Is the current musical story that you like to tell about yourself full of your awards, your previous teachers (from 20 years ago), the festivals you played at in 1991, and the numerous fancy degrees you’ve earned? First, well done on that.
Secondly? –and I am going to be blunt here– please spare us, even just a little. If that’s all you like to share, it’s pretty ding-dang boring for the majority of us mortals (read: your audience, or to be more direct, the fine people who probably help to fund your mortgage).
Don’t get me wrong. Of course we want to read that you’ve been success around the globe– after all, we’ve paid our hard-earned cash to hear you play, haven’t we? But because you are an Incredible Big Deal, we also want to know what makes you tick and erm, well, more interesting.
Your musical value in this world is definitely not determined by your C. V.
What makes you roll out of bed in the morning ready to make music? What is about you that is you different than the other tuba player on the block? Why did you decide to be a musician when you could be, say, a dog walker on the beach in California, or a nuclear scientist in Austria?
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas that might make your musical bio a little less snooze-fest and a little more ‘yes, please’, use these fill-in-the-blank questions to spark some ideas to help you get clear about who you are musically.
Let them become part of the musical story that you tell, too. Then? We’ll love you even more than we do already.
1) When people ask why I chose to play (your instrument), I usually say “___________________________________________________________________”.
But really? Very few people know that another reason is because_______________.
2) I grew up in (city, state, country), and the one single (type of music/ song/ musician) from this region that sends me straight back to the place I grew up in would definitely have to be__________________________. Speaking of my childhood, I grew up with this one song constantly in the background of where we lived, and it was called _____________. Though now that I think about it, only because my ____________________ really loved it, maybe even a bit too much.
3) If for some zany reason I could no longer perform with (your instrument) I’d choose (another instrument) instead, mostly because ___________________________________. I would not, however, in a million years want to study (another instrument)– but please don’t be offended. It’s simply because _______________.
4) My favourite quote of all time is the one that goes “____________________”.
The curious thing is that even though it might not be about music per se, it connects to my own playing in a roundabout way because ______________________.
5) My first teacher was _____________________. During every single lesson we had together, this teacher made it very clear that they (thought/ felt/ knew/heard/ saw) two things about my playing:______________________________, and _________________________. Now if I were to meet them again, they’d probably still (agree with/ want to eat) those words. (Snap!)
6) If I were a guest DJ on the radio and I had to choose one song to dedicate to each of my loved ones during that broadcast, I’d pick
For my mother _____________
For my lover___________
For my best friend______________
For my grandparent________________
For my sibling__________________
For my child______________
For my grandchild__________________
For my father____________________
For my favourite pet__________________
7) The curious thing is that even though it’s wacky to think about, these songs that I’d play for my loved ones on the radio have three similar things in common: _____________________, _________________, and ______________.
8) If I were given two weeks away, a first-class plane ticket to any country in the world, + unlimited expense funds in order to study any type of music, I would hands-down go to______________. I would immerse myself in (genre of music), and specifically want to learn from this musical genius: (person, group, band, professor).
9) On the other hand, the music that no one would ever find me studying– even if someone gave me the big bucks for it– would most undoubtedly be ________________________________, because in my opinion it______________________ and _______________________.
10) If I were given 4 hours in one of the top recording studios in (your favourite city), one of the best sound engineers at my disposal, and my choice of (#) musicians to play with, I’d most definitely record _________________ with______________.
11) There is an artist called _______________that really makes music that annoys me to bits. In fact, when they (sing/play/perform) it actually makes my skin crawl. I think it’s because______________, __________________________ and ___________________. Actually, come to think of it, those are probably things I try to avoid in my own playing, too.
12) After I assemble my (instrument) I usually do this little (very common/ unusual/ quirky/ annoying/ soulful/ embarrassing/ fantastic/ ridiculous) ritual: _______________________.
13) __________ is always a marvelous idea when playing (your instrument), however ______________ is a definite NO.
14) I’ve always wanted to play in an ensemble that’s wildly____________.
15) The three most inspirational artists – though not musicians, mind you— who have inspired me have been (list three inspirational painters, writers, poets, sculptors, dancers, actors, architects, etc)
This is because when I see/ hear/ read/ feel/smell/ watch their work it makes me want to really
16) If I were to go to a desert island and live alone for 21 days, I’d take this single book/ magazine/ newspaper__________________. This piece of art___________________ and this musical album______________________.
17) If I were given one uninterrupted week to memorise one piece of music in order to to perform it everyday for a month straight, I’d have to choose ______________. This is because_____________________________.
18) The (type of music/ song/ genre) is what I’d play alone with no one listening or even watching. I’d be in (a location), wearing (or not wearing)________________. I’d look out across (the location you chose) and see____________________________ in the distance. The air would smell like _____________ and taste of ________________. The temperature would be__________________________against my skin. Before I started playing, I’d hear____________________. This would be the ultimate ________________.
19) If I had to write a bio that omitted all my past teachers, my awards, my degrees, my previous festival appearances, and my publications, people would know that I am musically unique beyond these formalities, because I give __________________ and _____________ to the world.
20) When I am living out my last days on this miraculous planet, I will be remembered for one simple, clear-cut thing in my music-making. It is _____________________________________.
Want to really share what you do with the planet? Why not be even more brave and post one of your answers in the comment box below. Go on, I double-dog-times triple-dog-dare ya.
Want an example of how I tell my own musical story (including how the world’s largest flat enchilada was the instigator?) Click here.