Meet 10-year-old Masen Daly. This video shows him playing his violin outside the Dollar Tree on Churn Creek Avenue. On this particular day, he performed everything from Vivaldi to Irish folk songs. As he played, some people walked by. Others stopped and listened. Yet others dropped coins or bills into the boy’s open violin case on the ground beside his feet.
Masen is a former home school student. He’s been in strings programs with Sheri Eby at Redding School of the Arts, and Janetta DeMott at Sequoia Middle School, where Masen is in the school’s strings class and the intermediate A orchestra. He hopes to be able to play in the chamber orchestra.
Michael Daly said his son got the idea to play his violin for tips by watching YouTube videos. Masen’s mom took him to his first paying “gig” outside the Dollar Tree on Athens Avenue. In the first 15 minutes Masen earned about $25.
“From there, he was hooked,” Michael Daly said, adding that one of Masen’s parents are always there, watching nearby, to ensure their son’s safe-keeping.
Some retail managers welcome Masen’s impromptu performances outside their stores, while others ask the boy to leave. Masen understands. He’s a practical, logical kid.
Michael Daly recalls when Masen asked his father to buy him an electric violin.
“I told him that he would have to earn the money,” Michael Daly said. “It was about $110 dollars. The first thing he said was to take him to the Sundial Bridge.”
Masen played that night at the Sundial Bridge, and made $93. He returned the next night and earned another $40.
“So he bought his electric violin,” Michael Daly said. “It still amazes me how much he can make.”
I first met you when I heard you playing outside the Dollar Store. I must say, I was impressed.
How often do you play in public?
A couple of days, um, I don’t know how often. I just go there randomly.
Do you have favorite locations?
My favorite locations are the Dollar Tree by Sequoia because I go there after school, mostly, and my other one is the Sundial Bridge. I make a lot of money there.
How long have you played — and why the violin?
I have been playing for almost a year, and I wanted to try the violin, so I tried it at Sequoia home school … and that’s when I started the violin, and now I’m in regular school.
What’s your favorite way to spend the money you earn?
When I break a string on accident, or it just pops off and it breaks, I replace that, and that takes a little money. And I use it for violin lessons; private lessons.
It’s pretty resourceful of you to play your violin as a way of earning money. Do you have any other plans for money-making as you get older?
To spend on my house, maybe, or my food. (Laughs)
Have you given any thought to what you’d like to do for a job when you grow up?
I want to be a professional violinist.
I am not surprised. Thanks so much, Masen. Good luck with everything.
Thank you for saying good luck.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.