WTC. They had a captive audience as we traveled underwater and would basically breakdance on the handles of the packed trains with several bystanders nearly getting roundhouse kicked in several occasions, then they’d go around with a hat that said, “Bills Only,” on the brim. Guys used to clean house, then work their way to the next car between stops. I could never figure out why, as unless the car was nearly empty, their act was pretty poor. Occasionally some douche with a guitar would get on and we’d all roll our eyes. Same thing, no change, just bills. Flushing station used to have an older guy that would play a Shamisen very loudly.
 

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Did he try to say " No coins, Only bills" ? Or he was saying I do not want any kind of payment ?
 

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Did he try to say " No coins, Only bills" ? Or he was saying I do not want any kind of payment ?
Case was open, with one or two bills showing, so I figured he wanted payment. I think he only wanted bills. But you have to do something pretty special for me to pull out my wallet and extract some bills. I will sometimes do that for the guys that show up with a clarinet and a piano(!), and play a wide range of tunes.
 

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I had a panhandler pull that on me once. I put the dollar or two of coins back in my pocket and walked on. Beggars can't be choosers. Not that buskers are beggars. They definitely are not. They are providing something of value.
 

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My buddy and I rake it in pretty good on a busy day. Now that I've got percussion to play along to it gets people more engaged and stopping to check us out for a while. Where as for the many years I just played solo saxophone I'd only have a few people each day want to stop and chat.
 

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I have a different take on this. I've never done any busking, but in general I'd say first of all that buskers aren't beggars. And given they aren't beggars, dropping some loose change in their case is something of an insult. What's a quarter worth? If you can't at least pull out a single dollar bill, don't bother, is my feeling on it.

When my band plays gigs, we get paid, but we still often put out a tip jar and do CD sales. For those of you who also do that, how many of you would appreciate someone who tosses a few nickels & dimes in your tip jar?!
 

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When my band plays gigs, we get paid, but we still often put out a tip jar and do CD sales. For those of you who also do that, how many of you would appreciate someone who tosses a few nickels & dimes in your tip jar?!
I think the original poster, artstove, was referring to a breach of decorum, by the busker, not his inner feelings. Some of us may think very little of someone tossing quarters into the tip jar. Hey, some may even feel belittled by five dollar notes, too. But we will keep it to ourselves, and definitely not stick a 'Bills only' note to the jar.
 

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I have a different take on this. I've never done any busking, but in general I'd say first of all that buskers aren't beggars. And given they aren't beggars, dropping some loose change in their case is something of an insult. What's a quarter worth? If you can't at least pull out a single dollar bill, don't bother, is my feeling on it.

When my band plays gigs, we get paid, but we still often put out a tip jar and do CD sales. For those of you who also do that, how many of you would appreciate someone who tosses a few nickels & dimes in your tip jar?!
My blues band used to hustle tips...The singer would ask for them - We'd have a young lady walk the room with the jar too. I would also pick up the jar once or twice a night, hand it to the nearest table and ask them to pass it around. On a normal night tips were usually north of $100. Well worth the effort. The change we gave to the servers or left in the jar...Our best night was over $600, but a foreign diplomat paid us $500 to play another set.
 

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What about Susan B Anthony dollars?
 

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I have a different take on this. I've never done any busking, but in general I'd say first of all that buskers aren't beggars. And given they aren't beggars, dropping some loose change in their case is something of an insult. What's a quarter worth? If you can't at least pull out a single dollar bill, don't bother, is my feeling on it.
Hmmmm...I agree with 95% of your posts here, but I vehemently disagree with THIS.

You know ....when a busker goes outside and plays, he/she is really relying upon the kindness and courtesy of strangers willing to recognize that what he/she is playing may have some value or provide some sort of contribution to the everyday grind, in that particular context.

In my eyes....the insult is TO the person who intends to drop some change into the case and is waved off or told that their coinage is not acceptable.

That's just a sh#t attitude on display. A very small %age of folks actually are willing to drop anything into a busker's case...when someone does...when someone is willing to recognize what you are doing there - have the fooookin' gratitude to accept it, and show some damn decorum.

(I am not being facetious or writing with hyperbole - I am dead serious).
 
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