How I can help you write and speak

taking my courseI’ve mentioned that I’m thinking I should launch a business, in which I help people to write and talk about music. At the end of this post, I’ll offer links to previous posts that touch on this, in various ways. But for now, in advance of any formal launch of the business, let me lay out the outline of what I can offer.

First: who might benefit?

  • People who want to be music critics, and would like to work on how to describe what they hear.
  • Musicians, who want to talk more effectively at rehearsals, or talk more effectively to audiences, when they want to do that, or are required to.
  • Board and staff members from classical music organizations, including large ones, who need to discuss musical matters — the choice of a new music director, to pick one example — and want both to discuss these things better, and feel more confident doing it.
  • Anyone who wants to interest people in the music you make, with marketing, press releases, publicity, social media, or in ways you might invent for yourself.
  • Members of the audience, the salt of the musical earth, people who simply listen to music, but want to sharpen their sense of what they’ve heard, and talk about it more confidently to friends.

That’s a start. I’m sure there are more people I might help, in more ways.

A few things I’m certain of:

  • Anyone who listens to music can talk about it. It doesn’t matter what training in music you do or don’t have. If you listen, you hear something. And if you hear something, you can describe what you hear. Even if the words are slow in coming! I always take time with my students, encouraging them to speak the thoughts I know are in their minds — thoughts they may be reluctant to speak because they thing they don’t know enough. Well, we all could know more. But don’t sell yourself short! Start with what you do know. You know more than you think.
  • Even shy people can talk. I’ve seen that in my classes. You just need encouragement, and the freedom to take your time. If you’re speaking in public, shyness can even make people like you, because you’re being genuine, showing who you are.
  • Anyone can learn to write better, from people who think they can’t write at all, to people who in fact write very well. As any professional writer knows, one on one sessions with a good editor are worth their weight in gold. You learn to clarify things that might not be clear in your writing, and — above all — to find the precise words that best convey your thoughts and your feelings.
  • The key to selling yourself — marketing yourself, publicizing yourself, building your audience — is to know who you are, and to find words to express that. Once you’re comfortable speaking straight from your core, you can craft larger statements to draw in an audience. And not some random, lowest common denominator audience, but precisely the people who’ll like what you are, at your core.

How I can help you:

  • One on one sessions, by phone, Skype, or (if the geography works) in person. These, as a rule, would be one hour long.
  • Group sessions (small groups, by phone, Skype video, or (again, if possible) in person. Perfect for boards and staffs. Large groups possible, though only in person. Sessions should be more than one hour long.
  • Day-long workshops, which might only work in person. An excellent way to develop skills, for groups.
  • Courses, full-length, or compressed. I could, for instance, teach a version of my Juilliard music criticism course at a school, for a full semester, in person, or online, or with a blend of online work and face to face classes. Or I could teach a compressed version of the course, in a week, which would work perfectly by phone, by Skype, and online.

If anyone’s interested, please email me. My rates might start at $125 for a one-hour one on one session by phone or online (a rate I’ve seen others charge for similar work).

Some relevant posts:

My music criticism class at Juilliard

Talking about music — why you should be both objective and subjective

Talking about music — some other general guidelines

A workshop I taught — how I encouraged critics to be more individual

Another workshop — how I helped the entire staff of the Pittsburgh Symphony to talk about music

I’ll launch my business more formally later, as I’ve said. But I’m happy to go to work for you right now.

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