The ubiquitous tip jar.
Imagine any street or coffeehouse musician and you’d see a tip jar in your mind’s eye. I, for one, have always felt uncomfortable with it. First off, Bronne and I have several instruments to set up, cables to plug, and sounds to check before a performance. The tip jar is a detail we can do without. Second, and more importantly, I’ve always felt uneasy putting it out which is strange because I’d never feel contempt for any musician who has one. It isn’t the ‘playing-music-for-money’ part that I dislike. I think a tip jar could be seen as another means of measuring how one’s gig went. . .
How did we do today?
Oh, we got $10. Not bad considering there were only 3 people here.
. . . and, head count, applause, and compliments, aside, do I really need another means to make myself feel insecure?
But many times in the past when we didn’t bring a tip jar, people would come up to us asking for it. Some, with their dollar bill on hand, would awkwardly stand in front of us and place their tip on my keyboard or at my feet. Some would actually advise us, “You guys should have a tip jar.” So to prevent any more discomfort or awkwardness for these people who show us their appreciation, we started putting one out.
We’ve been using a small basket we bought from a thrift store for 50 cents. One of my concerns during set-up is where to put this darn tip basket. We can’t put it on the floor. We can put it on a chair but, because we play an 88-key keyboard, bells, and 2 guitars and use 3 mics with mic stands and 2 music stands, we take up space more than the typical duo. Putting the tip basket on a chair would just create more clutter.
A few months ago, we went to another thrift store and bought half-a-music stand for 79 cents. We couldn’t find the lyre. I had the feeling the legs alone would come in handy some day, so we bought it. And a couple of weeks ago, I thought of putting one and one together to eliminate this tip jar concern from my mind.
All it took was a needle and sturdy twine, glue gun and sticks, a small square cardboard, clear tape, and a chopstick.
I sewed the basket to the legs by hooking the twine around the clip (where one adjusts the height of the stand). I used the glue gun to keep the twine in place and to make the basket more stable. Finally, I wrote THANK YOU on a small cardboard and covered it with clear tape to keep it from getting dirty. I cut a slit at the end of the chopstick and slipped the cardboard in.
I know it’s such an easy little project but it sure made a huge difference for our band mascot, Joyful, who’s in charge of the tips. He seems to really appreciate the tip basket’s handiness and compactness.