Archive for January, 2010

How to Write a Music Bio

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

By Sarah Luebke
Republished with permission from Music Teachers

60607384.redshoe-150x150Some of you may have seen the Boston Globe article last December about a Boston University voice teacher who had allegedly embellished career milestones on her personal bio, which had been posted on the university’s website and published in university programs and brochures. For a look at last month’s article, click here.

It can be tempting to write a bio that you think prospective students or even your colleagues want to read. Some voice teachers I met rank their past performing career as paramount in their bios, without much mention of their current career as teacher. For some of these teachers, it has been 15 or 20 years since their performing career, and you wonder where the information about their teaching is hidden. And, like Prof. Daniels and Boston University, you may take what little information there is on your career, and put it in an obscure if not totally truthful light.

As teachers who are always peddling their business to prospective students, it is important to write a bio that is honest, which fully discloses your qualifications as well as your accolades in the field of teaching. Here are a few tips on how to write a compelling, yet truthful biography.

1. Your professional bio should be a few paragraphs, and should not exceed one page. A short amount of information, left justified, is easier for the reader to digest and skim.

2. Always write your bio in third person. Refer to yourself by your name and “he/she” as appropriate. For example, “Ms. Smith is an active member of the Minnesota NATS organization.”

3. Not only do prospective students want to know what you do, but also whom you work with—because they might want to work with you! A professional bio should include a sentence or two about your business niche, as well as the types of students you may teach. Here you may also mention famous students you have worked with (over a longer period of time than one lesson), or the awards and honors your students have received recently.

4. Make sure you include a list of awards you have received. It is a good thing to advertize your talents and the organizations that recognize you for them, but again, keep this clear and honest.

5. Include names of organizations, clubs or associations to which you belong. These connections might lead to a connection with a potential student.

6. Include any professional certifications or designations you hold. Write out their names in full for clarification.

7. Have you written any articles, books, or blogs? Self-published or not, your works add to your level of professionalism and credibility.

8. Were you or your business featured on or mentioned in a newspaper article? Have you been a guest on any media show? Include this information, as this adds to your credibility and presence.

9. After you have written your bio, edit, edit, and edit again!

You may need to do a dozen revisions before you get it right. Eliminate extra words, use descriptive words, keep the sentences short yet varied in length, and have a variety of friends read it. Ask if the information is clear, if the bio was easy to digest, and if the information is not misleading. Make sure to revise your bio regularly to keep it up-to-date and refreshed.

For the Kids: Recording 101

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

By Debbie Cavalier
Republished with permission from Debbie Cavalier Music Blog

As many of you know, I have a children/family music project called Debbie and Friends. It’s a fun, creative, musical project that allows me to try all of the wonderful things we teach online in music production, songwriting, arranging, and music business, while making connections with families through music.

For the past eight months, we’ve been recording our second CD, More Story Songs and Sing Alongs, and finding many teachable moments for families with young kids throughout the process. The following post takes apart a rhythm section recording of our new song “So So Happy,” and allows kids to listen to each track individually. I originally posted this on my kid’s and family music blog, Kids Music Matters. The response has been so positive that I thought I’d share it here as well, for those of you who may want to explore the recording process with your kids.

In the Recording Studio with Debbie and Friends!

First, let’s listen to the whole song. Then we’ll listen to the individual parts (or tracks) we recorded.
So So Happy – in production by Debbie and Friends

With our producer Mike Carrera guiding the way, we recorded the rhythm section tracks for “So, So, Happy” (drums, bass, guitar, and piano). Let’s listen to each individual rhythm section instrument we recorded for “So, So, Happy,” and meet the players. (Some you may recognize as your Berkleemusic instructors.)

Drums with Bill D’Agostino.

Bill D’Agostino on drums.

Drums – So, So Happy by Debbie and Friends

Bass with Danny “Mo” Morris.

Danny Mo
Danno Mo on bass.

Bass – “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Guitar with Kevin Belz.

Kevin Belz on guitar.

Guitar – “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Keyboard with Dave Limina.

Dave Limina on piano (also plays organ).

Keyboard – “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Now that you’ve heard the different parts, challenge each other to listen for the individual instrument parts when they are all mixed together. I hope you and your family enjoyed exploring the recording process. It’s fun to do this with other recordings you listen to together as well.

Guide to Networking: Part 1-Social Networking

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

By Andy Zweibel
Republished with permission from Music Major

social-networking-logos1As Music Education Majors, one way we can help prepare for the teaching world during our studies is by networking. Meeting the people who will eventually be our colleagues and administrators will help prepare us for the job search, increase our knowledge in the field, and leave us better-equipped to find the job we’re looking for. This 3-part series looks at three different ways we can use networking to our advantage.

Before diving into this very broad topic, think about these questions:

* How many hours do you spend on the computer?

* Of those hours, how many of them are on Facebook?

* When you’re on the computer, how would you rank the ways in which you use it? (think: schoolwork, talking to friends, listening to music)

The term social networking is one that tends to scare a lot of people. In reality, many of us already engage in social networking on a daily basis! We just network with our firends and family, instead of professionals in our field. Regardless of how we go about it (this post will outline just a few of your many options), any means of meeting current music educators online can be considered social networking, and will help you create relationships that will help you as you prepare for your job search.

What Are The Benefits of These Relationships?

There are many benefits to establishing relationships with other people (current and future professionals) in your field. Here are a few ways you can gain from having other Music Education students, as well as current teachers or administrators, as a part of your social networks:

1. Mentorship – When you begin teaching, it will be extremely helpful having experienced teachers in your network to talk to. These people can act as mentors to you, helping you through the potentially difficult situations you may encounter in your first year teaching.

2. Collaboration – As a whole, the Music Education curriculum does not vary very much from one college/university to another. All students will take certain courses, and having other Music Education majors in your social network can give you the opportunity to bounce ideas off of like-minded peers. Additionally, this can give you the opportunity to discuss certain ideas that may not have been discussed in a course at your school, but were brought up in a similar class at a school one of your peers attends.

3. Job Hunt – When it comes time to look for jobs, it will be to your benefit to have name recognition in the area you want to teach. One way to do this is to establish relationships with professionals in the field.

What Kind of Relationships?

One reason many college students shy away from the idea of social networking on a professional level is that they worry about needing to have professionally-oriented discussions all times. This is actually not the case, and in fact, developing a more informal relationship with a current teacher/administrator has the potential to be almost more of a help than a formal, exclusively professional relationship. What does this mean? Don’t feel like you have to discuss business ALL the time! There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to talk sports, fashion, or whatever else interests you both. This will help you stand out among other future teachers in some people’s eyes; it’s good for people to see that you’re human!

That being said, there are a few considerations to take place any time you are discussing with someone who has the potential to become an employer, colleague, or student in the future. Here are some things to think about to that end:

* Don’t have public pictures of yourself engaging in illegal or otherwise dangerous activities (underage drinking, drugs, excessive drinking, etc.). If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your grandmother seeing it, don’t make it public!

* Use proper grammar and punctuation. Show people that you are a mature, educated person by refraining from using common short-hand communication like “thx, lol, u.” Use proper capitalization and punctuation (think capital “I’s” and apostrophe’s in “don’t, can’t, etc.). Even if the topic of conversation is informal, showing that you’re well educated will make a good first impression.

* Be thoughtful. Show that you’re thinking about what is being said, and are taking into consideration the ideas that are being brought up to you. Nothing turns someone away more than feeling as though the person they’re talking to isn’t listening to them.

Where Do I Start?

Here’s the best part-you probably already have! Here are a few social networking services you may want to be involved in, as well as a short explanation of it’s advantages. Also included are resources for finding professionals in the field of Music Education on these networks.

1. Facebook
Believe it or not, this social network that almost everybody is on already can be beneficial for more than just connecting with friends. If you start to connect with current educators, this connection can bring even more connections! Consider becoming a fan of the Band Director Facebook Page to find discussion on issues involving instrumental music education. Also, if you haven’t already, check out the new Music Education Major Facebook Page!

2. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a less popular (but by no means less useful) network that is more professionally oriented. It allows users to keep a record of their professional experience and connect with other users to see their ‘resumes.’ When you connect with someone, you are asked to explain how know that person (coworker, employer, employee, collaborated, etc.). You can even specify the job during which you met this person from the list of positions you told LinkedIn you have held. LinkedIn also provides the opportunity for someone you worked with to recommend you, discussing positive contributions that you brought to the project. It allows other users considering whether or not to work with you the opportunity to see how you have contributed to other projects you participated in.

LinkedIn is a great way to network on a professional level with other teachers, future teachers, and administrators. It also is extremely helpful in allowing you to keep track of your experiences and qualifications. If you, like many others, don’t update your resume often, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to keep track of what you’ve been up to, and a great point of reference once it is time to update it!

3. Twitter
Twitter is a “micro-blogging” service that allows users to post their status (in a similar way to Facebook) with updates that can’t exceed 140 characters. One of the great parts of this service is that it forces you to be concise in what you say. The other great aspect of Twitter is the fact that it can connect you to tons of people you may have never otherwise expected to meet. Twitter is extremely user-friendly, and there is almost no learning curve.

There are also tons of services that you can use to locate Music Educators on Twitter. Here are just a few:

* Twitter Lists (like Dr. J. Pisano’s)
* WeFollow
* Twellow
* Search for #musiced or “Music Education” on Twitter to see who’s talking about it

4. Blogging
People tend to have this idea that you need to be an expert on a certain topic to blog about it. I urge you to take a step back, however, and think about what the word “blog” actually means; it is just a shortened way of saying “web log.” In other words, a blog is nothing more than a public online journal. Blogs are great places for gathering information and learning from a wide variety of people in a wide variety of areas and disciplines, as well as a fantastic way to make connections to other Music Educators blogging (believe it or not, there are tons; check out J. Pisano’s 100 ME Bloggers!).

There are plenty of blogging platforms that are all extremely easy to pick up. My personal favorite is WordPress (self-hosted, free), and many others prefer Blogger. For more short-form blogs that serve as an intermediate ground between full blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter, check out Posterous and Tumblr.
What Are You Waiting For?

One of the most intimidating parts of getting into social networking is just getting started. It can be intimidating at first, joining a website/network and not having any “friends” on it yet, but hopefully the list of resources above will help you get started. My biggest piece of advice is don’t wait one more minute: get started NOW! These services are great ways to meet other music educators to have questions answered, and establish relationships that could help you down the road. There is a wealth of information and opportunities out there for the taking.