A Musician in the Blogosphere
In recent years, the blog (a truncation of the expression “web log”) has become a popular means of sharing information and opinions, and there are thousands of blogs across the web on the myriad aspects of music and music education.
I have always been interested in writing about music and my own blog,
'The Cross-Eyed Pianist’, started initially in 2010 as
a place where I could record thoughts about the music
I was playing and enjoying at concerts.
I'd already had some experience of blogging through my food blog
) so the initial set up process was easy. In the five years since I
established The Cross-Eyed Pianist, my readership has grown from a handful of hits to ca.
15,000 per month, and the blog has provided other outlets
for my writing too, including concert reviews and guest posts
for a number of other classical music and music
education sites around the world.
People tell me my blog now puts me at the heart of the UK
classical music community: I am not sure this is true,
though it is undoubtedly very flattering to be considered in such terms. But what is certain is that through my blog I have been fortunate enough to connect with many musicians, piano teachers, concert promoters, artists’
agents and other music professionals, journalists and
bloggers around the world. All this feeds into my musical landscape, and my working life as a piano teacher and performer. A mark of the respect with which my blog is regarded in the music community, and its high profile, is the number of invitations I now receive to review concerts and CDs, interview artists, and attend other music-related events. In many ways, my blog has become my musical social life.
The key to a successful blog is an attractive accessible design which is easy to navigate and does not overload the reader with too much information. Try to develop a consistent online persona or "voice", and don't expect overnight success: it can take several years for an online profile to grow. Keep the content fresh and regularly updated: no one wants to read a blog which lies fallow for weeks or months. My own blog includes posts on piano repertoire and technique, teaching and performing, concert and CD reviews, previews of upcoming events, and rather more esoteric musings on music and the musician's life, as well as the 'Meet the Artist’ series, a popular weekly interview slot now entering its third year (featured artists include Peter Donohoe, Mahan Esfahani, James MacMillan, Janina Fialkowska and Stephen Hough). I also accept guest posts which give readers an opportunity to hear another voice apart from mine.
A musician's blog may take many forms: one of the best is by British pianist Stephen Hough who writes about the multi-faceted life of the international musician. There are blogs which offer concert and CD reviews; still more on teaching, technique and the practice of practising. 'Practising the Piano' by pianist and teacher Graham Fitch is an intelligent and practical blog which covers all aspects of piano playing (it was through our respective blogs that Graham and I met and have since become good friends and colleagues).
Setting up a blog couldn’t be easier. You don’t need to understand HTML or other computer coding, and most blogging platforms are free to use (though many charge extra for premium “themes” and upgraded space to enable video and sound clips, a personal domain name, personalised email and other add-ons). Wordpress and Blogger tend to be the most commonly-used and user-friendly platforms. Other popular platforms include Tumblr, Wix, Live Journal and Weebly. It’s worth noting that many of these blogging platforms can also be used to create a free website, into which you can integrate blog posts. All have the function to stream published posts direct to social networks such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and many more, together with sharing functions which enable your visitors to share your content across their networks, thus increasing your reach.
By linking your own blog to others, reading and commenting on other people’s blogposts, and engaging in discussion and interacting with your readers, a blog can become a lively place for a stimulating exchange of ideas and online 'conversations'. Alongside the personal website - the musician's “calling card” of the 21st-century - the blog has become an integral part of the musician's online presence and an important and enjoyable means of communicating with one's audience and others across the international musical community.
The Cross-Eyed Pianist’s stats:
Blog founded: 2010
Number of published posts to date: 952
Total number of views: 529,042
Number of blog followers (including Twitter & Facebook followers): 3437
Most popular post: How to deal with rogue mobile phones during concerts
Most popular ‘Meet the Artist’ interview: Stephen Hough
Some of my favourite music blogs
- high-quality concert and opera reviews written by a lecturer in music at one of London’s leading universities.
Practicing the Piano
– blog on myriad aspects of playing the piano by pianist and acclaimed teacher Graham Fitch.
Stephen Hough's blog - on the Telegraph.co.uk
Susan Tomes (blog of pianist, teacher and writer Susan Tomes) - susantomes.com
- advice on practising, performing, managing stage fright, musicians’ health.
- blog of pianist Christine Stevenson. Articles on composers and repertoire compliment the themes of Christine’s performing schedule.
Frances Wilson is a London-based pianist, piano teacher,
concert reviewer and blogger on music and pianism as
The Cross-Eyed Pianist.
She is a reviewer for international concert and
opera listings and review site Bachtrack.com, and
contributes art and exhibition reviews to US-based culture and art site
She writes a regular column on aspects of piano playing for
‘Pianist’ magazine’s online content,
and contributes guest articles to a number of classical
music and music education websites around the world,
including Clavier Companion and The Sampler,
the blog of SoundandMusic.org,
the UK charity for new music.
Frances is Artistic Director of the South London Concert Series,
an innovative concert concept which gives talented amateur
musicians the opportunity to perform alongside young and
emerging professional and semi-professional artists in the
same formal concert setting
Read more on her blog: www.crosseyedpianist.com