Bios are Stupid

In this business of mashing my hands around on the piano in front of people, one of my least favorite aspects of the job description is bio-writing.

I totally get that a bio is a Very Necessary Thing to have. I know this because my first instinct when I get a program or run across a musician’s website is to greedily flip to the “About the Artist” page or click on “Bio,” because heaven knows you can’t enjoy an artist’s work without first knowing as much personal information about them as you can. I also know this because there is a whole section on bio-writing in the music career bible du jour, and I have also realized when talking to audiences that for some reason people are genuinely interested in Me as a Person and not just Me as a Thing That Mashes Piano Keys.

So of course I have a bio, always ready-to-go and ready-to-be-edited-for-space.

The thing is that I have always hated the fact that I need to have a bio. If I had my way, the “About the Artist” section on all my programs would either be a single sentence clarifying that I play the piano, or be a compilation of my silliest tweets. I do not like quoting nice things people have said about my playing, and I do not like listing all the allegedly impressive things I have done. In this regard, I identify wholeheartedly with Ron Swanson.

The thing I hate even more than having to have a bio in the first place is the fact that the standard practice for bios—in the classical music world, at least—dictates that they have to be Very Serious, with a dash of pretension and hyperbolic braggadocio. It makes sense if you are a superstar, or at the very least a widely-acclaimed youngster cutting a meteoric rise on the international circuit. But in the past couple of years I have seen too many random teenagers flaunting bios claiming they’d been named as being one of the greatest pianists of their generation (by their mothers, probably). This madness has to end, people.

After several years of playing the serious bio game (at some point I featured a number of selectively quoted phrases, like “fiery technique” and “turned heads” and other things my sister made fun of me for), I decided enough was enough. If I have to have a bio, I might as well have fun with it.

web bio

I have no idea, honestly, how long I’m going to keep a tongue-in-cheek bio in which the word “pianist” doesn’t appear anywhere. Maybe I’ll even replace the picture with something sillier. At some point a concert promoter or more adult person may kindly suggest that I put a more professional biography on my website, or maybe I’ll just get embarrassed and go back to using one of the boring alternate bios I have floating around.

But for now, I am a professional finger wiggler because my website says so.

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A Series of Escalating Dares, Part 2

Will someone please point me in the direction of the black hole that has apparently swallowed up the month of May? I swear that yesterday we were approaching the end of April and now my planner is insisting that it’s June.

Anyway, I gave a bunch of concerts in April! And remember how I started daring myself to do stuff I was scared of?

Well, the concerts weren’t the only things I dared myself to do.

I’m on SoundCloud now!*
*There are only three recordings up there right now as of this post, but I swear I’m going to upload some more.

I know, setting up a SoundCloud account isn’t like jumping off a cliff or anything. But I’ve always loathed listening to recordings of myself, and I’ve also always been extremely reluctant to have recordings of myself out there on the big bad Internet. Part of it is self-consciousness and another part of it is that I just never sound as good as I wish I did.

“Well, Sharon,” I said, because I talk to myself often, “this is who you are. You can either accept yourself, imperfections and all, or you can keep living in your little fantasy world where you are a perfect person who, spoiler alert, doesn’t really exist.”

So here I go: in a potentially misguided attempt to force myself to accept my own shortcomings, I’m putting up select recordings from my recitals, and I have a soft goal of putting up recordings from my practice sessions in the coming months. (This is all part of a big plan to motivate and discipline myself, you see.)

So listen to me! Or don’t. It’s not going to kill either of us, I promise.

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A Series of Escalating Dares, Part 1.5

arrested development chicken dance gif
Okay, I know this is not an “escalating dares” gif. Source here.

(This post is 1.5 of my “escalating dares” series because I actually have at least two more separate dares in the works…only I’m being kind of a chicken about getting them going. Today’s post is more of a follow-up to Part 1, hence the “1.5.”)

So remember how I said I was going to give a bunch of recitals, and I was going to announce dates and locations?

It’s happening! I have four recitals in April that you—yes, you!—are invited to, provided you are in the California Bay Area. They have been scheduled, people have been invited, and I’m already past the point of no return. So…no backing out now. (Not that I was planning to back out, mind you, but now I’m really, truly on the hook for this.)

sharon su piano recitals april 2014

The dates are as follows:

April 12 (Saturday), 3:00 PM — Union City

April 13 (Sunday), 3:00 PM — Oakland

April 19 (Saturday), 5:00 PM — Stockton

April 27 (Sunday), 2:00 PM — San Jose

I’m not publicly posting addresses because some of these are people’s private residences, so if you are interested in coming and would like the address, please email concerts[at]sharonsu.com.

A huge thank you to the very generous people who are allowing me to give concerts and have been so very kind. Seriously, when I put out a call for house concert venues I was expecting that people would either 1) quietly snicker and ignore me altogether or 2) loudly snicker and tell me that this is a stupid idea but instead of either of those two things happening, people were actually super supportive (!) and willing to go well out of their way for me (!!) so now I feel very humbled and…also a little scared.

So once again: you are invited, as long as you are not a serial killer or a person with noxious B.O. If neither of those things describe you, please come!

If you are a serial killer and/or person with noxious B.O., kindly stay at home. Thank you.

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