A biography summarizes an individual’s musical activities, typically some combination of their education, training, and professional experience. In its strongest form, the details, tone, and general feel of the bio will reinforce the persona the artist aims to portray.

50–300 words is common, though length varies by context. Any editorial constraints, such as word count, should be followed strictly to reduce the risk of undesired and undesirable changes to content.

• In a concert program, the soloist’s bio is often considerably longer than the bio of an ensemble member.
• Artists frequently publish multiple bios of varying length on their website.

The musician’s preferred name and professional activity (e.g., saxophone, soprano, choral conductor) should appear in the first sentence. The remaining content should be organized using a logical plan (see notes below). Hobbies, pastimes, and personal information, if included at all, are generally left to the final sentence.

An opera singer might organize their bio in reverse chronological order by season.
A teaching artist might organize their bio by thematic sections, such as orchestral performances, chamber music projects, and teaching activity.

A bio should be accessible to an educated non-specialist reader. Prioritize clarity, brevity, and a professional and engaging tone. Avoid complex sentence structures, adjectives and adverbs as a substitute for concrete details, drawn-out introductory clauses, and long lists. Excessively technical and excessively poetic language are both undesirable. As with writing in general a bio designed to inform and engage is generally more effective than one designed to impress.

Consider including the most relevant of these details:

preferred name
preferred pronouns
instrument /
area of specialization
repertoire specialization
(contemporary music, early music)
website address (directly after the last sentence of the bio)

solo performances (recitals, etc.)
feature performances (concertos, roles, etc.)
large ensemble activity (orchestra, chorus, etc.)
small ensemble activity (chamber music, vocal ensembles, etc.)
recordings (especially commercial releases, film, television)
notable premieres
notable venues
upcoming performances

• leadership (positions, experience, etc.)
• entrepreneurial activity (positions, experience, etc.)
• teaching activity (positions, experience, etc.)
outreach & enrichment activity
(books, articles, etc.)
notable projects

notable affiliations

testimonials (press quotes, critic reviews, etc.)
notable collaborations
competitions, awards, prizes

credentials (degrees, summer programs, young artist programs, etc.)
teachers, coaches, conductors
notable future activity
(graduation, future programs)

STEP 1. Use material from above to determine the length, format, and tone of your bio.

STEP 2. Use material from above to determine the content you’ll include in your bio.

STEP 3a. Use the opening sentence to express who you are and what you do.
STEP 3b. Use the material from STEP 2 to write the body of the bio.
STEP 3c. To track changes over time and separate versions, include the current date after the bio.

STEP 4. After a short break – at least 2 days, if possible – revise your bio using guidance in the “Tips and Strategies” section below and the “How to Revise” section of my post on revision.

STEP 5. Ask trusted mentors and colleagues “How can I improve this?” Review their feedback and revise if necessary.

Invest in the opening. It’s worth investing the time and energy required to make the first sentence as strong as possible, because you’ll never have the reader’s attention more fully than the first sentence. Express who you are and what you do while also engaging the reader with a striking image of your unique qualities as an artist.

Describe yourself favorably. Describe your experiences accurately without disclosing every sobering detail. You might include, for example, your experience performing the title role of Tristan without mentioning the gig was unpaid.

Emphasize professional status. Place references to educational institutions and private instructors to the end of the biography and, generally, exclude anything before undergraduate study. (This applies even if you’re still a student.) Students might also consider describing themselves as a “young professional” to spotlight their status as an emerging artist.

Prioritize ease of reading. The bio should be accessible (and engaging, ideally) for an educated general reader. Use direct language. Use simple sentence structure. Use brief paragraphs organized around clear themes. Notice how the previous three sentences are easier to read – and, for this reason, better in this context – than this lengthier, more complex sentence, which concludes with a recommendation to avoid jargon, specialist terminology, overly poetic language, extended introductory clauses, and lengthy lists that tire a reader.

Reject dogma. Rules are a type of guard rail, which is designed to protect you from potential danger. Occasionally, though, rules are an obstacle to what you’ve trying to achieve. An example appears in the next section. If you’re certain ignoring a rule will lead to a better outcome, set caution aside and proceed with confidence.

Customize your bio. Tailor your content for each audience or opportunity. In this way, the specific details you include, the character of the writing, and the thrust of the biography as a whole support the identity you wish to project.

For example, a musician writing a bio for an upcoming appearance as soloist in a concerto might open this version of their bio with a testament to their charisma and virtuosity as a performer. The first sentence might include a quote, a review, or some similar concrete evidence of their skill as a soloist. Activities as a soloist or featured performer will follow, ideally complemented by appropriate descriptors such “charismatic,” “virtuosic,” “dynamic,” and so on. Unrelated content, such as teaching activity or education, will be minimal or omitted entirely. Although it violates one of the earlier ”rules” (i.e., exclude anything that precedes undergraduate study), a reference to a childhood solo debut might be included because it conveys their talent and sustained success as a musician.

The same musician writing a bio for an upcoming appearance with their chamber music group might minimize (or set aside entirely) references to solo activity in favor of projects for small ensemble. Relevant activities will follow, as before, ideally complemented by appropriate descriptors such “collaborative,” “harmonious,” “compatible,” and so on.

Finally, on their the website, this same individual might publish a short version and a long version of their bio that includes activities as a soloist as well as a chamber musician.

Read other bios. Review bios of artists who play your instrument, specialize in your area, and do things you wish to do as an artist. Note ways these bios align with the guidance above. Be especially attentive to ways they depart from the guidance above. Is an unconventional feature something to avoid or is it something you might incorporate to good effect? Use the examples below to get started.

Below are two excellent bios from an actual concert program. My comments appear below.


The Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen has established herself in recent years as a versatile soloist on the international stage. She made her debut at the Berlin State Opera as Turno in Steffani’s L’Amor vien dal destino under the musical direction of René Jacobs, toured Europe with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and appeared as a soloist in Schumann’s Szenen aus Goethes Faust at London’s Barbican Hall under Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra. In July 2022 she was announced as one of Classic FM’s Rising Stars (30 under 30).

As an internationally sought-after concert singer, Ms. Vermeulen devotes herself with great passion to the Classical and Baroque repertoire. She has performed with Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan in Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (the latter released as a recording on the BIS label). Equally in demand as a soloist in Bach’s Passions, she recently worked with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and Residentie Orkest The Hague for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, while at the International Baroque Days at Melk Abbey in Austria she appeared with Concentus Musicus under Stefan Gottfried as the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and in a solo matinee featuring works by Geminiani, Handel, and Pepusch.


Countertenor Tim Mead was praised by the New York Times for his “alluring” and “consistently excellent” interpretations of a wide range of repertoire. He is widely is recognized as one of the finest countertenors performing today.

Highlights of the 2023–24 Season include his return to the Dutch National Opera for Ottone in Handel’s Agrippina and the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare for the Bach Collegium Japan. On the concert platform Mr. Mead will perform the title role in Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula with the English Concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in engagements with ensembles such as the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Netherlands Bach Society, and Orchestra Classique de Montréal.

Mr. Mead recently released his debut solo album, Sacroprofano (Alpha Classics, 2023), to great critical acclaim, adding to an already substantial discography including Beauteous Softness with La Nuova Musica (Pentatone, 2023) and Purcell Songs and Dances with Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien (Alpha, 2018). He studied music as a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, before continuing his vocal studies at the Royal College of Music.

Original source

Opening: Both bios open with informative and engaging content that also makes a claim about the success of the artist. The first substantiates the claim throughout the bio, with a focus on international performing activity. The second does so with complimentary quotes from a well-known publication.

Organization: Both bios are organized in a clear and logical manner. In the first, a single large section on international performing activity follows the opening paragraph, whereas in the second, the opening is followed by 3 sections organized by theme: activity for the 2023–24 performance season, commercial recordings, and education and training.

Education: The first bio excludes educational content altogether, projecting a fully professional persona. In the second bio, education details are de-emphasized by their appearance at the close, but by not excluding them altogether, the artist benefits from the prestige of affiliation with well-known institutions.

Alignment of objective, content, and tone. The first bio seeks, from the start, to portray an international performer who excels in numerous styles and genres. All that follows supports these goals, from the specific productions mentioned to the division of dramatic work and concert work. The second bio aims for the image of a leading performing, emphasizing superlatives in the first paragraph, title roles in the second paragraph, and solo recordings in the third paragraph.