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I Hope You Don’t Mind…

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He sat on a short stool in the entrance of a high-end jewelry shop after it had closed for the day playing his guitar. He was singing the Elton John classic Levon. I love hearing the sound of a single guitar and singer doing smooth songs like that. So since I was walking the through the area by myself, I decided to stop a few shops down from him and act like I was intensely Twittering so that I could take a moment just to enjoy the music. I don't know what it is about music like this that gets me. But I couldn't help but to think that it connects to something inside for a lot of people, because this guy was making some pretty good money as people strolled by. Since I was out there so that I could observe my Evangelism class during their final 'evangelism lab' (a fancy term for street witnessing), I thought that it would be cool to see what I could observe and learn from this street guitar dude too. After all, I figured that he and I (and my class) were really doing the same thing. We both wanted people to be impacted in such a way that they would have a favorable response to what we were sharing with them. The more I listened to him (and I hope that this doesn't sound too harsh), the more I realized that technically speaking he wasn't all that great. He was really just okay. But he was smooth... really smooth! His music wasn't overpowering or annoying. It also wasn't too subtle and easily overlooked. It was just right for the atmosphere that we were in. I was just smooth, and smooth is cool...

Street guitar dude tip #1: You don't have to be great, just smooth.

I ended up being in the proximity of this guy for a little longer than I expected because one of the teams stopped to chat with me me for a few minutes as they passed by. While I was listening, I noticed that he seemed to keep doing the same few songs over and over again. I think that his two favorites were Elton John's Levon and Your Song. But no matter how much he sang these songs, new people passing by still dropped money into his guitar case...

Street guitar dude tip #2: If you found something that works, then just go with it... keep your groove going.

Eventually (since there really aren't a ton of people out on Monday nights anyway), there were several times that traffic literally stopped altogether. When the foot traffic disappeared, I would notice him stop playing, take a rough count of some of the cash in his case, and then stop for a smoke. He didn't seem interested in wasting his time when there wouldn't be any fruit coming from it. And if it looked like traffic was about to pick back up, he would even stop mid-smoke and return to the guitar.

Street guitar dude tip #3: If no one is listening, go ahead and take a smoke break (if that's your thing).

I guess that I've always thought that doing something like this for 'work' was sort of a cop-out. But the more that I watched, the biggest realization that I had was that this guy (and probably many others like him) are very street-wise and quite masterful at the art of connecting with people in a special way that prompts them to respond (with their wallets). So to street guitar dude... Bravo dude, bravo. I am still learning from watching you the other night! I don't know if you've ever stopped for a moment to just watch a street musician like this or not. Maybe you have some of your own observations from what I've shared here, or other thoughts from other encounters that you've had like this. What lessons (particularly related to your faith) have you learned from street musicians? Photo by Gail Nadeau, via Laura Boggess on Flickr. Post by Dan King of BibleDude.net. Check out the bonus video footage at BibleDude.net!

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