Topic outline

  • General

    Self Promotion Banner


    Self- Promotion

    Musicians can be the best performers and composers in the world but in a competitive world it is essential to know how to promote yourself in order to make the best of your experience and the opportunities that come your way.


    This area of Moodle includes information about how to promote yourself though CVs, biog, multi media and social networking. It will also include important information on becoming self-employed.

    • Self-Employment

      You are encouraged to access the learning packages below to develop an understanding of the business elements of being a self-employed musician.

    • What should your CV include?

       All CVs should include the following:

      • Your name

      • Your discipline (pianist, tenor, composer, etc)

      • Your address

      • Your contact details: give an e-mail address, but not more than two phone numbers (mobile and home).

      • Your educational record (secondary and beyond)

      • Your qualifications, scholarships, awards, prizes and honours

      • Your skills that might not form part of your educational record (for example, language skills, IT skills, the fact that you hold a clean driver’s licence)

      • Commercial recordings and broadcasts in which you have participated

      • Concerts, masterclasses and workshops in which you have participated

      • References (usually your Principal Study teacher, Head of School or recent employer e.g. Head of Music Service where appropriate)

      Check out the sample CVs and biographies below. You are strongly advised to look at a range of CVs and not those just identified as your instrument or School.

    • Target your CV

      You may wish to target your CV for a specific situation for which you are applying (for instance, auditions or applications for competitions or teaching jobs). It should be no longer than two pages of A4. It needs to be a clearly focused and targeted summary of your relevant skills and experiences so as to have maximum impact on readers.

      Tips for writing targeted CVs

      Remember that a CV targeting a specific job must be tailored to the specific circumstances of the application. Therefore, before you begin to write it, put yourself in the position of the person to whom it is addressed.

      • Which of your experiences and skills are they likely to regard as most important, given the circumstances of the application?
      • What information will they expect to see?
      • What information will they expect not to see?

      Use your common sense to prioritise the information, bearing in mind that you must think from the reader’s perspective. A CV submitted for an orchestral job should list your orchestral experience before your repertoire of concerto solos; you might omit altogether your work experience in arts admin or teaching, unless there is an ‘outreach’ component to the orchestral job you are seeking. Singers looking for opera or music theatre roles should list their theatrical experience before their recital and choral work.


      • Topic 4

        Cut out the junk

        The golden rule here is never to include superfluous information. Include only your most relevant, impressive and interesting experiences. But always bear in mind that your reader may wish to see some detail that you might overlook.


        Here are some examples:

        • If you are applying for recital or ensemble work, list the venues where you have performed as well as naming impressive ensembles and individuals with whom you have previously collaborated.
        • If you are applying for orchestral work, clearly indicate the roles you have played in your previous orchestral experience: for example, whether you were a principal, a section player, or a dep. Also list the dates of employment for your previous orchestral experience.
        • If you are a singer auditioning for a stage role, you should include casting information (such as height) at the head of your résumé. When you list your theatrical experience you should include full roles, partial roles, and scenes performed. Some singers like to list their experience chronologically; others prefer to list first their most substantial roles or those most relevant to the application. You should present your previous roles in columns: first the name of your character; then the title of the opera (in italic script), with the name of the composer if the work is not a repertory piece or there is potential confusion between two works (Verdi’s and Rossini’s Otello, for example); then the company, director and conductor; last the venue and date. You might also have a category of ‘roles prepared’.   
        • Topic 5

          Break down your experiences

          Choose a series of categories, giving each one a title to guide your reader. While the number and order of titles will be configured to reflect the circumstances of the application, you may wish to draw from the following list:


          • Premieres
          • Recordings
          • Commissions
          • Solo recitals
          • Orchestral Experience
          • Choral Experience
          • Accompanying
          • Stage Roles
          • Ensemble Work/ Chamber Music Performances
          • Coaching
          • ‘Has performed with’/ ‘Has collaborated with’
          • Honours/awards
          • Principal Teachers
          • Education
          • Educational Workshops
          • Publishers
          • Masterclasses
          • Residencies
          • Topic 6

            Substance and style

            Take great care over the style of your CV. In general, go for a well-designed eye-catching letterhead. Organise your credentials into ordered categories. Keep the style of the body of your text plain and sober. Use only one reader-friendly font (such as Palatino, Arial, Helsinki, or Times New Roman). Avoid at all costs more florid fonts (such as Castellar, Bradley Hand, Gigi, etc). Keep other distractions to a minimum. Use sparingly: underlining, bold, italics, caps, bullets, brackets.

            Proof read your CV several times before you submit it. Carefully check the names of any teachers, conductors, venues, awards and prizes. If your spelling or grammar is faulty, all the good work you have done with the content of your résumé will count for nothing.

            • The Art of Self-Promotion

              Advice from the CBSO

              Director Simon Webb advises: ‘Make your CV easy to understand and two pages maximum. Read it back as if you are the one recruiting. Concentrate on experience, don’t exaggerate and always proofread it.’

              Unlike some orchestras, the CBSO is not interested in photos or audio/ video links, aiming to audition as many musicians as possible. And if you have not been chosen to play, Webb says:

              ‘Do ask for feedback — drop us a line and say “Why not?” and you’ll get an honest answer.’


              Extract from 'The Art of Self-Promotion' see below for complete article

              Bill Kerr, MU National Organiser, Orchestras, suggests studying each set of requirements carefully, submitting exactly what is asked for and no more. As is common, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) requests a covering letter, a CV and a completed application form (including details of visa status).

            • Diary Services & Agents

              The Musicians' Answering Service will give you some insight into the kinds of experiences agents and fixers are looking.

               Task: Go to the link below and see which type of work you think each player is targetting. Consider the different formats and find one which suits you.


              Morgensterns specialises in providing diary service for professional musicians and are in daily contact with fixers from all the leading UK orchestras.

              Task: Go to the link below and read Liam Abramson's advice on preparing a CV and information on sourcing and producing photos.