A memorable, surprising, high-quality quickie for your champagne moment – birthdays are particularly popular. Sprog hint: If yours are under five foot, a (stable) beer crate will enable you to photograph them organ-grinding without your nearest and dearest having to hold them up in mid-air. This passage from Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment kind of counts:
Raskolnikov went up into the tavern. He found Svidrigaïlov in a tiny back room, adjoining the saloon in which merchants, clerks and numbers of people of all sorts were drinking tea at twenty little tables to the desperate bawling of a chorus of singers. The click of billiard balls could be heard in the distance. On the table before Svidrigaïlov stood an open bottle and a glass half full of champagne. In the room he found also a boy with a little hand organ, a healthy-looking red-cheeked girl of eighteen, wearing a tucked-up striped skirt, and a Tyrolese hat with ribbons. In spite of the chorus in the other room, she was singing some servants’ hall song in a rather husky contralto, to the accompaniment of the organ.
“Come, that’s enough,” Svidrigaïlov stopped her at Raskolnikov’s entrance. The girl at once broke off and stood waiting respectfully. She had sung her guttural rhymes, too, with a serious and respectful expression in her face.
“Hey, Philip, a glass!” shouted Svidrigaïlov.
“I won’t drink anything,” said Raskolnikov.
“As you like, I didn’t mean it for you. Drink, Katia! I don’t want anything more to-day, you can go.” He poured her out a full glass, and laid down a yellow note.
Katia drank off her glass of wine, as women do, without putting it down, in twenty gulps, took the note and kissed Svidrigaïlov’s hand, which he allowed quite seriously. She went out of the room and the boy trailed after her with the organ. Both had been brought in from the street. Svidrigaïlov had not been a week in Petersburg, but everything about him was already, so to speak, on a patriarchal footing; the waiter, Philip, was by now an old friend and very obsequious.
Weddings, funerals and Christmases
I typically sing a customised mix for an hour and a bit at receptions while the guests come in, but can also provide an unusual touch at civil or religious ceremonies, using trumpeters and sopranos where appropriate – here’s a multiple-choice programme used in Spain. There’s an incomplete multilingual Christmas carol list here. Obligatory Thomas Hardy reference: If your west gallery quire is getting unruly, I can also lead your congregation in hymn-singing.
Official walkabout singing organ-grinder for your town/neighbourhood/market/shopping centre/business/festival
In action in Leytonstone, London:
… and in a district of Barcelona:
Kids’ (karaoke) parties
Based around this repertoire. Street parade arrival:
I’m fluent and know the popular repertoire thoroughly. I’ve done business promotions and parties, but here’s me singing 40 patriotic songs for Dutch expat celebrations in Barcelona of the coronation of Willem-Alexander in 2013:
Tea dance: music for the afternoon or the early evening, for garden parties, afternoon teas, church fêtes and discreet decadence
Based on this repertoire, including waltzes, country dances, quadrilles, galops, polkas, saunters, two-steps, mazurkas, schottisches, cakewalks, tangos, foxtrots, quicksteps, Charlestons, rumbas, cha-cha-chas, sambas, bossa novas, salsa, mambos, South African jive and paso dobles.