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Why Do Musicians and Singers Feel So Entitled?

Busker On the subway platform a pleasant looking woman (made up as if for an audition) was studying her sheet music while singing an otherwise unidentifiable show tune. Her lack of self-consciousness—some might say exhibitionism—was irritating. Her total disregard for everyone around her was infuriating. Who said we wanted to hear her? And it's not as though we could move some place else—not that we should be obliged to. The platform was packed and there was no place to go.

Of course, the same charge could be leveled against buskers, not to mention performing panhandlers. But there is a difference. They're at least attempting to entertain the public.

The woman with her sheet music couldn't care less if she pleased anyone on hand. That's also arguably true of subterranean mimes, clowns, and human "statues." (Does anyone really enjoy them?) But feeling free to be intrusive is a special issue with singers and musicians—drummers are the worst offenders—not only in public but in their apartments where they rehearse loudly and/or hold classes.

My windows face one of these apartments where a singing teacher has talent-free musical theatre students streaming in and out all day. It wouldn't matter if they were stellar. I don't want them in my home. To judge by the angry slamming of windows when it's hot, and the opening and pounding down of windows when it is cold others feel the same way. But no one says anything. It's daytime and the performers are not doing anything illegal.

By contrast, painters and dancers and actors rarely bother anyone. One occasionally hears of actors rehearsing scenes that sound so real their neighbors bang on their doors—or perhaps even call the cops—because they think someone in the apartment is being attacked. But that's a-typical. Generally, actors/dancers/painters understand if their livelihoods are invasive to others they rent space elsewhere. So, why are singers and musicians exempt? Money problems apply to everyone. And if there really is no other place to work an apology is in order. But it's never forthcoming.

As for neighbors-cum-drummers, yes, I've dealt with them too. The percussive beat was noisy and relentless. The drummers are gone now. Did someone bring a complaint? Were they unable to pay the rent and evicted? Frankly, I don't care. Their absence is a major improvement in the quality of my life.

-- Simi Horwitz 

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