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How to write a good classical musician bio

It's crucial is to understand and master the three steps you need to create your professional curriculum vitae

A good biography is nothing more than making an appealing story out of your curriculum vitae, says artist manager Irma de Jong.

Creating a biography is something I know stresses many people out. It’s something they don’t like to do – they wait until the very last second, and sometimes the biography comes out messy or too long because they don’t know what to write or think they do not have the talent to write.

To work on a complete, bright, and attractive biography is crucial for you. It is part of your branding!

Facts and figures

To assemble the facts and figures that shaped your career in a logical order, you need to work methodically and precisely.

Start with your education, when, where, and with whom you started and continued your studies.

Next, write down milestones like prizes won at competitions, special awards, or graduations.

Then move on to your stage experience, including solo and chamber music, and finish by assembling the masterclasses and summer courses you attended and with whom.

Should you have made recordings make sure to mention them, the year of production, the repertoire; any reviews with links are also helpful.

What’s your story? I don’t need a biography – I want your story!

In my life, I’ve seen a huge number of biographies. So when I started to work as a PR and marketing trainee at an orchestra, one of the first things I had to do was edit biographies.

How can we build an exciting and appealing biography out of the facts and figures? A suitable method is to use an interview format.

Interview yourself, or have someone interview you. Take the sheet with the dry figures and facts and start to tell the story that comes with it. Just usually talk as if you had a conversation, and record your voice.

After you interview yourself, sit down with the recording and put it on paper as a storytelling biography. Feel free to write it out roughly and start polishing only after!

Now you have two parts of the biography:

  • a facts and figures sheet
  • a story

Extract a short and long version and the elevator pitch

From your long story-telling biography, you must extract a short version. Remember that any organiser or promoter will never use the entire length. To ensure that they use the best elements, prepare a short version of your biography with essential information and no more than 350 words in length.

What will you use your biography for?

To apply for a position at an orchestra? Or for a competition? Do you have a concert and the promoter asked you for a biography? Do you want to write to a festival, or promoter, to present yourself?

You have to write differently and mix your ‘magic ingredients’ for each purpose.

Let’s sum it up!

Start building your biography with a couple of mixed and reconstructed elements according to purpose.

We have:

  • FACTS: The base for your biography; build on the dry facts
  • A STORY: The story that comes with the facts
  • FLAVOURS: What colours light up your biography? Do you want to put them in the front?
  • IMPRESSION MAKERS: What impresses people? Did you perform with a famous orchestra? Have you won an exceptional price? In what way are you unique in your performance?

Compose a short biography and have your elevator pitch ready!

Make sure you have a biography of no more than 700 words; compose a shorter version of 350 words and an ‘elevator pitch’ of three sentences.

Use headlines and paragraphs to make your biography ‘scannable’ for people reading your website. If you have them, use positive quotes from the press as a headliner. Add some personal texts, a personal quote, or your artist’s life mission. 

Last but not least: find your style and be authentic.

Online courses

Irma de Jong has created an online self-management course for musicians to empower and encourage artists to charge their careers.

Writing a good biography is a part of this course, which includes a three-step plan for creating the perfect base biography for all activities.

Are you ready to boost your career 100%? A Private Interactive Course is also available.

A crucial change in the direction of your career will not happen overnight. That’s why Irma needs to work with you for at least two months, with each week, on different topics of your career planning to be treated depending on the plan you’ll establish together. After that, you’ll work directly on implementing the skills she teaches.

About the author 

Irma de Jong
Irma de Jong

Irma de Jong is an Artist and Project Manager and owner of Cicerone Music & Art agency.

She has worked in the classical music field for more than 30 years and has collaborated with many renowned artists and orchestras. 

She is also the executive director of iClassical Academy.