There’s nothing more romantic than a bunch of musicians out on the street playing New Orleans jazz. Young ragamuffins who’ve shunned society’s norms, and even some personal hygiene, to give themselves over to the noble tradition of street performing, for nothing more than the joy of making music and also your spare change.
Perhaps you’ve seen one of these young things and thought: “Oh, how adorable!” If you see one that captures your heart and want to take one in and give it a home, that’s a wonderful gesture and I applaud your generous spirit, but please note some important factors to consider before taking that first big step. Street musicians may not be used to the comforts and constraints of everyday indoor life.
So here we go with The Professor’s guide to housebreaking your musician:
On the street, musicians tend to congregate in packs (bands). If you take one home and separate them from the band, there may be a period of instability. Don’t be alarmed if their initial behavior is erratic. Expect a period of adjustment for both you and your new “house guest.” It’s important that you be patient with your musician. They will take time to settle in and be comfortable in their new home.
Your musician will probably be nocturnal, sleeping late into the morning. Don’t be alarmed if your musician also takes an afternoon nap. Musicians on average sleep 12-14 hours a day.
If you bring an older musician home, good for you. They may not be as cute as the young ones, but hopefully, they’ll already be housebroken (divorced) and their previous owner (wife) will have already done the hard work.
Some behaviors are breed-specific, and I’d like to mention some traits of a few common breeds:
Trumpet players can be territorial, and may mark their territory by emptying their spit valves in the corners of rooms. If this happens, don’t get angry at them. That will only make them aggressive and blow loud high notes in your face. It’s better to say “no” in a firm voice. Put some newspaper down in the corner of the room you’d like them to do it in, and point clearly to that spot. If they empty their valves in the correct area, reward them with a treat.
(Generally speaking, rewards for good behavior are more effective than punishment for the bad. If, for example, your musician manages to do some practice or cleans after themselves, reward them with a beer.)
Drummers have a lot of nervous energy, and are a accustomed to expel it by hitting things. Please have something handy for them to bash on, otherwise they will chew your furniture.
Clarinet players are by nature quite timid. Don’t be surprised if they make a nest out of clarinet reeds, spending their time playing one after another. Avoid startling them, especially while playing, because they’ll probably squeak at you, which is a natural defense mechanism. (This unpleasant sound is to be avoided at all costs.)
Trombone players are good natured and generally docile creatures. They make good house pets, but be warned: they’re not too bright and may try and hump your furniture, so it’s a good idea to move your fragile items from the living areas.
If your musician has a strong desire to go outside, that’s fine. Most musicians, if let outside, are incapable of preparing their own food and will eventually return to you. If your musician doesn’t come back, don’t be alarmed. Chances are you’ll find them at the nearest bar.
Once your musician becomes comfortable with their living situation, give them a house key. You will find over time that they are quite independent creatures. (Note: if you have a vocalist, best to accompany them on their walks outside. This is because they get lost very easily, and they will lose their key, and not know how to come back in.)
After about 6 to 8 months of hard work, your musician will be successfully housebroken. Congratulations! Now they’re ready to go out on their own and play an actual jazz club or music festival. Thank you! You’ve done a great service to society, helping ensure the future of these mysterious creatures.