As a rule, we tend to like knowledgeable people. That is, of course, as long as they aren’t arrogant know-it-alls. There’s a big difference between talking with someone who can speak intelligently about a subject and a person determined to prove that they are more intelligent than everyone else.
Knowledgeable people seem competent, and in a world that can seem shaky, competency is very attractive. Furthermore, being knowledgeable shows a certain amount of curiosity about the world. After all, you can’t learn something without being curious about it first. Being around curious people encourages us because curiosity implies a passion for life which is inspiring.
There is, however, something even better than spending time with people who know what they are talking about: spending time with people who know what you are interested in talking about.
The Knowledgeable Classical Musician
If you intend to study and play classical music in the confines of your own living room, it’s perfectly acceptable to be knowledgeable only about your instrument, the pieces you’re playing, the composer, and perhaps the context.
In fact, if your audience is only made up of classical music aficionados, this knowledge may get you through just fine.
However, if you’d like to have a vibrant performing career, you’ll have to develop the ability to connect with people who may have never experienced classical music before – people who do not know or care about the difference between the Baroque or Romantic period.
In other words, you’ll have to know your audience.
Do Your Research
Chris Thile, of Live from Here, is a fabulous example of a performer who takes the time to know his audience. Every week, Live from Here is broadcast from a different American city. The show features musicians of all genres, and often the audience buys tickets without having ever heard of the musicians that will be performing.
Because Chris shows up and acts like a local. He knows how the people in each city think of themselves, what the city is proud of, and what makes them laugh at themselves. If you listen to a broadcast, you’ll hear inside jokes that fly right over your head, but cause the entire audience to erupt in laughter.
How does he do that, and how can you do it too? Research.
If you are playing in a different town, it’s relatively straightforward. Google alone is a great tool. However, research works just as well in your own backyard.
If you are booked to play in a nonconventional venue, particularly one where the venue is drawing its own audience, do everything you can to learn about the interests of that audience. Perhaps there is an inside joke about the beloved owner. Maybe there’s a bit of well-known history you can allude to. If you are playing as part of a larger event, learn something about the event and the participants.
This isn’t to say that knowledge about the music you are presenting is unimportant, or shouldn’t be shared. Only to say that if you put in the effort to learn about what your audience is interested in and show that you are interested in them, you will be rewarded with a loyal following. And fans and followers is what a successful performing career rests upon.
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.