Your Bio is Boring (and so is mine)


Listening to a live concert can be a truly special thing. Hearing and feeling music first hand, performed right before your eyes can never be replaced. But let’s face it; there are moments, mostly the slow movements, where some audience members check out. I watch them, flipping through their programs, reading notes, bios, the advertisements; anything to pass the time until something exciting starts up again.

On a few occasions where I’m not playing and actually get to attend a concert, I have been grateful there was a program book to flip through. And it doesn’t take long  to figure out that most artist bios are extremely predictable and more often than not, rather boring.

I know firsthand how hard it is to write a bio and then struggle every few years when it is time to make updates. Should I stick with the cold hard facts? Add some humor? Put a hobby down? What!?!

During this past month I found it necessary to update my bio so I started looking at bios from other soloists, orchestra musicians, conductors, etc., to see if I could find a style I liked and then emulate it.

The problem is, just about every bio I found followed the same boring and predictable pattern regardless of how long the artist has been around: The Artist started instrument at a strikingly early age; The Artist wins prestigious award; The Artist attended some amazing school and/or festival; The Artist was reviewed in a certain paper of note followed by an excerpt from said review. Blah blah blah.

That’s all fine since it helps an audience member justify spending $50-$100 on a ticket to hear the The Artist, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something a bit more creative? I’m not saying the bio should be in MadLib form (although the more I think about it, the more I like the idea), just that there should be a fresher approach to connect with audience with a format that is engaging while descriptive.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing (and perhaps more honest) if a bio started something like this:

It was assumed at an early age that The Artist would become a world class violinist when his parents discovered he’d broken the lock to his mother’s violin case and started to “play” with her instrument.

Or how about this:

The Artist never intended on playing the cello, but after enrolling in 6th grade orchestra because he had a crush on a viola player, The Artist actually found his true love with the cello.

I’m going to continue working on my latest bio revision, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear about any interesting bios you have come across.

About Holly Mulcahy

After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. She currently serves as concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival. Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society. Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.

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9 thoughts on “Your Bio is Boring (and so is mine)”

  1. I think Ms. Mulcahy’s bio is interesting, professional, and succinct.
    Bios for those who are securing performers need uncluttered information
    w/o the comedic overtone(s).

  2. Well said, Ms. Mulcahy. As a former engineer and manager, I’ve seen far too many resumes that read as either a tribute to the ego of the writer or something that makes anything by James Joyce seem terse.

    As a failed musician, I lean towards the light and brief. No one needs in-depth information about what one did 15 years ago.

  3. I agree with you, I’ve read wayyy too many dry boring artist bios! I recommend two bios: the factoid resume version for artistic administrators, and a more layman’s version for the public. Audiences assume you’ve been well trained and have lots of experience, or you wouldn’t be on stage. Certainly, if you won the Tchaikovsky Violin Competition or a Grammy, keep those in there. People want to know more about the artist as a human being, such as composers you love the most, what you do for a hobby such as collecting Hummels or being a rabid foodie on the road, if you march for Breast Cancer, adore kitty cats, if you’re married and have kids, perhaps the city you call home. Don’t be afraid to open up a little in the program book! You’ll have much more fun at post-concert receptions.

    • Good point about having more fun at post-concert receptions. So many times an audience member is searching for some common ground to get a conversation going. Thanks for your comment!


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