Why Are Classical Music Audiences Old, and Should We Care?

There is a lot of talk these days about the advancing age of classical music audiences. In truth, this conversation has been happening for quite some time. We’ve been hearing about it lately, but we’ve been talking about it for the last thirty years or so.

We thought we’d take a look at this stereotype and address a few pertinent questions: Is it true? (Yes) Why? (Many reasons) Does it matter? (Depends) Is there anything we should do about it? (Absolutely! The same things you should be doing for all of your audiences, regardless of age)

Compassion - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Why are classical music audiences old?

Classical music has always attracted a more mature audience. Sure, when you look out from the stage you’ll see a handful of children and young adults, but statistically speaking, 42% of classical music concertgoers are 41-60, and 37% are 61 and over. These statistics have led to some panicky discussions about the future of live classical music, the often unspoken subtext being that the audience is literally dying out.

This is hooey, to use a technical term.

Yes, audiences are getting older, but the general population is also getting older. People are living longer and remaining active long past the life expectancy of 50 years ago. This means that people that enjoyed classical music in their 30s and 40s are still attending concerts into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. The longevity of our audience is hardly something to bemoan.

So, the real question is not, why are classical music audiences old, but rather, why don’t more young people attend classical concerts?

Time and taste

Retired people have more time to attend cultural events in general. Young people, say those in their 20s and 30s, are in the midst of building careers and raising families. When they finally get home from work, the idea of heading back out, fighting for parking, and sitting to listen to a concert just seems exhausting. If there are children involved, finding a sitter, or hoping for good behavior during a quiet performance can be overwhelming.

By the time people reach their mid-forties, many have already established their careers and have older children that no longer require sitters. By retirement, the day is wide open. It’s no wonder that these people show up to classical concerts more often.

Of course, younger people do go out. They do attend concerts, just usually not classical performances. Why is that?

The first reason is utterly subjective. As we age, our tastes and priorities change. Who knows why, but classical music seems to become more appealing the older we get. Even Sting, made famous as a young man in the rock band, The Police, has become progressively more interested in classical music. A recent album features a 42-piece orchestra and traditional British tunes.

Perhaps older people have simply had more exposure to classical music. Perhaps loud music and light shows just become less appealing as we age, making this year’s top rock concert easy to skip.

Or, maybe it’s about community. (It is)

Creating experiences and finding a tribe: the surefire way to reach an audience of any age

Attending any live event, classical or otherwise, requires a substantial amount of effort. Why should anyone bother? If it’s all about the music, why not just stay home and listen to recordings?

It isn’t all about the music.

It’s about the experience.

Many of us have shelled out cash to go to a show we weren’t particularly interested in simply because our friends were going. We went for the community, the dancing, the food, the drinks. We went because it offered us what we needed at the time– a tribe to belong to and a way to relax.

When we put classical concerts on a pedestal by demanding that they be all about the music (and our stellar, virtuosic performance) we are overlooking our audience and what they actually need. You are a wonderful performer, that’s a given, but if you want to develop and retain an audience (of any age) you need to become a wonderful programmer as well.

Classical performances of well-loved pieces from the 18th and 19th century given in a quiet recital hall are lovely. They definitely have their place and serve their purpose. But when you consider the needs those concerts fulfill (quiet, calm, enlightenment, and sheer beauty), you can also recognize the audience that is seeking to have those needs fulfilled – namely an older audience.

If you want to attract a younger audience (and no one says you need to), you must figure out how to design a program to meet the needs of those younger people. How can you make the experience most enjoyable?

If you’re looking for an audience in their 20s and 30s consider this:

Book a room in a trendy area or a location near where people work. Look for a venue with an onsite bartender and snacks. Consider doing several short sets that allow the audience plenty of time to grab refreshments and socialize. Choose music by living composers, or favorites from the 20th century. 

Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. If you want a different audience, do something different.

Classical music audiences tend to be loyal. They come back year after year – of course they are aging. That’s to be celebrated!

Spend more time making your audience’s investment in you worth their while by crafting delightful experiences and less time worrying about your audience’s longevity, and you’ll find yourself with a thriving fan base and a long-lived career.

If you would like to hear SPB in discussion with his friends and fellow musicians regarding this topic, head to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Nurture Your Music and Watch Your Audience

Nurturing brings to mind images of mothers and gardeners – people who feed and care for living things, helping them grow and develop with attention and compassion. And while it’s obvious that a nurturing attitude is attractive in these people, it can be hard to imagine how one would nurture music. Nonetheless, nurturing your music is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you and your performances make an impact on the world around you.

To nurture means simply to encourage, protect, and cherish something (or someone) as it grows. We’re big proponents of cherishing your audience – without them, you have no career. But how exactly can you nurture that audience or the music they come to hear?

Nurturing - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Caring for music

Fundamentally, music is a language – a communication tool. In fact, music is the only universal language. Every culture in the world incorporates music in some way, and every human being can experience it. If you can speak, you can sing. If you have a pulse, you have rhythm. Music speaks of emotion, and it steps in when words no longer suffice. It’s extremely valuable, even indispensable, and as such, it deserves care and respect.

However, unlike a plant or a child, which exist regardless of whether anyone notices, music only exists when it is experienced. Yes, music is represented by notes on a page – but that isn’t actually music – that’s merely the instructions for creating music. Music is an experience and to nurture it you must cultivate the experience – give it value, allow it to have reach, impact, and touch lives. This is what we mean by nurturing music.

It’s about attitude

When we nurture something, we care for it beyond and before ourselves. We do what we can to help it thrive for its own sake – not just to serve our needs. Nurturing music is no different.

If you are using music as a way to gain fame or accolades, if every performance you give is really just a way of saying, “Look at me! Aren’t I amazing?” you are not nurturing music. You are nurturing your ego. Most of us have egos that need no nurturing – they are doing just fine on their own.

To nurture music, you must respect it for what it is and what it does. Music is a way of communicating something that cannot be expressed any other way. It’s a conversation with an audience. To nurture your music, you must nurture your audience – create an environment that allows them to experience the conversation and grow from it.

As performing musicians, we diligently practice pieces so that there are no breaks in our audience’s experience of the music – so that the piece can communicate without us getting in the way. We carefully craft performances designed to offer a particular experience. But it’s important to remember that what we are really nurturing is a moment in time. A very special moment, but a finite moment. Once we’ve delivered that moment to the best of our ability we have to let it go and do what it will like a pebble in a pond. It’s time to move on to the next pebble – to creating the next moment.

If you view music as all about you, it’s impossible to craft these moments or let them go. However, if you recognize that music is a language that has been around since the first heartbeat, and will be around long after you are gone, it becomes possible to see that you are but a piece of the puzzle, a little expression of this language of emotions.

And though all people are capable of making music, professional performers are the experts. You’ve been given special stewardship over this gift of language. If you take care of this gift – if you nurture it – you are nurturing the lives of the people listening, and they will grow in both heart and number.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Be Adventurous & Be Attractive

When we think of traits we find attractive in others, some characteristics spring immediately to mind: kindness, reliability, humor.  At first glance, adventurousness might not be an obvious choice.

We tend to think of adventurous as a word to describe mountain climbers, world-travelers, dare-devils. But adventurousness is actually defined as the ability to cope with the new and unknown. In other words, an adventurous person is someone willing to step out and try something new.

Adventurous - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Steve Jobs and Willie Nelson?

Steve Jobs changed the face of personal computing (and made a tidy fortune) by walking out to the edge of technology. He decided to build a different computer, in a different way, and became a lone journeyman in a new land. Of course, today, millions of people carry around souvenirs of his adventure in their pockets.

Similarly, in 1960, when Willie Nelson, quite possibly the best-known country songwriter of the last century, arrived in Nashville, he struggled to have his songs recorded. The country music establishment considered his work too off-beat and artsy to be commercially successful. Even Patsy Cline was less than enthusiastic about recording one of Nelson’s songs, Crazy. Of course, that song would go on to become a country standard recorded by dozens of artists, and ironically, held up today as an example of “true country” by people bemoaning the new direction of the genre.

There is NO BOX!

Both Jobs and Nelson pushed the limits of what was considered expected at the time. Some would say they were “thinking outside the box.” That cliché might be the most aggravating and misinformed use of language in popular culture. Why?

Because – to think outside the box assumes the existence of a box, and there is NO BOX.

If there is a box, what is it? Where is it? Who put it there?

Perhaps by box, they simply mean tradition. In other words, the way things have always been done by the people who have always done them. In which case, of course, that “box” is something we should all aim to avoid.

Cultivating a Spirit of Adventure

You aren’t Steve Jobs or Willie Nelson. So how can you, as a performing classical musician, be more adventurous?

Seek opportunities for spontaneity. These can be small – stop at a different grocery store, drive down a strange road just to see where it goes – anything you haven’t planned to do or thought too much about counts. Spontaneity sets you up to recognize possibilities in unlikely places.

Try new things, both in your personal and professional life. Experiment with a new piece of repertoire. Set up a performance room differently, or abandon the stage entirely and walk through the audience (if possible) while playing.

Not everything will be a success. You may try something new only to discover that the traditional way does, in fact, work better. At least now you know. And you’ll find something else surprising: people love to watch others take risks. Humans love to root for the underdog. If you allow yourself to take small risks and be vulnerable, especially if those around you know that you are pushing your limits, you’ll generate all kinds of enthusiasm, compassion and connection.

And when your adventures do lead to success? Well, you’ll be surrounded by an audience who feels genuinely excited to say that they were there at the beginning.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Want to Win Friends and Influence People? Get Resourceful.

For many, the word resourceful brings images of Depression Era women making clothing out of flour sacks, but resourcefulness has less to do with frugality than it does with creativity. However, it’s important to remember (though few of us do) that resourcefulness is also based on time.

Resourcefulness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Resourcefulness and Decisiveness

Resourcefulness is closely related to decisiveness – another attractive characteristic that we covered in a recent blog post. To be resourceful, we look at what is available to us and make a quick decision about how best to use those things to solve the problem at hand.

Identifying our resources can require a fair amount of creativity. It’s easy to look around and take stock of what you have (a stack of flour sacks in the Depression-era example), but it can take more doing to think of what might be available based on what you have (a friendship with the local baker).

Resourcefulness and Relationships

Relationships (Human Resources) are vital to any successful business, but they are particularly valuable resources for performing musicians. We are in the business of providing experiences, and there is no experience without experiencers. Our entire careers are predicated on being in relationship with other musicians and our audience.

Does this mean we should exploit those relationships – use them as resources to get what we want? Yes. And no.

You never want to take advantage of anyone – that’s a sure way to lose the relationship and the resources that go along with it. However, it’s critical to remember that nothing happens without an initial action, and that initial action almost always requires you giving something (time, money, ideas, direction, etc.) to someone else in return for what you need. Your human resources are the people you can offer something to in order to get that ball rolling. 

Practice Makes Progress

So how do we get fast at finding creative solutions? Practice. Resourcefulness is based on behavior, and like all behavior, it can be learned.

Brainstorm the resources currently available to you, as well as those that might be available based on what you already have, or who you already know. Practice putting those pieces together in creative ways to discover new possibilities for meeting a current challenge.

If you do this often enough, making those connections will become second nature, and you just may become someone else’s most valuable human resource. People love problem solvers.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Do or Do Not, But Decide

There’s no doubt about it – we live in a world that values decisiveness. Just consider the words we use to describe indecisive people: wishy-washy, iffy, waffling. These do not paint a pretty picture, my friends.

What’s so great about being decisive, and why can it be so hard to just make up our minds?

Decisivines - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Decisive People Are Dynamic

We admire perfection, but we are impressed by improvement.

As an example, think of the musicians you’ve known from school or the beginning of your career. We all know someone who has always been a star player. She was great ten years ago, and she’s equally great today. No surprise.

On the other hand, there’s the player you haven’t heard in a while that is suddenly so much better than the last time. In fact, he seems to get better every time you hear him perform. He’s constantly improving, and we are all constantly impressed.

That kind of improvement doesn’t come from practice alone. Constant improvement comes from making decisions and moving forward, course-correcting when necessary (which requires making another decision) and moving forward again. There is no improvement without movement, and there’s no movement until you decide to move.

Decisive People Share the Burden

We typically think of leaders as the decision makers. However, a good leader not only allows others to make decisions but actively encourages them to do so. After all, leaders should be in the business of helping others grow and lead.

Being the sole decision maker in a group is exhausting. Regardless of whether the group is trying to figure out where to go for lunch, or which venue to book, making the final call (especially without adequate input from everyone else) can feel like a burden. There is responsibility inherent in decision making. When people take turns shouldering that responsibility, it reduces the load – and we all like to work with people who lighten our load.

Why Deciding is Difficult

Typically, people struggle to make a decision for one of two reasons:

1. They don’t know where they are going.

In an ideal world, we’d measure the possible outcome of any decision against our overarching goal. Theoretically, this should be easy. No matter how many options there are, you simply choose the most effective: Choice #4 has the highest chance of getting me closest to my goal – dilemma solved.

Unfortunately, choosing the goal itself can feel overwhelming. We live in a world of near-endless possibilities – it’s a paralyzing embarrassment of riches. What’s the best choice? What should we do?

Answer: Do SOMETHING. Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing. Which brings us to the other reason people avoid decisions:

2. They are scared to be wrong

“A good decision now is better than the best decision later.”
-General Patton  

Being decisive doesn’t mean you have to cling unwaveringly to the decisions that you make. Often, people put off making a choice until they “have all the facts.” Classical musicians in particular often fall prey to this kind of perfectionism. We can get bogged down in research and never move forward for fear we may take the wrong step. We may spend so much energy trying to find the perfect venue to reach out to that we never book a performance.

You will NEVER have ALL the facts. Not every situation is ideal, and almost every situation comes with unknown quantities. So what do we do?

We weigh the information we do have and make a choice. If different information comes along later, we can simply make a different choice. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed about changing your mind.

But what about all the time we’ve wasted?

It is better to spend time learning lessons on a wrong path than it is to waste time standing at the crossroads going nowhere and learning nothing for fear of making a mistake. Time waits for no man, and refusing to decide becomes a decision in and of itself – a decision based on fear – and fear is rarely a good guide. So take control. Be brave, be inspiring, and decide.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Want to Attract Attention? Work Smarter, Not Harder

The adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” is so ubiquitous in professional development materials that it now seems nothing more than a cliché. However, all clichés are rooted in truth, and it turns out this one can do as much for your popularity as it can for your productivity.

Working Smarter: A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Why we like smart workers

You see them in every field: people who move gracefully through their tasks, ticking every box without drama or panic. They aren’t only doing all the things; they seem to be doing the right things.  Regardless of whether they’re working behind a reception desk or making their way through an international tour, just watching them work makes us calm. Yes, they impress us, but they also make us, dare we say, happy.

Why?

We live in a complicated, crazy-making world, my friends. Being around people who know how to navigate that world and have their stuff together brings us a sense of security and optimism. When we see people who know where they are going and how they are going to get there, we suddenly feel as if everything is going to be okay. Who doesn’t want more of that?

Working Smarter is Still Hard Work

Working smart doesn’t mean hardly working. It means working hard on the right things – the high-leverage actions that give the most bang for your buck.

1. Define your destination

To decide which tasks move you most quickly towards your goal, you obviously have to have a goal in mind.

A clearly defined target makes it much easier to say yes to the right things and no to things that miss the mark. The question is no longer, is this a good opportunity? (let’s be honest, as a professional musician, any performance opportunity can seem like a good opportunity), but instead, does this opportunity get me closer to where I’m headed?

You can’t do everything. A large part of working smart is learning to say no. If it doesn’t relate to the goal, no matter how lovely it is, it’s off the table.

2. Let your actions multi-task

Once you’ve got a goal, look for high-leverage actions. These are the things that check several boxes at once. If there’s a non-negotiable task you have to do, look for ways to do it that bring a secondary benefit. For example, if you have to hang posters to promote a performance, use that opportunity to introduce yourself to potential venues in person.

Clearly, killing five birds with one stone is efficient. However, it’s only working smart if all of those outcomes get you closer to your ultimate goal. It’s better to do something that delivers one goal-related outcome than something that delivers five results, none of which are moving you further down the path.

3. Preplan (a little)

Figuring out your goal and determining which actions will get you there fastest requires planning. This is the “work” part of working smarter. Before things can run smoothly down the track, you have to build the track.

However, a little preplanning goes a long way. Too much preplanning goes nowhere. Don’t get lured into the idea that you have to know everything to make something happen. Yes, you need to know where to start, but then, you need to make something happen. You can figure out what to fix as you go along.

In the business world, this is called frequent iteration. Basically, it means you take action as quickly as possible, examine the results, adjust course if necessary, and immediately take another action.

It’s Okay to be a Virgin

As classical musicians, we tend to be perfectionists. We want to get it right the first time. But the absolute best way to learn to do something is to do it.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records (and a slew of other businesses), knew nothing about airlines when he founded Virgin Air. He was stuck in an airport with a crowd of people who all needed to get home. He chartered a plane and wandered the terminal hocking tickets to anyone who wanted a ride. Thus Virgin Air was born. He had no experience, but he was comfortable with that – it’s the reason he named his company Virgin, after all.

So, set a goal. Look for actions that move you quickly towards that target, and make a little plan.

Then try, fail, learn. Again and again.

Soon you will be one of those calm, collected and successful people we all want to be around.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

It Pays to be Sensitive

Sensitivity gets a bad rap. Growing up, many of us were told that we were too sensitive, especially if we let every small jab or cross-eyed look undo us. “I was only joking! Don’t be so sensitive!”

As performers and professional musicians, we’re taught that we need to have thick skin. “Get used to rejection and critique. Toughen up. If you’re too sensitive, they’ll eat you alive.”

Nearly everywhere we turn, sensitivity seems to be a liability. In truth, it’s a powerful asset.

Inner vs. outer sensitivity

Sensitivity is merely the capacity to respond to stimulation, which is essentially the opposite of numbness. Being numb is a death sentence for an artist. To speak the language of emotion, music, we obviously have to be able to feel emotion. This is inner sensitivity.

Outer sensitivity arises from the same place and is an awareness of the needs and emotions of others. Every good musician has to be sensitive to the needs of the people around him – not only other musicians but also the audience. The most important person in any musical group is the audience. Without them, you’re just practicing!

So what does it mean to be sensitive to the needs and emotions of others, and how can we do it if we don’t know what their needs are?

Assume Nothing

We’ve all been around people who assume that everyone believes exactly as they do. Perhaps it’s a stranger in the grocery store line who makes an off-hand comment about the cover of a magazine, or a waiter who makes a political joke that’s only funny to people on his side of the aisle.

Assuming that the people around you are on the same page you’re on is deeply insensitive. In fact, sensitivity requires realizing that not only are people not on the same page, but they may not be reading out of the same book.

Sensitivity requires curiosity and a certain amount of vulnerability. You have to accept and expect that other people think differently than you do. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to respect their absolute right to believe as they do.

Sensitive Leadership

As a conductor, 80% of my job is psychology. Getting the best performance out of a group of musicians involves understanding that every single player has things going on in her life that I know nothing about. Maybe her car broke down on the way in, or she just got engaged, or perhaps divorced. There’s no way for me to know the specifics, but drawing out the best possible performance demands that I be sensitive to not knowing. In short, I can’t assume I have the full picture.

For example, if there’s a problem with a player – maybe he’s not paying attention to cues, or seems to be in a consistently different place than everyone else – a conductor can respond in one of two ways. First, he can call out the player. “Hey, you need to be watching for direction. Keep up.” This response assumes that the conductor knows the problem and has the solution. It leaves no room for a different answer.

The second choice is to get curious. “Can you tell me what’s going on here?” This simple question opens up a host of possibilities. Perhaps the player can’t see the cues. Maybe he has a completely different understanding of how the piece should be performed. Maybe he’s just trying to be a team player and has shown up to play even though he’s shaky with fever.

Being sensitive means being open to the possibility that your understanding of a person or situation may not be the right one or the only right one. This kind of sensitivity is very attractive. It’s how we attract loyal friends, loyal colleagues, and loyal audiences.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Becoming Wise

It’s a paradox. Nobody likes a know-it-all, but we find wise people very attractive.

What’s the difference? How can we thread that needle – cultivating and displaying true wisdom while avoiding arrogance?

Wisdom: A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Consider Context

There’s an old saying: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Wisdom relies not only on knowledge but also on experience. It’s based on a foundational understanding of how the world operates – an understanding that surpasses a basic grasp of the necessary facts. Very often, that insight is borne from walking the coals, facing adversity, and living to tell the tale.

A wise person makes decisions based on insight and good judgment, not on whims. When we meet someone like this, we intuitively feel that they have access to more foundational truths than we do.

As they say, experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is costly. It’s no wonder that we are attracted to people who seem to have paid that tuition and may be able to share what they’ve learned and spare us the trouble.

Wisdom vs. Arrogance

Generally, the wisest people are also the humblest. They understand their place as part of a whole. As ensemble musicians, they aren’t show-offs – not because they lack the skills, but because they recognize that demanding the spotlight damages the performance. They know when they are playing a leading role and when they are in a supporting role.

For example, a wise drummer understands that sometimes all that is required is to tap the edge of the snare. He may be a virtuosic player, but wisdom dictates that he does what is right for the piece, not what is most impressive. He knows that there are no small roles.

In financial matters, a wise person recognizes that money is merely a tool for living your best life. It’s helpful, but it isn’t the measuring stick for success. Much more important is the impact you have on the people around you.

Finding the Wise Ones

So how do we cultivate wisdom?

  • The fastest and easiest way to grow in wisdom is to invest in a guide or a mentor. Look for someone who has been there, done that, and has a boatload of t-shirts to show for the experience.
  • Read. The world is full of wisdom literature. From religious texts to modern masterpieces, there is no shortage of wisdom out there for the discovering. Some recommendations: John Acuff, Steven Pressfield, Michael Hyatt.
  • Practice discernment. Obviously, not all advice is created equal, and not everything you read is true. So how do you know what to trust? Look for people whose messages resonate with you – people you feel naturally attracted to. Remember, you can take what is useful from any message and leave the rest.

Becoming wise is a lifelong endeavor. It isn’t something you can knock out with a month in a practice room or library. But the good news is, as long as you view every experience as an opportunity to grow wisdom, you can never lose ground.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Get Real: Cultivating Genuine Authenticity

What does it mean to be genuine? Why is it important, and how can we cultivate it in our careers as classical musicians?

Being genuine, at its most basic, means being real – sincere, truthful, acting without pretense. In a world where terms like “fake news” and “spin” are part of our everyday vocabulary, genuine people are a rare commodity.

Genuine - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Genuine vs Authentic

There is a lot of talk in personal development circles about authenticity – showing up in your life as the person you really are, not just who you think people want you to be.

As children, we’re bombarded with the message to just be yourself, which, though solid advice, gives us the idea that there is one fundamental, unchanging self we are supposed to be. If we can just figure out who that person is, and what she’d do in any given situation, we’ll be set.

Some people agonize over discovering this self, constantly second-guessing every decision, trying to get it right. Others latch on to a particular definition of themselves early on, shunning new information, and resisting ideas that might threaten their concept of who they are.

But here’s the truth – as humans we are supposed to change. We are supposed to learn new things, change our minds, grow into ourselves day by day. If you are doing life right, the ideas you have today are different than those you had ten years ago. Some of your core beliefs may be the same – but, on the other hand, even those may change over time.

Authenticity is about being true to yourself – your ever-changing self. It’s an inner journey.

Being genuine, on the other hand, is about being truthful with others about who you are, what you think, and what you’re after.

Genuine vs Jerk

Being genuine does not mean operating with no filter. It doesn’t mean you say exactly what you think no matter the consequences. In fact, if you behave that way, the message you’ll be sending is that you are a genuine, authentic, arrogant jerk.

Thankfully, you can be genuine without being honest-to-a-fault.

Encourage, Don’t Manipulate

We are all master manipulators. We don’t mean to be (well, some of us mean to be) and often don’t even realize what we are doing.

Anytime we try to persuade someone to do something or agree with us, we are manipulating the situation. We aren’t thinking about being honest, we’re thinking about how we can best present our side so that the other person will do what we want. This is just human nature. We are conditioned to wonder, “What’s in it for me?”

Practicing genuineness means we have to consciously break out of this mindset. One of the easiest ways to do this is to look for opportunities to encourage other people.

Look for opportunities to praise, lift up, be grateful. Instead of thinking, “What do I want from this situation?”, think “What is there here that I can appreciate and encourage?”

This shift helps move you out of the mindset of manipulation – it allows you to practice being real and genuine without pretense. If there is nothing to praise (there almost always is) just keep your mouth shut. Silence is genuine too. 

While you’re busy encouraging, make sure you aren’t slipping into schmoozing – trying to get something you want by flattery. That’s counterproductive! And not necessary.

It’s possible to book a gig, negotiate payment, and handle all business dealings in a straightforward way. After all, people need the service you provide, and you need to be paid. Be upfront, be genuine and you’ll be amazed how many people will be eager to work with you.   

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

How to Inspire Loyalty

We humans are social creatures who crave connection and support. Of course, being human, we are also very prone to missteps, faux pas, and mistakes. Loyalty is the special sauce that fosters the connection we need and keeps people coming back even after we mess up.

LOYALTY - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Loyalty in the modern age

Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as strong support or allegiance, but in this case, the Urban Dictionary paints a much better picture of what loyalty looks like in our day to day lives. A loyal person is “one who doesn’t: cheat, lie, …go behind your back, or pick someone else before you.”

Loyalty is tethered to trust of the most personal kind. We are loyal to people we trust to do right by us. When someone we trust does something we consider out of character, or perhaps plain wrong, we have two immediate choices: we can decide our trust was misplaced and revoke it, or we can give that person the benefit of the doubt, and assume the intention was good even if the outcome was less than stellar. The second choice is the voice of loyalty.

Loyal to a Fault?

Loyalty gets a bad rap sometimes, especially these days when we read of powerful people demanding loyalty from others even when it isn’t deserved. But true loyalty can’t be demanded. You can’t guilt someone into being loyal. You can’t even buy real loyalty, all evidence to the contrary.

That’s because loyalty isn’t transactional; it’s relational. Loyalty isn’t owed it’s earned.

Here’s an example from the classical music world: Let’s say, as a young flutist you had one particular teacher who continually encouraged you and supported your ambitions. Perhaps she went out of her way to find opportunities for you to audition and perform. You knew she was on your side and doing everything in her power to help you be successful.

One time, however, she recommended someone other than you for an opportunity you really wanted. You were deeply disappointed, but because of your long-standing relationship, you understood that she was likely looking out for your best interests. Over time, this proved to be the case.

At some point, that same opportunity arrived again (opportunity DOES knock twice). Someone else handed it to you, and it was the turning point for your career.

Now, years later, as a successful professional flutist, you have the opportunity to publically recognize one person who had a profound effect on your success.

Who do you recognize? The person that said “Yes,” that one time, or the teacher who said, “No,” but grew you in so many other ways?

If life and loyalty is a series of transactions, then you’d recognize the person that gave you that one shot. However, loyalty is about relationships and being faithful to the people that made it possible for you to take that shot when the time was right.

You Have to Give it to Get it

So, how do you inspire loyalty in others? How do you make sure audiences and venues keep coming back?

You inspire loyalty in others by being loyal yourself. Make people feel valued, make them feel like they matter – because they DO. You must cherish your audience.

Put a little of yourself in every email, every phone call, every bit of stage banter, and make sure you are communicating that you value the other person’s contribution, whether that’s attention, regard, applause, opportunity, or advice.

Be on time. Every time.

This may seem out of place in a conversation about loyalty, but few things go as far to show respect and value in the world of professional music as punctuality.

Remember the adage, “If you are early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re fired.”

Being late (or even making someone fear you are going to be late) tells the people you are performing for, or with, that your time is more valuable than theirs is. It shows that you do not actually value them or their priorities as much as you do your own. That does not inspire loyalty.

Go out of your way to help people.

Look for opportunities to support the success of others. In so much as you can, without overextending yourself, try to say “Yes.” And though loyalty is not a quid pro quo, if you say “Yes,” from a place of generosity and goodwill, you will find you will be the first phone call when the exciting opportunity you want to say “Yes” to appears.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.