Example of a Music Artistic Statement
Bryce Richardson is a 2016-2017 recipient of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship program, the most prestigious scholarship program at the UNCSA.
Music Artist Statement
By Bryce Richardson
Contrary to widespread belief, I do not play oboe. I play the bassoon. A majestic, beautiful, unique bass double reed instrument with a sound like gold. I have been playing this instrument for almost seven years now and it has become a passion that I am more than excited to pursue throughout my college career and beyond. This instrument has also led me to find other interests in the wonderful world that is music and art as a whole.
I originally played upright bass. However, when I moved down to South Carolina, my middle school lacked a strings program. So I picked up an old, broken wooden pipe made in Czechoslovakia called a bassoon. I immediately was drawn to the instrument by the word bass in the name and, honestly, it was weird. Unfortunately, my school didn’t have a band program for 6th graders, so I came to school an hour earlier to learn to play the bassoon. I found out early on that this was for me and I began to connect to music. However, in those early years up into my freshman year of high school it was just a casual thing I did on the side. That soon changed when I began taking lessons as a sophomore and I began really learning how to play the bassoon. As a result, I auditioned and was accepted into the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH). Entering the Governor’s School I knew I would become a better musician, but what I found was much more. It was here that I found my art.
The bassoon's part in the orchestra is one of the most diverse and, in my opinion, simply fun roles to play, with parts ranging from the simple supporting bass notes to the sonorous and expressive solos.
Like every classical musician, I long for opportunity to play in an incredible orchestra. I played principal bassoon in the Beaufort Youth Symphony Orchestra for t years and during my time at SCGSAH have been involved in many large ensembles. This is one of my favorite setting to play music. The bassoon's part in the orchestra is one of the most diverse and, in my opinion, simply fun roles to play, with parts ranging from the simple supporting bass notes to the sonorous and expressive solos. However, I have also found my voice in chamber music. The individuality and collaboration of a woodwind quintet makes playing chamber irresistibly enjoyable. Working on pieces in such an independent, intimate setting is such a rewarding process and one I’d like to consider myself at least adept at. I would be very musically satisfied playing in a chamber group as a future career. However, these are very classical, very “typical” careers for the average bassoonist. I strongly believe that the bassoon deserves a MUCH bigger, more prominent role as a modern musical instrument. While this thought almost puts me in physical pain, the bassoon is a highly underrated contemporary instrument. There is so much room for the bassoon to flourish in the 21st century musical environment that has yet to be tapped into! I love playing modern music and as an aspiring professional musician, I would definitely pursue playing in contemporary settings and hopefully commission more progressive pieces for the bassoon. Another nontraditional genre I’ve been considering immersing myself in, is jazz. Before you think to yourself, “the bassoon is not a jazz instrument!” search for Alexandre Silverio on YouTube. He is one of my favorite players and he’s doing great things for the modern bassoon. The Silverio quintet is a jazz combo that utilizes the bassoon as a melody instrument. And oh does it sound amazing! I contacted him asking for tips on entering this foreign world, and he sent me some jazz charts to help get started.
After I’ve established my classical playing to a higher level, I would love to begin studying in depth jazz bassoon. As a final side note on modern bassoon playing and myself as an artist, another idea I’d like to pursue is an independent music project. Recently a cellist came to SCGSAH sharing with us his “Music in Unfamiliar Spaces.” Basically, he plays where classical music is not typically performed, from coffee shops to beer breweries, with the idea of making art music more accessible to the uninvolved public. This project really struck a chord with me and I will be brainstorming an idea to explore through a music project in the near future.
Now this next paragraph is on a seemingly unrelated tangent but I feel I should share all of my future ideas as an artist and musician. Another (very unclassical) interest I have is in the production of electric music. Using a midi controller keyboard and various digital audio workstations, I create my own original electronic music. This is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding musical activities I’ve ever engaged in. Although I am still new to it and am eager to learn more, I feel as though this is something I would love to continue doing in my future. Learning how to use digital audio workstations has also lead me to other opportunities such as recording and editing audio. I am currently editing a recorded poem for submission to the Missouri Review’s annual audio contest. During this process I have found that I could potentially see myself doing this as a career. Similarly, I am also interested in filmmaking. I have worked with a few friends in creating short films and I feel as though I could really explore my artistic visions through this art form and being at a school where I am surrounded by talented filmmakers would allow me to pursue this interest further. On yet another final tangent, I also play the guitar, bass, ukulele, and saxophone and enjoy playing these instruments in various informal bands.
One of the most important tools for advancing a career in the creative world is the use of a personal brand. Once the domain strictly of commercial enterprises, the principles of branding are now used successfully by individuals who want to clearly communicate why they are the best person to provide a service to the audiences they want to reach. The same principles that have made Steinway “the finest pianos in the world” and Nike products for athletes who “just do it” can be applied to musicians and artists who want to distinguish themselves from their peers.
Branding is an especially powerful marketing tool for creative artists because having a brand is about knowing your authentic unique gift and communicating that gift to the people you want to attract.
In short, a brand is your vision of who you are and what you do for your audiences. It encompasses:
• a message
• that expresses what makes you unique and memorable
• and distinguishes you from your competition
• so that your target audience connects with you emotionally and wants to work with you.
How does branding apply to professional musicians and artists?
Think of all the wonderfully talented musicians and artists out there. If you perceive yourself as just one of hundreds of talented musicians, it is easy to feel discouraged from pursuing the career of your dreams. This is where having a brand can help turn your career around. Once you see yourself as unique, it reduces the pressures of competition because you know that you have something special to offer. It is the start of trusting your gift. The same holds true when you know why are you are the ideal person to satisfy the needs of your target audience. If you truly believe that you are the best person for that audience, it reinforces your uniqueness.
For example, many musicians I know are eager to shake up the world of classical music and do something out of the box in their career. How they succeed depends on their knowing what specifically makes them great and then identifying the audiences that will appreciate their unique offering. Here are two examples.
One musician I know wants to create intimate music festivals where audiences and performers actively interact through pre-performance discussions and post-performance receptions. He brings his excitement, focus and leadership to open-minded, engaged and curious audiences in order to create a memorable experience for them.
Another musician I know shares his music through private home concerts where he both plays his favorite repertoire and shares his insights about the music so that his listeners feel an emotional connection to the music. His unique contribution is to give his audience exclusive access to an updated “salon” experience that few that music lovers today ever get to experience.
How can having a brand help boost your professional artistic career?
On a practical level, having a brand helps you define your career objectives. Our first musician had a goal of creating one-of-a-kind music festivals that emphasize audience interaction with the performers. Our second musician’s goal was to create a network of home concerts. Once their desired results were clear, they were able to map out the actions they needed to take to achieve those meaningful objectives.
Having a brand also helps you work smarter, not harder, because your efforts are focused on the specific audiences you want to attract. Our first musician will pursue audiences who enjoy a festival atmosphere, where the second musician will direct his efforts to finding people who are eager to host home concerts. They save time because they know whom to pursue and what they are going after.
Interestingly, having a brand also has a spiritual component. Once you see yourself as unique in this world, you no longer have the pressure of weighing yourself against the competition because there simply is no one else who has exactly the same offering you do. This is particularly important in the creative world. Instead of seeing yourself as one of many talented artists, you become aware of the abundance of the universe and perceive the world as a generous place with enough success for all individuals with their own special gifts. This helps reinforce your belief in yourself, which in turn helps you attract the right public and flourish in your chosen career.
If you value spirituality, connectedness, abundance and authenticity, your brand is a powerful manifestation of those values. And the more you are aligned with your values, the more motivated and inspired you will be to pursue your goals. Both of the musicians in our example had this experience once they created their brands and began to align their actions in accordance with their brand identity statements.
As an artist, having a brand is a profound way to connect with your music and your audience, and a major step in taking your career to a new level. Just follow this 4-step process to create your personal brand!
(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010
I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:
Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success. In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and Personal Branding and Networking. She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.