There is precious little fun and no profit that I’ve yet discovered. It is hard work, and if you’re looking for return on investment, after 40-ish years I don’t think I’ve reached break-even yet. I’m not complaining, I’m just making an observation. If I had any sense, I would give it all up, hang my pipes on the wall as a conversation piece and lie to the world about how great I once was. Reputations can only grow with the passing of the piper or retirement of the performer.
But in truth, I’ll probably stay at it. “Pardon me, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice.” In my case, progress is in increments so small they cannot be measured. Indeed, after a spell of neglect the effort to claw my way back to even a comparable level can be an overwhelming challenge.
But there always seems to be that telephone call from a friend of a friend who needs a tune or two to help celebrate or mourn some special occasion. How can I say “No”? In general, the audience is not so critical of the performance as the performer, but I want to give the event its due. If I drag out the same old tired tunes, they’re reasonably fresh to the listeners and they’re usually preoccupied with who’s walking down the aisle or being planted in the ground.
I’m cursed with a modicum of ethics that demands some fair measure for the honorarium I may (or may not) be charging. My general rule is that performances for relatives and close friends are gratis. For all the rest, it’s whatever the market will bear without seeming greedy and factoring in my limited talents.
So if you’re inviting me to the affair, I’m a pretty cheap date.