GK: It's the holiday season, which is full-employment time for musicians, even trombonists (TROMBONE PLAYING SCALE) are finding work now, at church concerts, school pageants, Salvation Army bands -- and even the tabla players in the New York local are all working now (TABLA PLAYING 'HARK THE HERALD ANGELS') and of course the medieval instruments like the shawm and the sackbut -- unemployment among sackbut players runs right around 86%, but during the holidays it drops to 50% (SACKBUT TOOTLING) --
GK: Visitors to New York wonder: what is the protocol with musicians playing in the subway? Are you obligated to put money into the hat for everybody? And if so, how much? The answer is No, you're not obligated, and if you do, the amount of course is up to you, but here are some guidelines. Saxophones in the subway (SAX PLAYING JAZZ VERSION OF "CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE") should not be encouraged. These are lonely men who are just trying to make the rest of us lonely too so just walk past and don't make eye contact. For a steel drum (STEEL DRUM, "JOY TO THE WORLD") you should consider the difficulty of hauling the thing down in the subway and getting it over the turnstiles. On the other hand this is not Jamaica. Seventy-five cents. (COIN COIN COIN) Same goes for Peruvian panflute players, who have the wrong idea altogether (PANFLUTE).
GK: If you see a panflute band playing in the subway, you are entitled to a refund. Take 25 cents out of the hat and keep walking.
GK: In parts of Queens and the northern suburbs, you may come across a banjo player (BANJO, JOY TO THE WORLD), and the proper etiquette there is to smile and wave. Guitarists tend to show up at 34th Street, underneath Macy's. (ELECTRIC GUITAR, KING WENCESLAS) They are impoverished, and it's sad, but remember it's not your fault. Time to get rid of all those pennies you've been lugging around (CHANGE DUMP). And anything else you want to get rid of. Ticket stubs (PAPER FLUTTERING). Old gum (THUK). Kleenex (SPLORT). And then one day you come down into the subway and a small child is singing on the platform--
In excelsis deo.
GK: A small child in a ragged suit, holding a tin cup that is overflowing with twenties. People stand nearby weeping.
FN (CHILD): Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ria
GK: Stand next to the child and pay no attention. Check your watch and look off down the tracks for your train.
FN (CHILD): In excelsis deo.
GK: Better he should learn about indifference now than when he gets older It's New York. Get over yourself.