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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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9 Tools to Transform Your Speaking

MONDAY BYTES — April 25

Have you ever had that nightmare of walking out on stage and being completely unprepared? I know I have!

(And I’m always relieved to wake up and realize it was simply an anxiety dream.)

Of course it’s absurd to think we’d ever walk into an actual performance unprepared.

And yet.

That’s exactly what many us have done with speaking from the stage. And with teaching demos, media interviews, or workshop presentations.

The results are predictably less than ideal.

The good news is that all it takes is a little attention, planning, and practice to become a more engaging and confident presenter. To take the nightmare out of speaking in public.

Here are the tools to

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1. Make a game plan. Don’t wing it. Have a clear theme and identify the 2 or 3 main points you want to make and illustrate these with examples. Make an outline, write out the specifics, and then practice it.

2. Get real. Tell stories, use anecdotes from your experience to illustrate your points. If you’re introducing a work in a concert, your audience wants to hear about your connection to it and they want to get a sense of you as a person.

3. Keep it simple. Don’t try to impress people with fancy words or jargon that will alienate some of your audience.  Stick to active verbs. Be direct and human. The power is in clarity.

4. Don’t equivocate. It dilutes your message and undermines the impact. Eliminate kind of, sort of, somewhat, perhaps, I just think, etc.

5. Get rid of the “filler”: say goodbye to actually, so, very, really, rather, quite frankly, as well as awesome, like, you know, stuff, ah and um. Don’t be afraid of silence: pauses are good.

6. Quit the “upspeak.” This is the annoying habit of ending declarative statement as though it’s a question. Upspeak makes us sound unsure of ourselves, as though we’re looking for validation.

7. Fix Your Mindset. Don’t be looking for approval. If you’re wanting to please, you aren’t focusing on your message. It’s more important to make your points with your own clear conviction. For perspective on this, check out comedian and journalist Faith Salie’s Approval Junkie.

8. Shoot & Review. Video tape your practice sessions. Review for any:
A. distracting body movement, and
B. make sure you sound energized and enthusiastic, that you
C. project your voice, and that you
D. make appropriate eye contact.

9. Power Pose. Use Amy Cuddy’s power poses regularly to build your confidence and to practice being fully present. This can have terrific benefits in all facets of life—not just the public speaking.

Want more help?
In my book Beyond Talent chapter 8 is all about connecting with audiences. It covers teaching artist and community engagement work: how to develop programs and the speaking skills needed for them, and how to get bookings for these opportunities.

As always, I welcome your feedback and would love to hear what other tools have helped your public speaking.

Info on working with me HERE.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

Artistic Temperament?

MONDAY BYTES — April 17, 2016

What do you think: Is Artistic Temperament a myth?

Don Cheadle’s mesmerizing portrayal of the great Miles Davis in Miles Ahead got me worked up over this.

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Perhaps the idea of Artistic Temperament is really a question of mistaking an effect for a cause. Is the craziness of an artist’s lifestyle a contributor to her or his creativity, or simply a side effect of their behavior? After all early success mixed with drugs, sex, ego, violence—makes for an unhappy ending (for Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and many other artists).

I don’t buy that a turbulent lifestyle is necessary for great art. It’s similar to saying that mental illness is the required side dish with genius. Of course there are the Sylvia Plath and Van Gogh examples, but there are also plenty of centered and sane artists, think Peter Paul Reubens and Joan Tower.

Here’s my pet theory: extremely talented and accomplished people are typically granted leeway for poor social skills and erratic behavior. If they treat others badly it’s often excused or overlooked because they are “gifted” — as though this is a get out of jail free card.

In author David Ebenbach’s piece, “Being an Artist Doesn’t Mean You Get to be  Lousy Person” he describes how in his early years his writing heroes were often villains in their own lives — and how he found this romantic.

As a young man, Ebenbach excused his own at times erratic behavior as due to his “ink blood.” He writes, “It was a nice way to convince myself that (1) I couldn’t help myself, because of some artistic temperament, and (2) really it wasn’t that I was a jerk; I was just a charmingly rebellious artiste who did things his own way.”  He eventually grew up, and with therapy and medication, became not only a successful author, but a reasonably well-adjusted person with a family, a contributor to society.

The truth is, for many musicians, our art is a refuge from inner (or outer) turmoil. In the studio we can escape the realities of life’s difficulties.

But life’s realities always catch us up.

Every creative artist deals with the art vs. real life issue. The fact that in order to make art, we need to have a lifestyle that will support it. I think a lot of what passes for artistic temperament is individuals acting out in frustration over being distracted from their artistry by the necessities of real life and the needs of others.

The only way to have both an artistic career and a life that supports it is to find a balance between the competing demands of our artistic yearnings and the rational universe (the basics of paying rent, dealing with others, making a living).

The way we bargain between these two competing sides determines the quality of our day to day lives and our art. How well we sleep at night is a consequence of how well we managing the competing claims of our artistic yearnings and our everyday life needs. And this determines our ultimate ability to live with ourselves and with others.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my coaching work is helping musicians find the sweet spot that helps them manage their artistic goals and live a life that supports these goals.

The first step is to find out what you actually need: ask yourself:

What is the structure or support I need to create in order to do my best work?  Is it . . .

more time
a type of workspace
access to inspirational sources
colleagues and collaborators
specific performances to work towards
accountability: a trusted feedback loop
a solid financial threshold so I’m not panicking about money

Knowing what you are looking to change is the first step.

To have a conversation about the vision for the life you want to create and how we might work together on this, contact me HERE

And as always, I’d love to hear what you think about this topic!

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

How to Get More Gigs

MONDAY BYTES — April 11. 2016

Want the next best thing to a secret formula for more gigs?

Here are tips to becoming the musician people want to hire and to refer and recommend to others.

17 gig tips

These tips assume that your musicianship is excellent. They focus on all the other key factors: the specifics of how to communicate and interact with people before, during, and after the gig.

We all like to imagine that we come across as easy to work with, well prepared, and professional in our behavior, dress, and communication. But what does all that actually entail?

Here are 17 tips for turning a single gig into multiple opportunities. It’s the nitty gritty of how to be a successful freelancer:

1. Respond to email, text, and phone messages within 24 hours—whether it’s yes or no—and if you can’t do a gig,  have a list referrals to other excellent musicians (it’s good karma).

2. Clarify and confirm any verbal arrangements by email. Make sure you have all the gig details: location, time, pay, repertoire, directions, contact person name, number, etc.

3. In your gig bag pack all the extra gear for the unexpected (because things can and do go wrong). Keep a list and pack the night before.

4. Leave plenty of extra time for getting to the gig. Use GPS and bring backup written directions.

5. Arrive 30 minutes before the gig start time (dressed appropriately, with a great attitude and fully prepared).

6. When you arrive, check in with the contractor, manager, or client to make sure about any details of the set up and to make sure all is on track.

7. Give a good handshake, make eye contact, and smile when meeting anyone new and then . . .

8. Repeat the person’s first name after they introduce themselves, so say something like, “Nice to meet you, Chris!” (to help you remember their name).

9. Have business cards for anyone who might ask, “Does your ensemble play special events?” or “Do you also teach?” So you can say, “Yes, I do and here’s my card—happy to speak with you about this!”

10. In warming up: no inappropriate showmanship, stay focused on the music for that performance.

11. Stay present and tuned in during the rehearsal and gigs (no avoid texting, checking emails, reading) and take care to show that you’re interested and invested in the quality of the performance. The expression on your face and your attitude matter.

12. Bring pencils to rehearsals and mark parts as needed. If it’s rental music be considerate.

13. Clean up after yourself: at breaks, in rehearsals, backstage—think of others.

14. Be interested in others: at breaks ask colleagues about their projects, other performances and possible collaborations.

15. Send thank you notes after the gig to the person who hired them.

16. Check back with contacts 2 or 3 months later: be personable and comment or congratulate them on what they’ve been up to (on their series or other work that you can find info of online) and say you’d be happy to be considered for any additional work or referrals.

17. Don’t gossip or talk trash about anyone—keep your focus on the positive!

What have I left out? What’s been your experience? Looking forward to getting your additional gig tips!

More on gig best practice:
Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog

And depending on where you live and the type of freelance work you’re looking for, consider joining the appropriate musicians’ union and networking to gain additional insights!

The American Federation of Musicians

Find the other musicians’ unions and professional organizations HERE.

Info on working with me is HERE

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well