Buskers who perform for passion
Three street performers don't do it for money, but for passion for their craft
As a child, Ms Eileen Chai enthralled audiences by balancing on the beams and swinging on uneven bars.
Now 36, she entertains a different crowd - the former national gymnast dishes out pop tunes and original compositions by the river at Clarke Quay. Sometimes she also sings.
While her violin teaching schedule can be demanding, she makes time to perform on the street because she wants to "engage the public".
"I hope people will realise busking is not just for people with no money and is not a bad thing," said the musician, who started performing in 2012.
"My desire is to reach out to people and show them that we have a passion for the arts. Anyone can try it. It just takes time and effort to showcase what you love."
Ms Chai started learning to play the violin at age four, but later chose sports. It was difficult to juggle both, especially when she became a national athlete.
Yet, music remained a passion of hers because it sustained her during the arduous sports training she endured in China.
"I listened to casettes to get by. Music is a universal language and the lyrics helped to ease my pain, especially when things got tough and I felt lonely and tired," she said.
Ms Chai returned to music again in university when her sports career was over. She joined various bands and learned to play the violin again.
"Music is my lifeline. I did not just want to listen to music. I wanted to make it," she explained.
The full-time violin teacher says she used to busk twice a week during lunch hours, but has stopped performing so frequently since she started writing a book, which was published last month..
She admitted that there were times when she felt dejected and discouraged by the lack of people who stopped to listen.
"It can be straining mentally to stand in the hot sun and watch people just walk by. Sometimes, I asked myself what I was doing," she said.
But comments she received from international street performers at a buskers' festival on Sentosa last year inspired her to keep going.
"One of them told me that I have to always give 110 per cent of my effort, even if there is no one listening. If I can just touch one person's life through my busking, I would have succeeded."