Let's continue to forge ahead with essential materials that every professional musician needs. Today, we're going to start writing about ourselves. I understand writing about yourself is hard. Most of us don't have a lot of experience doing it, we may be uncomfortable, we may feel like tuning in our own horn is somehow not a very proper thing to do. I know that's how I was raised. Don't do it. You're on aren't kid. But as musicians we are going to be required to write about ourselves. Well, you're either going to have to write some narrative or bio for a grant application. If we are putting up a website and we want to have an about page, we're going to have to have some pros telling the world about ourselves. Certainly, if you are a concert artist, you're going to have to write a bio for the program, for program notes and things like that. No matter what format we're talking about, it's incredibly important that you learn how to tell your musical story. You would think that given the importance of that, that musicians would spend a lot of time crafting a really, really well-written [inaudible], but unfortunately, you would be wrong. Here's the problem most artists bios are boring. They just are. It's because they are a recitation of facts. They're not tailored to their particular audience, and they don't inspire us to want to hear what you have to say or want to get to know you. How many bios have you read that start with so and so went to school at this place, especially younger artists. I'm always say if that's the most interesting thing you can tell us about yourself was where you went to school, I'm not interested in learning anything more. Or they will list all of the competitions or all of the famous places that they've performed, or all of the great conductors they've worked with. That's one list after another. It's just a recitation of facts. The problem is, is that if this is for a general audience, they often don't even know who these people are or why these are such great polls or why these are famous conductors. It's a general audience, they don't really care about any of that stuff. They're going to assume that if they are paying money for a ticket to see you perform, that you're going to be good at what you do. They don't need to know that you won the who didn't get competitions. It's irrelevant. I like to say that we, as musicians, we'd like reading those things in each other's bios because we're competitive. Let's just be honest. It's like saying oh so they went there and they studied with that person oh they must be good. Or really wow, okay. It's not much of a pedigree, but they're here, so I guess I'll give them a chance. You know that we all do that. But the fellow musician that below professional musician the tiny, tiny little sliver of your audience and it's not who you're trying to reach. You're trying to reach again, if it is a general audience, a much, much different demographic that is interested in understanding you. This is the problem with boring bios. We need to find out ways to have our bios be interesting and compelling and inspire the reader to want, to listen to your music making and to want to get to know more about you as an artist. A good bio tells a story. Why are you in music? How did you get into this thing? How did you get started under particular instrument? That is often a very fun story. Well, I was in fourth grade and they needed an oboe player so the band director handed me this thing and said here, play this, and I fell in love. Well, that's kind of a whole story. Let us hear something about your journey. You've got to have a first line that is interesting enough to make us want to keep reading like any good piece of writing. I used to say that I like my metric for whether or not I'm going to read the short story in The New Yorker. I need to get through the first paragraph and if at the end of the first paragraph and I want to keep reading, I will read the rest of the story. If I'm not hooked by, then I read the cartoons and I continue. Think about how you want to open this juicy, fun little piece of information to offer up to the audience that makes them say huh, well that sounds interesting. Make it sound like you. Let's see the other reason why our bios are boring is that they all sound exactly the same. They have the same passive recitative voice. That is not interesting and it's not in any way distinctive. Be yourself, be you. How do you get started? First of all, go back to your mission statement that we did in the course one, and look for language about your motivation, for your reason, for doing what you're doing. Maybe by now with all the work that we did in the course two about branding and these things. Maybe you want to revisit your mission statement is a starting point for. Now actually I think I could say that a little better or I think that's not really quite what I meant. Go ahead and use this as an opportunity to polish your mission statement a little bit because that's the thing that benefits from continued polishing. Now as I said, most folks have interesting stories about how they ended up playing their instrument, how they discovered music. For me, it's less that and more about the story of how I decided to become a professional musician. When I made that choice, that decision, because it wasn't when I was in high school, it wasn't even when I was in college. It was quite a bit later. What interesting stories can you tell about your musical journey? There's probably things in there that maybe you've never thought about. You just take them for granted. But this is a good opportunity again, to go back to family and close friends who know something about your journey and might offer you some insights into something that they would find interesting. Decide what kind of narrative you want to tell. For me, for instance, the narrative is this windy, twisty path that in the end, ended up putting me in a really great place. Maybe your path is one of the fiery commitment and passion from your earliest memory. Maybe it's one of, I started out playing the flute, but then I came to start to composing, and all of a sudden, I realized that I really wanted to be a composer, or I really wanted to be a conductor, or I never thought I'd be a college professor, but here I am. Whatever it might be, decide what is the narrative you want to tell. Choose the accomplishments and the prizes you want and where you went to school. Choose those ones that support the narrative. Don't just throw a bunch of stuff in there and start making laundry lists, because that's when we get into the boring part. Then run it past to your friends. Because most likely, you're going to be telling yourself as you're writing this thing, "Oh, my God, this makes me sound so arrogant, or conceited, or I'm too full of myself." Again, if you run past to your friends and colleagues, they are always a great sounding board because they will point out, "Well, what about this? What about this? I can't believe that you didn't highlight this, like you're awesome in these areas and you skip it over." They will usually give you that reality check, and if it does come off once maybe a little too over the top, they will also tell you to back off. But usually, it's the opposite problem. Okay, the next thing to think about is, just like we said, you're going to need different kinds of resumes for teaching and performance. You're going to need different versions of your bio. Depending on the parts of your portfolio of career that you have, you may want to tailor your bio to different things. I have a bio that's much more focused on composition, and then I have another one that's really focused on my work in arts entrepreneurship. That's more of the educator or advocate thought leader type stuff. Then there's composer, performer. You might have even more than that. If I had a private studio or something like that, I might even have a third one. The other different versions that you may have is that you're going to need different durations. Sometimes people will want the full monty, a thousand words or so, don't go longer than that. I don't care how famous you are. But actually, the more famous you are, the less you have to list all of the things you've done because again, we don't care. Do we care how many awards Yo-Yo Ma has won? No. We want to know what he's up to these days. We want to know what his next cool endeavor is. Don't go past 1,000 words. A medium would be about 500 words. That's enough for most people to tell a decent story. But oftentimes, particularly for concert programs or other situations, social media, whoever is asking you for this bio, they may want one that's quite short, 100 words or less. That has to be very concise and very carefully chosen about what you want to say. Obviously, once you get down to there, it's less about telling some expansive narrative and more about just giving a condensed sense of who you are and what you're about. Then sometimes they will literally want one sentence. Let's just look at a couple of different kinds. This is my general bio. This is the one that's on the front page of my website. I hope you can read that if not, go back and give a careful look later. But I think that my favorite part of this bio, if I do say so myself, is the first line. Jeffrey Nytch enjoys a rich and diverse career as a composer, performer, educator, and advocate. It hasn't been a straight line getting there. That's interesting. What happened? Tell me about this. He spent much of his teen years exercising an uncanny ability to make money in the stock market, true, and dreamed of someday going to Wall Street and conquering the world. This kid is precocious at the very least. Then there was the study of geology, which nearly took him down a different path altogether. But throughout it all, the music has been the abiding passion in his heart. In the end, it won out with his career as well. Now that's like, I've told a story about myself. Then the next two paragraphs, flesh out that story a little bit and they drop in some little things where I've taught, the fact that I ran a new music ensemble. I talk about where I'm at now. I'm in Colorado, I run the center, I've published a book and the geology of Colorado is right here and everything has come full circle. That's not so bad. I think that's about 400 words or so. Here's one that's a 120 words. This one is more facty, it's a little bit more listy; 120 words. I want people to see right up front, that I'm the author of this book published by Oxford University Press. Now something that was the end of the previous version, is at the top of this one. Because it's the thing I most want to highlight, if I only have a few words to talk about myself. I referenced the fact that I'm a composer who's had my works performed and then I go down to Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for music, what I'm doing right now. Here's the super-short bio, literally just my title. One other thing, I had to pick one thing, that I wanted to convey in this. I wanted to say, I'm a living figure in the field of arts entrepreneurship, period. Again, different types of different emphases. My composition stuff is going to focus more on projects that define my purposeful writing music. Why am I a composer? What do I want my music to do in the world? By the way, I've won this prize and had my stuff done there in bla bla. The entrepreneurship is going to work more focus on my scholarship, the book, my work at University of Colorado. That's where I can throw in the publications, the professional recognitions, residencies, that kind of thing. That's going to be a different list of things. The point is that in the end, your pile should be something that you enjoy reading. If it feels dry or stuffy or inauthentic to you, then you can bet it's going to feel that way, to other audiences. That's partly why I shared examples of my own bios here, not to toot my own horn, but to model for you that it is okay for us to talk about ourselves. It's okay for us to talk about the things that we're proud of. It's okay to say, "If you want to know one thing about me, this is what I want you to know. " Those are legitimate things, we do not need to feel uncomfortable or awkward about doing that. I wanted to try to model that for you with my own examples. Remember also that you've got to put yourself in the place of whoever is in your audience. This goes back to one of the core principles of entrepreneurship that we talked all the way back, beginning the second course, where we talked about the entrepreneurs maximum. We said, "What are the traits of entrepreneurial thinking and action?" One of them is customer focus. This is another example of customer focus. You're not writing the bio for you. You're not writing the bio for your colleagues who may be looking and then, [inaudible]. You're writing it for your audience. Depending on who your audience is, you want them to read this thing and go, "This sounds like somebody I'd like to get to know a little bit better. That sounds like somebody I certainly want to hear what they're going to do with this concerto, that's coming up." Or, "Why they commissioned this piece? I want to learn more about that. I want to see them at the reception afterwards and go up and actually have a conversation with them because they sound interesting." We're all people with interesting stories and interesting things to share. That's what you want to have come out of reading of your bio. Like so many other things we've talked about in the specialization, your first swing might be a little rough. Don't get discouraged, give yourself time to do it. Don't wait till the last minute someone says, ''Oh, we need your bio and it's due in two hours," and you go, "Oh let me just write up some stuff." Give yourself time, run it by your friends, bounce ideas off each other. Whatever you need to do to help you hear the words, maybe it's helpful for you to read it out loud. I often read my own writing out loud because it helps me hear it in a different way. Whatever works for you, give yourself time to go through a creative process and create something that's meaningful. Don't short change. This is really important thing because, it is oftentimes the first way that people encounter your artistic voice and how you speak about that artistic voice is incredibly important, and it's valuable and it's worth taking the time to get it right. Next up, Cover letters.