The Attractiveness of Being Knowledgeable

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 - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

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 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.

(The Right Kind of) Knowledge is Power

We’re all attracted to people who know what they are talking about. Competency, intelligence – these are universal values. However, there’s something even better than spending time with someone who knows what they’re talking about. It’s spending time with someone who knows what YOU’RE talking about, or more precisely, what you’re interested in talking about.


Know your Audience

Just as we wouldn’t wear jeans to a gala or a tux to a football game, different venues and different audiences require different presentations. This is something performers inherently understand but often take only half-way.

Matching a performance to an audience is about more than how you dress or even what you play. It’s about crafting an experience that will delight and in order to do that, you must know what is likely to delight in a given situation.

For example, an audience made up of primarily music department faculty may be delighted by hearing the hidden history behind a particular piece – telling that story makes the performer seem knowledgeable. However, that same story shared with a general audience at a summer festival could make the performer seem arrogant and out of touch.

We all know someone (let’s call him Uncle Fred) who will talk our ear off about the same subject, assuming we share the passion, never noticing our eyes glaze over or our desperate search for an escape.

Don’t be Uncle Fred. Don’t present what interests you, present what is most likely to interest your audience.  

How on earth are you supposed to know what that is?

Do Your Research

Music is the language of emotions, and if we are to connect with someone through mutual emotional expression, it helps to know something about them.

If you are traveling to perform, take the time to learn something about the place you’re visiting –  local lore, important events, the city’s claim to fame. Even knowing something about the local sports teams can build a connection with an audience.

Chris Thile, from American National Public Radio’s live weekly variety show, Live from Here, does an excellent job of connecting with diverse audiences across the United States. He tells inside jokes, refers to places and things as a local would, expresses admiration for the things that make the local community proud. He seems to know and care about his audience (despite playing in a different city every week), and his audience loves him for it.

If you are performing at home, spend some time thinking about the audience you will be performing for and the kinds of things that may interest them – especially in a non-traditional venue full of their fans. Research the pieces you’ll present with an eye towards trivia that would captivate non-musicians. Keep it relatable.

Knowledgeable people are attractive, but only if they’re knowledgeable about things we care about. Put in the effort to discover what those things are for your audience and you will be rewarded with a loyal following.

For more tips about building a profitable career as a classical performer, check out my free webinar here.