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Angela Myles Beeching | Beyond Talent Consulting
The Professional Musician's Roadmap
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Beyond Talent:
Creating a Successful Career in Music
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Résumé Facelift

MONDAY BYTES — October 24, 2016

Fall is a terrific time to upgrade your promotional materials: it’s a new season for grant applications, auditions, and jobs. So this week I’ve got 10 tips to polish up your performance or composition résumé, the nuts and bolts of how to put your best foot forward professionally!


Full disclosure: I’m opinionated! And my advice is based on what I’ve seen work well for clients as well as for the students and alumni I’ve worked with over the years.

Below are 4 Don’ts and 10 Do’s to help you upgrade your résumé. Some of these may feel like “duh!” but check them out to see if there’s any new days that will help you. And I’m always interested in alternate viewpoints and experience. My intention here is to help you feel secure about how you’re presenting yourself professionally.

What to Avoid: 4 “Don’ts”

1. Don’t use a “one size fits all” approach: one generic résumé for all purposes. Instead, tailor several different versions of your résumé to fit the type of opportunity you seek: whether it’s performance, teaching, arts admin, or something else.

2. No prose. No sentences, paragraphs, or “I” statements. What you want instead are just the facts. Résumés are listings of your most relevant experience and credentials. It’s not your bio, artist statement, or prose poem!

3. No photos (unless you’re a singer auditioning for a role).

4. Likewise, no personal information. No marital status, age, or nationality should be listed on your résumé. In other countries this kind of information and photos are commonly included. But here in the litigious states, employers and funders want to avoid any possible discrimination and lawsuits.

Résumé Recommendations: 10 “Do’s”

1. Less is more. A résumé should not be a brain dump of everything you’ve done and all of your credentials. Don’t think of it as the official document accounting for all that you’ve been up to for the last umpteen years. That’s a big mistake.

Instead, think of your résumé as a marketing tool. You aim is to help the reader understand why you are the right fit for the opportunity.

So be really selective about the information you include. White space is your friend. We’re all so overloaded with data that a concise résumé highlighting only the most relevant material comes across as a welcome relief.

For most performance résumés, one page is ideal. Use two only if you have extensive experience that is pertinent to the recipient. Imagine you’re the contractor, director, or foundation officer who has just received a stack of 150 résumés to comb through. What would your priorities be? What kinds of experience would you be especially interested in?

Studies show that employers spend on average 6.25 seconds looking at each résumé. The challenge is to make sure that in that amount of time the reader will pick up what you most want them to.

Longer teaching résumés—CV’s—are used for college level teaching. Those are covered in other blogposts. Here we’re dealing just with performance résumés.

2. Design an eye-catching letterhead at the top of the page with your name, professional attribute (soprano, composer, or trombonist), and contact information. Choose an attractive and professional-looking font so that it stands out and will be remembered by the reader. Use the identical letterhead on your cover letter and other promotional materials.

3. Divide and conquer: organize your relevant experience into categories. Use bold to set category titles off from the listings underneath. The categories you use and the order you put them in should be tailored to your intended reader’s interest.  If you’re applying for an orchestral position, don’t start with solo or chamber recital experience—put orchestral experience first.

Unless you’re applying for another degree, don’t place education first. Although you’re no doubt proud of your degrees and the schools you attended, these are credentials you share with thousands of other musicians. Instead, start with your most relevant experience—what your intended reader is most interested in.

4. Choose carefully: think which categories are priorities for the reader and are also appropriate for your experience. For instance, if you’re applying for a grant to commission a new work for your ensemble, then a category for “New Music Performances” would make sense, and perhaps also a one titled “Performances of Works by . . .” listing the contemporary composers whose music your ensemble has performed.

5. Order matters: content category order should reflect the priorities of your intended reader. A singer auditoning for musical theatre roles should probably not list her opera experience first. Think what will matter most to the person you will send the résumé to.

6. Use dates where it counts—just the years, not months, seasons, or days. Dates are good for ongoing work such as orchestral or choral experience—as well as for awards and honors, completed degrees, and singers’ roles. No need to list dates for chamber, recital, club, or festival work.

7. When using dates, the listings should be in reverse chronological order: start with the most recent and go backwards in time to the least recent.

8. Keep the text consistent. After your letterhead, have all your text in the same size and font. Only use bold for the category titles—no extra underline, italics (except for work titles), and no “all caps” as they have the effect of screaming. Removing any extraneous distractions makes it easier for readers to browse through your résumé quickly.

9. Include only the most salient details. For example, don’t list a set of chamber ensembles you’ve performed with that the reader may have never heard of and that may no longer exist. Instead, create a category called Chamber Music Performances and list the venues where you’ve performed: the hall, city, state (or country).

Now you might be thinking, the places I’ve performed aren’t well known or impressive, so how will this help me.

Here’s the thing: let’s say the venues where you’ve performed are in several different states or even different countries. And let’s say that some are church series, others are outreach concerts at K-12 schools, senior centers, hospitals, and historical homes.

What do readers think when they read performance experience listings like this? Even if they don’t know the particular venues, they think, wow! Here’s a musician with a wide range of real life experience who’s probably comfortable performing for all kinds of audiences. Good assumptions for the reader to have, right?

10. Proofread: slowly and carefully, line by line. Check all spelling, capitalizations, and punctuation. Show your draft to others, get feedback from one or more qualified professional—someone who regularly receives applications of this type.

PS: My embarrassing proofreading story: the arts admin résumé I sent in for the job at NEC had a spelling error I only caught later. I had used a Professional Profile statement at the top, underneath the letterhead. A profile like this is a roundup highlighting your most relevant skills and experience — a 3 second preview of why you’re a good match for the opportunity.

My mistake: I spelled the word “professional” wrong—ouch! Of all words, right? UGH. Just goes to show you, we all need an outside reader.

Of course, it could have been worse — I might have also spelled “attention to detail” wrong, or omitted the “i” in recital or the “l” in public.

Though I got the job, the error was not the best way to introduce myself—especially as a career services “professional”!

These kinds of mistakes are made when we’re tired and rushing. We don’t slow down enough to really read word for word and double check everything.

So ever since then I try to be vigilant with proofreading and I push clients to do the same. But I still need help with proofreading my own work. As my former coworkers—ahem, Casey, if you’re reading this—will certainly attest, proofreading my own stuff is not my strong suit. Lesson I learned is to proofread safe: buddy up!

This just scratches the surface on upgrading promotional materials. If you’re interested in getting in-depth feedback and help with your own materials and want to find out how coaching can help, email me at

As always, I’d love to get your comments, stories, and tips—I’m at

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

Special Thanks

MONDAY BYTES — October 17, 2016

This is a story of a voice student, mezzo Yajie Chen, who was taking an entrepreneurial career course I taught at Manhattan School of Music. And what I learned from her.

Yajie came to see me during the semester and told me she thought that young musicians in her home country, China, would benefit from a translated edition of my book, Beyond Talent. And that she wanted to be the translator.

I was of course flattered and impressed with her motivation and interest—especially as she was an undergraduate at the time!

But I warned her of the challenges involved. That finding an interested publisher might prove daunting and that the rights would need to be negotiated between the Chinese publisher and my publisher, and that translation work can take quite a long time.

I didn’t want to discourage Yajie, but I have to admit, I thought the chances of a student being able to successfully pull this off were pretty slim.

Well, Yajie sure proved me wrong. She did it!

Yajie went out and found the publisher, did an excellent translation, handled all of the communication between me, my publisher, and the Chinese publisher—and made the thing happen. All while continuing her studies! It took a number of years to arrange all of this, but she persisted and now Beyond Talent has just been released in China—I’m so excited!

Take a look:

And here’s a peek inside:


A Big Big thank you to Yajie for her vision, determination, and amazing work: BRAVA!

Lesson I learned from her: don’t ever underestimate what a creative and motivated young musician can do!

About Yajie: Mezzo Yajie Chen’s credits include performing as Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), Flora (La Traviata), Udolin (Die Verschworenen), and Rosette (Manon). Ms. Chen has participated in the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute, Montreal, as well as iSING in Suzhou, China. Having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSM, she is now a doctoral candidate in Opera studies at China East Normal University and is spending 2016-17 studying in Berlin. Beyond her performance work, Yajie also has a keen interest in assisting musicians advance in their careers and entrepreneurial projects.

Here’s to you, Yajie, terrific vocalist, emerging music career specialist, world traveler, and translator extraordinaire—my heartfelt thanks!


And a request to you, dear readers: Can you help spread the news about the Chinese edition?  Do you know of any Chinese musicians who would like to take their careers to the next level? If so, please forward this to them. And here are two sites where they can purchase the book: DangDang and Tmall.

Thank you all and have a great week,





As always, I love hearing from you: questions, feedback, and ideas! Reach me at

If you’d like to create a custom-tailored plan to move ahead in your career and life, let’s talk abut how coaching can help you. Reach me at

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

“Delicious Ambiguity”

MONDAY BYTES — October 10, 2016

In honor of Columbus Day, here’s to all you music career adventurers! Which is to say, all of us.

My latest voyage into the unknown has been leaving my “day job” to focus on my coaching and consulting work and my writing. People ask me if it’s:

Scary? yep.
Exciting? absolutely.
Creatively challenging? HELL, YEAH!

Like Columbus, we’re all headed into uncharted territory—we’re navigating into the future. And like Columbus, we have a destination in mind, but are unsure of exactly how we’ll get there.


“Nobody knows how things will turn out, that’s why they go ahead and play the game . . . You give it your all and sometimes amazing things happen, but it’s hardly ever what you expect.”
― Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts

That’s certainly true of my career. I never expected to become a music career specialist or to have my own business, but from where I stand now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And Columbus? He was headed toward the East Indies to help the Spanish Crown secure the valuable spice trade routes. But oops, on the way he “discovers” a whole new continent. Unexpected outcome with results both good and bad, depending on the interpretation.

Career development can work the same way: we may be focused on a specific project (such as launching a new ensemble, expanding our teaching studio, or booking a tour) and we need to move ahead not knowing what the results may be, and deal with a wide range of outcomes along the way.

These situations call for courageous inventiveness. To help, here are my

5 Strategies to Deal with Your Uncertain Future

1. Get accustomed to getting out of your comfort zone. (See the link with short Seth Godin clip on why and how.)

Since there are no guarantees of results, you have to . . .

2. Plan the work and work the plan with the best information and advice you have available. There a terrific segment for those who hate to plan in Andrew Simonet’s Making Your Life as an Artist.

This means you need to . . .

3. Learn how to deal with unexpected challenges along the way. Shit happens and you can’t let it derail you. Notice what helps you maneuver past obstacles and challenges.

4. Navigate as best you can based on interpreting the immediate results as you go. We learn by doing. This means we ultimately learn to build and promote our ventures in public. Yes, there will be mistakes along the way—it goes with the territory. Perfectionism and trying to predict and control outcomes only gets in the way.

So we must . . .

5. Feel the anxiety and move ahead anyway. Inertia is the only real enemy. 

Being a freelancer or “solopreneur” brings with it risks: maybe not shipwreck and drowning as with Columbus, but financial uncertainties and risks. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

Smart (entrepreneurial) musicians take calculated risks: they figure out what they can afford to lose so that they don’t gamble everything. And they create beta versions of projects to test them and get feedback along the way.

So set your internal compass to your “North Star”— your ultimate purpose. If fear is stopping you from moving ahead (and it usually is what keeps people stuck), then ask yourself, what would Columbus have done? Or what would Gilda Radner have done?


This week: If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Now: does the risk really need to keep you from doing that project? How can you minimize the risk?

Anytime we venture beyond our comfort zone we take a risk. Sometimes staying with the status quo instead of following our calling is the bigger risk: because we risk not fulfilling our life’s destiny.


for fun: check out this clip of Gilda Radner playing Roseanne Rosannadanna on SNL

Bonus help:
Another short Seth Godin clip: Uncertainty is not the same thing as risk
Lori Deschene’s 7 Ways to Deal with Uncertainty
Pamela Slim’s Confused about which of your inner voices to trust?

If you’d like to create a custom-tailored plan to move ahead in your career and life, let’s talk abut how coaching can help you. Reach me at

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well