Today, I finally got to meet New York’s famous saw lady, Natalia Paruz, as she was performing at Herald Square. What a sound! I ate a falafel sandwich a few feet away while listening to her: and lo, this sandwich has now been immortalized in a thousand tourist pictures.
Speaking of less-known instruments, I also listened to an erhu player at the Natural History Museum. He was surrounded by a group from a kids summer program, all wearing matching yellow “Creative Arts” t-shirts and listening intently.
When we got in the downtown B train, I asked the school group if they knew what instrument the man had been playing. One reflected deeply, then said: “Well, it’s not a real instrument.” Oh no!
Fortunately, I know enough about the erhu to be able to give them a quick run-down — where it’s from, how it’s played, how important an instrument it is. They were interested to hear that the songs being performed probably have a lengthy history, just like Western classical music. Remember, New York: learning happens in the subway, too!