The Washington Post

Harpist plays in Metro stations to raise money for college

Emily Mason, 22, of Front Royal, plays her harp a few nights a week at a Metro station in the area to attend college.

Last week, a blog post introduced readers to Mason’s music. Postmetrogirl caught up with Mason via e-mail for more details.

Where do you to college?

I was enrolled in Front Royal, but due to recent medical expenses, I’ve had to pull out and wait to go to school for another year or so. I have since reconsidered schools and am now hoping to go to Ave Maria University in Florida.

What do you plan on studying there?

Either history or philosophy.

How long have you been playing at Metro stops?

For over a year now.

Why did you start?

Because I needed to raise money for a summer music school in Pittsburgh. I got the idea of playing in D.C. from a friend who started singing with a group of friends at Union Station once and got money thrown at him.

Do you like it?

I just kept doing it because it was really fun, exciting and I meet so many interesting people.

Which stops do you play?

Mostly on the Red and Orange at Twinbrook, Friendship Heights, Glenmont, L’Enfant Plaza, Capitol South and sometimes Shady Grove, Metro Center and Chinatown.


Usually from about 2:30 to 8 p.m.

In the mornings, too?

I used to play morning sometimes, but it means I have to be out the door at about 4:45 a.m., and I’m just not a morning person. I also found that people can be rather groggy and grouchy in the morning.

I thought that that might work to my advantage since the music tends to cheer people up and thus they might tip me better, but I think that the more relaxed atmosphere of being done with a long work day on their way home instead of rushing to get to work on time is more conducive to people stopping to tip me.

How much do you get?

Just for safety’s safe, I’d like to not give information on how much I make. I’ve gotten my money stolen before.

Where do you get the most tips?

At Capitol South, Friendship Heights and L’Enfant Plaza.

Why is that?

I think it’s because those stations tend to have more tourists and visitors than many of the others, mixing up the crowd of regular daily commuters so I get fresh tippers who have never seen me before.

How much have you made doing this?

I”ve made a decent amount, although I never know how much I will make in a day.

Follow me on twitter @postmetrogirl.

From the archives:

Pearls before breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour?

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.



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