On playing music in airports

A few years back I was staying in Philadelphia with a bassoonist friend of mine, when he mentioned that he likes to practice in the airport during layovers. My first reaction was, “wait, that’s allowed?” quickly followed by, “I NEED to do this!” He assured me that it was indeed okay, and that his experiences playing in terminals have been largely positive. After a few times trying this out myself, I have to say that I’m a convert for life!

So this last weekend, I flew to California to attend my brother’s wedding, and I thought this would be a great chance to play at the airport again. Here I am, playing the oboe:


I played C.P.E. Bach and Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. One guy actually put $10 in my oboe case for the Jeff Buckley, I’m guessing that he has a particular bond with that song. I was actually approached by a few airport employees that day, but instead of telling me to stop like I was afraid they would, they only told me to move a little bit to a better location. No one to date has told me to stop (at least not to my face!), which I like to think is because of a few self-imposed guidelines I follow when playing at an airport.

I think I have always been intrigued by the idea of playing in an airport, partially as a way to combat the difficulties of practicing on travel days, but mostly as a way to reach people with my music who I wouldn’t normally reach otherwise. Now, it might be troublesome if everyone began to play music at the airport and it became a nuisance, but by and large we could use a few more musicians spicing up the airport experience.

On that note, the quintet does have a long layover in SFO before we get to China…


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