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View Full Version : Playing quietly at an airport OK?



Ukettante
08-21-2016, 09:48 PM
Does anyone have any experience playing their ukulele at an airport? I don't mean performing but just practicing, noodling quietly in a corner while waiting for your flight. Lots of people talk about flying with their instruments, but I'm wondering: how about while you're at the airport? I'll be flying budget on an upcoming trip overseas and can't decide whether it's worth the hassle to try to sneak a ukulele with me onboard after reading the strict carry-on restrictions. First time flying budget. If I'll likely be stopped while playing quietly in a corner, then I won't bother taking it with me for the relatively short, four-day trip.

I read on the forum a while back that a respected Hawaiian ukulele performer was asked to stop playing at a Hawaii airport.

Iulia
08-21-2016, 10:40 PM
I was at Budapest airport recently, and there was a piano there you could play. One guy played for a bit, and most people seemed to enjoy it. I suppose it might depend on how good you sound :-) mind you I would have thought the amount of noise there is at an airport, you could find a corner to play where nobody could hear you much ...?

AndieZ
08-21-2016, 10:57 PM
I have no experience but i reckon that if your playing was annoying someone and they complained, they'd ask you to stop. But if its just quiet, probably no one will mind. But i have never seen anyone playing even quietly in an airport. If i heard someone playing and i didn't like, i'd probably move as airports are so big its quite easy to get away from something or someone.

Ukettante
08-21-2016, 11:31 PM
OP here.

I neglected to say the departure time for my outbound flight is 7:30 a.m., and that for my returning flight is 10:00 p.m. I'm thinking while the airport should be less crowded during those times, I would appear conspicuous picking my uke. Then again perhaps airport security would just let me be since there won't be too many passengers around.

PhilUSAFRet
08-22-2016, 01:31 AM
It probably depends on the airport. I hear it's illegal to play your uke in public in Key West! They have fear of busking there I think.

EmmaQ
08-22-2016, 03:19 AM
I'm a nervous flyer so I always practice my ukulele in the airport before boarding. I play quietly, I'm an intermediate player, and I've NEVER had anyone complain. On the contrary, I've had lots of people ask me about the uke and seem to even enjoy my simple quiet playing.

bonesigh
08-22-2016, 04:27 AM
I just do it anywhere and everywhere. People can always ask me to stop. That has only happened one time and ironically it was at a ukulele festival! LOL, go figure. If I'm in a small cramped situation with a few people I ask them if they'd mind. Usual answer is nope. I play quitety in these situations and am sometimes asked to get louder. Actually many have thanked me for the lovely background music. Play on ( :_/*( )o}==#

AndieZ
08-22-2016, 04:49 AM
. I hear it's illegal to play your uke in public in Key West! They have fear of busking there I think.

Why do they fear buskers? They sound like real dull people. Fancy not wanting buskers around. Sheesh!

bnolsen
08-22-2016, 05:18 AM
its fine as long as you are playing "tiptoe through the tulips" and "tonight you belong to me".

hoosierhiver
08-22-2016, 05:24 AM
I used to play in airports a lot, you can always find an empty area. I noticed it usually attracted people who would sit near by to listen.

Ukulele Eddie
08-22-2016, 05:47 AM
Think of it like playing your music without headphones. If you could go some place where nobody will hear you, fine. But what would you think if some somebody sat within ear shot and played some genre of music you don't like on their phone without headphones, even if it was very quiet.


And I type this as I stand at LAX with my uke in its case. ;-)

rappsy
08-22-2016, 05:47 AM
You could always get something like a RISA Stick and no one past a few feet from you would hear it. I recently used this each day in an Intensive Care Unit and the doctors and nurses always inquired about the unusual looking device that I was playing. You would probably get more stares about the Stick than the playing.

93605

There are also other companies that produce relatively silent Ukes.

KoaDependent
08-22-2016, 05:50 AM
In short, I don't believe it's appropriate to subject others to things they didn't ask to hear, no matter how good you think you sound. It's different in a park or other setting where people can choose to move if they don't like it - in an airport you're all stuck in the same spot until you board.

Bob Bledsoe
08-22-2016, 07:42 AM
I have either an ukulele or a mandolin with me whenever I travel and I always play it at the airport - but I do it in an empty section of the terminal. I too hold the belief that you shouldn't subject anyone to potentially unwanted noise, music, etc... So I start all alone in some empty corner and anyone who wants to join me there already knows I'm playing. And they usually come over because of it. Some sit near me and listen, some ask about the instrument, but most people stop and stand right next to me pretending to look at a flight or something while they listen for a minute and move on.
So my experience is that it's a great place to quietly practice as long as you pick the right spot.

Tonya
08-22-2016, 08:09 AM
When I travel with my ukulele I almost always play a bit in the airport prior to or between flights (with parking, check-in and TSA I tend to arrive early enough that I have a lot of time before boarding!). I always seek out a non-busy area, typically with not many (or any) folks nearby (that way if people *choose* to sit within listening distance, it's their own fault!) and then I just play/"noodle" along quietly.

At Orange County (CA) airport once, I was working on one of the first songs in Mark Nelson's fingerpicking book, "Las Mananitas"; it's a song traditionally sung to Mexican children by their mother on the morning of their birthday. I was putting it all together and playing it over and over when I became aware of one of the airport maintenance workers drawing closer and closer. He'd been emptying trash receptacles and when I looked up I saw him smiling broadly at me. Then he began singing the song in Spanish as I played along--and I couldn't stop smiling, either. As we finished together, he nodded his head at me, said "gracias" and slipped back to his work. That was one of the "most connected" airport layover experiences I've enjoyed.

mds725
08-22-2016, 08:52 AM
I think the law against playing music in airports may have originally been directed at Hari Krishnas who, back in the day, would go to airports to solicit funds and interest people in their religion by chanting. To avoid enacting a law that was directed specifically at a certain religious practice, many states banned making any kind of music in airports, which would include chanting, to discourage Hari Krishna's from soliciting in airports. Some states (apparently including Hawaii) still enforce those laws.

Iulia
08-22-2016, 09:29 AM
Think of it like playing your music without headphones. If you could go some place where nobody will hear you, fine. But what would you think if some somebody sat within ear shot and played some genre of music you don't like on their phone without headphones, even if it was very quiet.


And I type this as I stand at LAX with my uke in its case. ;-)


I was a bit conflicted by the piano in Budapest. It was right at the gate as you waited to board - so not like you could just wander off. Fine if someone plays nicely, but if some bell-end starts playing chop-sticks over and over, and you end up getting arrested for hitting him over the head with the piano stool ....

JackLuis
08-22-2016, 09:34 AM
Last spring I traveled to Wash DC and coming home had a hour layover in Salt Lake City. They had a smoking section with a few people in it, so I broke out my tenor and played quietly some of my limited selections. A steward, who was laying over, commented when I stopped for a minute, "Very Relaxing", he said and smiled. that was the first time anyone ever complemented me on my playing. It kind of made the whole eight hour trip worthwhile.

Nickie
08-22-2016, 12:40 PM
Why do they fear buskers? They sound like real dull people. Fancy not wanting buskers around. Sheesh!

Yes, buskphobia runs rampant in our tighta--ed society. Too bad.

THE GAMEr
08-22-2016, 12:58 PM
Check with legal regulations where you will be, but....

At the Chicago O'Hare airport, I was traveling with my university choir, accompanying with Irish flute, and we had a mini Irish session near the terminal! Followed by a choral practice. It was certainly not unobtrusive, but everyone loved, even had airport employees coming to film it.

Unless its literally illegal, I see no problem. Nor did they at O'Hare.

PeteyHoudini
08-22-2016, 01:15 PM
I've got one and it tends to get looked at suspiciously by the airport scanners. I was questioned about it twice now. hehe Still, it's easy to play it in an airport without bothering anyone. You'll attract more attention like you said! hehe


You could always get something like a RISA Stick and no one past a few feet from you would hear it. I recently used this each day in an Intensive Care Unit and the doctors and nurses always inquired about the unusual looking device that I was playing. You would probably get more stares about the Stick than the playing.

93605

There are also other companies that produce relatively silent Ukes.

bonesigh
08-22-2016, 01:24 PM
Lol, I wish the supermarkets and department stores and music stores felt this way. I went into a music store one time to get an Abba album and they were playing 'cringe' Tiny Tim!! Talk about being stuck somewhere! I pity the people who have to work at these places during the holidays!!


In short, I don't believe it's appropriate to subject others to things they didn't ask to hear, no matter how good you think you sound. It's different in a park or other setting where people can choose to move if they don't like it - in an airport you're all stuck in the same spot until you board.

ksiegel
08-22-2016, 01:29 PM
I always have a ukulele with me when I travel, and I play it while waiting at the gate, sitting in my seat, very softly, and keep the case closed so I don't appear to be busking.

I have never had a negative comment or experience, and I usually have other passengers/ crew members/ gate personnel thanking me.

I think one of the best experiences was at O'Hare, when a gate agent said that she wished when could hire me to play at her gate all day!

Another was when a toddler just started dancing in front of me with a big smile on her face.

So play your ukulele - even though you are playing for yourself, don't be afraid to share the music with those around you.


-Kurt

sopher
08-22-2016, 02:13 PM
I always play at the airport. I play fingerpicking instrumentals and they are well received. I don't move off into a corner - I just take it out and play it softly. I refer to the uke as the NII (Nearly Inaudible Instrument).

lfoo6952
08-22-2016, 02:23 PM
I say go for it. I suspect most people would enjoy it.

stevepetergal
08-22-2016, 02:46 PM
I'd say if you can find a place in the airport where you won't be disturbing anyone, no problem. If not, DON'T. (We had a thread on this subject and, as I remember the general consensus was don't force others to listen to you at the airport.)

PeteyHoudini
08-22-2016, 02:58 PM
I'd say if you can find a place in the airport where you won't be disturbing anyone, no problem. If not, DON'T. (We had a thread on this subject and, as I remember the general consensus was don't force others to listen to you at the airport.)

Funny, in Ottawa here in Canada, we have the Byward Market; a touristy type area with farmers' stands and trendy bars and restaurants and the usual riffraff to boot hanging about. hehe The city now requires a busker's permit for the summer. I don't busk so this means nothing to me. However, one of the real issues was that the buskers were over-amplifying their music and annoying the farmers' stands, etc... I can attest to this since I am there often enough and there was WAY TOO MUCH amplification on stuff. So, that was forcing people working nearby all day to listen to that crap.

Airports are intense places... people are fed up, waiting forever, etc... tired, zonked, drunk, etc... but it is dumb to go playing loudly a uke or as a group together. Best to find a quiet corner to just play softly. I am sure no one will mind. And if someone does, just stop. Though, go near an open-area bar... no one will mind there!!! hehe

mikelz777
08-22-2016, 03:27 PM
I love playing the uke but I don't feel the need for it to occupy every spare or idle moment in my life. We can't assume that everyone is even remotely as enthusiastic as people here are about the ukulele. Just because people don't say anything directly to someone doesn't mean that they aren't annoyed or bothered. This is coming from an introvert. My personality would tell me that in such an environment that I wouldn't do anything that might bother or annoy others. There have to be better opportunities for some playing time. I'd suggest bringing a good book.

EmmaQ
08-22-2016, 03:52 PM
When I say I play quietly, I mean I play VERY VERY quietly- almost inaudible, just enough that my fingers are touching the strings correctly and producing just the barest of sound.

good_uke_boy
08-22-2016, 03:59 PM
You could always get something like a RISA Stick and no one past a few feet from you would hear it. I recently used this each day in an Intensive Care Unit and the doctors and nurses always inquired about the unusual looking device that I was playing. You would probably get more stares about the Stick than the playing.

93605

There are also other companies that produce relatively silent Ukes.

I travel with a Risa stick, too. I use headphones and amplify & listen with the prior version of one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/AP2AC-amPlug-AC30-Guitar-Headphone/dp/B00NAUHX1G

Works really well. And when TSA has questioned the strangely-shaped object in my carry-on, my answer ("it's an ukulele") always generates a smile.

Rllink
08-23-2016, 03:10 AM
I love playing the uke but I don't feel the need for it to occupy every spare or idle moment in my life. We can't assume that everyone is even remotely as enthusiastic as people here are about the ukulele. Just because people don't say anything directly to someone doesn't mean that they aren't annoyed or bothered. This is coming from an introvert. My personality would tell me that in such an environment that I wouldn't do anything that might bother or annoy others. There have to be better opportunities for some playing time. I'd suggest bringing a good book.I kind of agree with Mike. It would not bother me if someone was playing a ukulele or a guitar. I wonder how many trombone players want to play their trombones in the airport? Quietly of course. But kidding aside, it takes a lot to bother me. But personally, I would never play in a venue with a captive audience. If they can't get away from me, then I feel like I'm imposing. So an airport would not be a place that I would play my ukulele. But I then I don't have the desire to drag my ukulele through the airport when I am travelling either.

hoosierhiver
08-23-2016, 04:06 AM
In short, I don't believe it's appropriate to subject others to things they didn't ask to hear, no matter how good you think you sound. It's different in a park or other setting where people can choose to move if they don't like it - in an airport you're all stuck in the same spot until you board.

I'm constantly subjected to half of someone's annoying cell phone conversation, I think that point held more weight ten years ago.

bonesoup
08-23-2016, 05:02 AM
I haven't done this yet - too self conscious - but someday I will. I feel like it's ok if you do it at an unused gate or something. Plus Ralf (OnlyUkeThatMatters) has made airport videos before and I always thought they looked so cool.



At Orange County (CA) airport once, I was working on one of the first songs in Mark Nelson's fingerpicking book, "Las Mananitas"; it's a song traditionally sung to Mexican children by their mother on the morning of their birthday. I was putting it all together and playing it over and over when I became aware of one of the airport maintenance workers drawing closer and closer. He'd been emptying trash receptacles and when I looked up I saw him smiling broadly at me. Then he began singing the song in Spanish as I played along--and I couldn't stop smiling, either. As we finished together, he nodded his head at me, said "gracias" and slipped back to his work. That was one of the "most connected" airport layover experiences I've enjoyed.

What a great story!


I'm constantly subjected to half of someone's annoying cell phone conversation, I think that point held more weight ten years ago.

Perhaps you'll agree with me from (as I understand it) your trips to Thailand, Mike? This is one of the advantages of living in a foreign country where I don't understand the language so well. The ability to tune that kind of chatter haha. Sorry for the thread drift.

Rllink
08-23-2016, 05:33 AM
I'm constantly subjected to half of someone's annoying cell phone conversation, I think that point held more weight ten years ago.I agree with you there, that people with their phones glued to their heads are annoying, but I also think that is a huge part of the problem these days. The, I'm not going to worry about annoying other people, because other people are annoying too, attitude. We don't all have to shoot for the lowest common denominator.

hoosierhiver
08-23-2016, 09:01 AM
I agree with you there, that people with their phones glued to their heads are annoying, but I also think that is a huge part of the problem these days. The, I'm not going to worry about annoying other people, because other people are annoying too, attitude. We don't all have to shoot for the lowest common denominator.

That's true, but sadly it seems the social norms and expectations are changing rapidly these days because of technology. I sometimes feel like I am the only person left that considers cell phones a social nuisance and often a rude intrusion.

Rllink
08-23-2016, 09:24 AM
That's true, but sadly it seems the social norms and expectations are changing rapidly these days because of technology. I sometimes feel like I am the only person left that considers cell phones a social nuisance and often a rude intrusion.Agreed on that. But I'm wondering if it is going to phase out at some point. I only say this because I managed an aquatic center before I retired, and I had over a hundred lifeguards on the payroll. None of them would answer their phone, but they would answer a text within minutes. They would tell me that they didn't like talking on the phone, that texting was better. I don't know, I'm an old guy, but they did get me talking less and texting more.

wickedwahine11
08-23-2016, 01:11 PM
When I say I play quietly, I mean I play VERY VERY quietly- almost inaudible, just enough that my fingers are touching the strings correctly and producing just the barest of sound.

Ditto, I would venture to say my traveling companion sitting next to me can probably not even hear it. It would NEVER occur to me that I should play at a volume any passerby could ever hear. But even if I were talented enough, and I didn't think it was obtrusive, maybe I am also too shy to do so.

Pueo
08-23-2016, 01:24 PM
I always travel with an ukulele. I often play in the terminal while waiting to board. If it is crowded, I will try to find an area that is less crowded so that I do not "bother" anyone. I have found that sometimes people have moved - closer! Usually I get smiles from people if I get any reaction at all.
If you are considerate, I do not think it is an issue.
Yes it is true that Led Ka'apana was asked to stop playing in the Honolulu airport, but I do believe the security person was new and just "enforcing the law" but I do not think he knew who Led was. I recently had to take a day trip to Maui for work. Since I was working, it was the first time I did not take an ukulele on the trip with me. On the return trip, I had a couple of hours to kill and I was really sorry I did not bring my ukulele. Then I saw the pilot come to the gate, ukulele in hand! I said, "Oh man, now I am really sorry I did not bring mine, we could have had a jam session!" and he just laughed.

flailingfingers
08-24-2016, 06:05 AM
Last time I saw/heard a ukulele being played with singing, loudly and very off-key, at an airport, the surrounding crowd was getting unruly. Before security could arrive the poor fellow's uke had been reduced to kindling and he seemingly had lost a tooth. The tooth loss may have been unintentional and due to the late arrival into the action of a small, older woman with an umbrella.

Thumper
08-24-2016, 08:04 AM
I have to laugh at anybody referring to Key West as "uptight" or similar adjectives.

Ever been there? That's probably the last word I'd use to describe the rather.... colorful population of that island. :)

It's definitely the weirdest city in Florida - and that's saying a lot! :cheers:

rappsy
08-24-2016, 08:16 AM
I have to laugh at anybody referring to Key West as "uptight" or similar adjectives.

Ever been there? That's probably the last word I'd use to describe the rather.... colorful population of that island. :)

It's definitely the weirdest city in Florida - and that's saying a lot! :cheers:

Being from South Florida, I believe the weirdest city in Florida is the whole State of Florida.

When you are in Key West, if you have long pants on you are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY overdressed.