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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Equality Within Reach; what I’ve been up to

It’s struck me that I never got around to blogging about one of the bigger projects I did. (To be fair, I have a veritable mental backlog of projects I want to blog about, except you all know I am terribly, incurably lazy.)

This past semester I launched a website devoted to issues of gender equality, sexual violence, media portrayal, etc. etc. as an outgrowth of a graphic design project. I called it “Equality Within Reach” and it’s a nice little resource summing up some of the issues and offering a boatload of websites, articles, blogs, and books to read. (Go check it out! I seriously spent a lot of time on it!)

Funnily enough, I spent so much time making sure the design of the website was good that some of the other elements were kind of an afterthought. Particularly, this:

I just needed to stock the “spread the word” section of the website with things people could share or print out. I didn’t really think people would use them. I threw this “short skirts don’t rape” thing together using an image from an animation that never saw the light of day and some default-sized fonts, flung it onto Tumblr, and went off to practice.

Well, my shoddy design’s gotten more mileage than I expected. It’s been shared more than 5000 times on Tumblr and several hundred people from all over the world have now visited the website. Apparently it made it to Facebook, because I got an email from a Huffington Post Canada reporter this morning and I just got off the phone with her. In addition to being embarrassed at my design (come on, I’ve designed much better things), I am embarrassed that I talked—a lot. I gave her ten million times the information she will ever need. I really need someone to follow me around and poke me with a cattle prod when I start blabbering.

So yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve been up to. In other news, I’m home, I’m practicing a bunch, I performed the Prokofiev concerto again this last Saturday, and in the course of cleaning my room, I’ve watched the Incredibles more than a dozen times. Don’t judge. Watching a Pixar movie over and over again is just what blazingly successful people do, okay?

In case you find my life not very interesting, you can always read about the adventures of my boyfriend (business student, CEO, and wine dude extraordinaire) in China.