Develop your career 21cMusician toolkit Your Portfolio Ten tips for fine-tuning your biography A biography forms an essential part of your website, publicity materials and audition or funding applications, but it’s not always easy to get the content and tone right. Here are YCAT’s top ten tips for writing informatively and engagingly. Open with the important stuff. It doesn’t have to be chronological! Katy Jones is a London-based pianist in demand as a performer, composer and teacher. ✅ Katy Jones began learning the piano when she was three, and took up the violin at the age of six. ❌ Structure information clearly. You may want one paragraph for recent engagements, another for prizes and awards, and another for education. If you have a multi-faceted career, grouping together different aspects of your work will help create clarity. Be specific where you can and cut out the waffle! Instead of saying that you have ‘performed widely’ or ‘won numerous prizes’, do include venues/cities and awards/dates. Have more than one version. It’s helpful to have a long and short version of your biography as there will be circumstances where each is useful. You may also want to tweak the focus or even the tone of your biography for different purposes. An audition panel is likely to focus on different aspects of your training and accomplishments to a music society which requires a biography for their publicity, so... Always keep your reader in mind! Avoid cliches. You may be ‘one of the greatest pianists/violinists/bassoonists of your generation’, but leave that for other people to say about you! Instead focus on what truly makes you unique. Make sure it’s up to date. Keeping your biography fresh and relevant will give others an accurate snapshot of your career to date, and also provide you with an opportunity for reflection and reevaluation. Get inspired! Read other artists’ biographies. What is effective? What catches your attention? Include reviews if you have them, ensuring that you credit where/who they are from. If you are including a recommendation from an established artist, get their permission first. Proofread proofread proofread. And get a friend or colleague to look over it as well. Someone somewhere will notice that misspelt venue or rogue apostrophe!