How to write an effective bio
Carolyn H. Oh, DMA
A bio is one of the most important materials that you can present to the public. Although you want your artistry to speak for itself, a well-crafted bio can connect you to your audience and bring out your uniqueness while highlighting your accomplishments. Your goal is to write an engaging bio that goes beyond a list of accomplishments.
Here are some general tips:
- Write in third person, and mention your name (usually your first name) a few times throughout the bio.
- Keep it concise and interesting. You want to keep your readers engaged.
- Feel free to be creative with your bio. I have read hundreds of bios, and the best ones that I have read (the ones that I still remember to this day) tend to be more creative and even humorous.
Here are some suggestions on what to include in your bio:
- List your accomplishments (but keep the list short).
- You can list the competitions that you have placed in, awards and prizes that you have received, auditions that you have won, venues that you have performed in, and ensembles that you have performed with.
- However, don’t let your bio be a laundry list of every single notable thing that you have accomplished. You do not want your bio to read like a long list of boring facts. This will be confusing to the readers, as it tends to look just like everyone else’s.
- If you do have a long list of accomplishments, be sure to highlight a selected few accomplishments that are most recent or most important.
- Recognize your teacher(s).
- You did not get to where you are all by yourself, and recognizing your teacher(s) is important and shows your appreciation.
- Tell who you are currently studying with. If you no longer study with a teacher, mention your last or most important teacher(s).
- That being said, you do not need to include every single teacher that you’ve had or that you played for in a master class.
- Mention your musical degrees and where you have studied. Again, try to word it in a concise manner.
- Make it more personal by including one thing that is unique about you.
Here are some ideas for you to incorporate into your bio:
- A compelling story of how or why you chose to pursue your instrument/voice
- Your philosophy behind your artistry
- Your ultimate goal as a musician
- Something that you are intensely passionate about
- A light hearted fun fact about yourself
- Start your bio by properly introducing yourself by including the following:
- Name, instrument/voice type, where you are from
- Age, grade in school and name of school, if you are a young student musician
- When you started singing/playing
- If you have a great media quote that mentions you, include it here.
- If you are well established in your career, start with a short description of what you do.
- End your bio in a memorable way with one of the personal or unique things about yourself (mentioned above) or what you are currently doing.
(All of the names and info are fictional.)
Jane Smith is a 12-year old seventh grader attending Rockland Middle School in Maryland. A middle child of a musical family, it was natural for Jane to be attracted to the middle voice of the string family, and she is proud to be a violist. A student of Sue James, Jane has placed in many competitions, including the Washington Musical Arts Society Memorial String Competition (first prize) and the Concert Artists International Maestro Competition (second prize). Recently, Jane was selected to appear as a soloist on the Rockland Public television show, “Classical Open Stage,” and had a great time performing the Stamitz Viola Concerto. For that past 3 years, she has enjoyed performing in the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO). Jane loves to draw, and is obsessed with anything “Marvel.”
Sarah Lee, a home schooled 17 year old violinist from Washington, D.C., started playing when she was 5 years old. Since then, she has participated in many ensembles, including American Youth Philharmonic, and has won several awards, including Grand Prize in the Encore International Competition and first prize in the Washington Philharmonic Concerto Competition. She passionately believes in the power of music to change lives and make a positive impact in the community. Serving as president of YMIC (Young Musicians Inspiring Change), she has organized and performed in recitals to benefit numerous local and international charities, including One Love 4 Kids and Charity: Water. Sarah currently studies with Heather Hamilton of the Washington Symphony Orchestra and looks forward to attending Columbia University to study music and engineering in the fall.
An American Tenor of Korean heritage, Jay Kim enjoys a career that encompasses oratorio, operand concert work. Dedicated to performing sacred works, he has performed as tenor soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” as well as Bach’s “Magnificat” and “Saint John Passion” on numerous occasions. Specializing in the Bel Canto operas, Jay has recently performed the role of Edgardo in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” with the New York Bel Canto Opera. He received his BM degree from Juilliard and is currently pursuing an MM degree at Mannes under the tutelage of Ruth Robin. He has won top prize in many competitions, including first prize in the Korea Times International Competition. In addition to performing, Jay is passionate about music education and hopes to train students to make an artistic contribution to society.
Praised for her “remarkable intensity and clarity of touch,” (New York Concert Review) pianist Audrey Catko made her Carnegie Hall debut when she was 10 years old. She currently enjoys an active career as soloist, collaborative artist and professor in the Los Angeles area. She has performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world and has won many prizes and awards. She received her music performance degrees from Peabody Conservatory (BM, MM) and University of Southern California (DMA), studying with Marian Hahn and Santiago Velaquez. Dr. Catko has collaborated with many fine artists, including flutist Maxwell Lariman and cellist Benjamin Bailey. Currently, she serves on the music faculty of Liberty University as artist-in-residence, and nothing makes her happier than to see her students try their best.