Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Challenge techniques

People often ask me how I find musicians. What techniques do I use? How often do I do this?

Well, I have decided to give you an insight into how I conduct this challenge. I'm going to peel away the secrets and show you just how this is done! I feel a little like Penn & Teller....

Before I start, I should say that for the first 4 month I just went up to people, told them what I was doing. And from now on, I have printed cards I give them. More professional. But less personal I think. Will be interesting to see the results and if they change....Anyway. Here are the techniques used.

Technique # 1 - Platform Meandering
The most obvious and laziest of all techniques. Meander suspiciously around a platform until you spot an instrument case. Also good for lunchtimes where you can sit with your lunch and watch the trains arrive. Many a musician is found via platform loitering,

Technique # 2 - Trainscanning
This technique requires an element of skill and good eyesight. As the train is pulling into the station, you move your head at the same pace as the train, quickly back and forth, and view each carriage to see if you can see instruments. Just moving your eyes with your head still causes a bit of a headache and is harder to do. By moving your head as well, you reduce the speed at which your eyes need to move. You do, of course, look like you're massively disapproving of the oncoming train...

Once you spot an instrument, run to the carriage and get on. If you can't make it in time, get on the nearest carriage and do some.....

Technique # 3 - Carriage Hopping
This is the fun part! Get on at the last carriage (having just done some trainscanning) and walk from one end of the carriage to the other. At the next station, just out and move to the next carriage. The more astute commuters spot you doing this, and hold onto their luggage a little tighter. So, in a bizarre way, I think I'm helping increase security on the underground.

Careful attention is paid to instrument cases under the foldup seats. Many a violin/saxophone case has been spotted there!

Once you get to the end of the train, just off, do a Platform Meander and start at the other end again.....

Technique # 4 - Carriage Strolling
Whilst done in small bursts whilst Carriage Hopping, this can only be done on the Metropolitan line (and some overground lines if allowed). You walk from one end of the train to the next, then back again. Fun to do in small bursts, but gets boring very quickly. Do a day of carriage strolling and you're longing for a bit of a carriage hop!

Technique # 5 - Station Loitering
Many novices confuse Station Loitering with Platform Meandering. It's a schoolboy error to make. If you tell an inexperienced musician hunter to Station Loiter, they'll find themselves on the platform looking around. NO! You're missing one of the most important tools in finding people on the underground. Loitering in one place, letting people pass you by. It's like that analogy with the rain and running. Except with no moisture....

Station Loitering is finding a sweet spot(s) in a station and hanging about. A good example would be the bottom of the escalators at Picadilly. The two escalators go to the Bakerloo Line and the Picadilly Line. Which means every moment you have people going to the two platforms, and coming from them. A constant 4 flows of human traffic. Find the sweet spots in the station and go from one to the other, depending on the flow.

HOWEVER! Whilst the benefits of Station Loitering are many, it's not without it's curses. If you spot a musician in one of these flows, then you have to get to them! That can be difficult, and can involve Escalator Madness, the technique most avoided. Also, if you are too close to the entrance/exit and spot a musician about to leave, then you have to do a mad dash and they're normally scared. Trust me, I know....

Technique # 6 - Escalator madness
The most loathed of all techniques. It's not really even a technique. Well, it partly is. The technique is to ensure you are always closest to the opposite moving escalator. That way, if you see a musician you can gesture to them/hand them a card.

The problem is that, to get in/out of most stations you have to use an escalator. And when you're on it, as a musician hunter, it's hard to avoid looking at the other flow of people going the opposite way. The madest of the madness comes when you step onto an escalator, and see a musician the other side stepping off. OH NO! PANIC! What do you do? Do you run back the wrong way, causing problems to the other passengers? Do you abide by the rules and run down and up the other way, in the hope they'll have not left? Do you shout out and throw some note at them, hoping they'll see it? Do you madly slide down the middle part like an action hero?

I'm not telling you what I've done (*cough* all of the above *cough*) but I can tell you it's madness. I dislike it a lot. OK, a little part of me loves it.....

And thus concludes the techniques for any wannabe musician hunter on the underground.

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