How Not to Write an Application

From time to time we get applications to perform from musicians. And while we will not share the personal details, these e-mails are a good learning experience for any musician out there.

Let us go through this e-mail step by step.

  1. Subject Line: The subject line “Concert” does not mean anything. In a fast-moving world, make the subject line specific. In this case, it should read: “Proposal for a Piano recital or a Cello and Piano Concert”.
  2. Salutation: Starting an e-mail with “Dear Sir/Madame” is the first sign that the author has not done her homework. If you do your homework you will address any e-mail to the right person. In this case, it should have read “Dear Bernhard” or “Dear Mr. Kerres”.
  3. First Paragraph: The first paragraph needs to establish a bit of trust. Starting off about you – unless the recipient already knows you – is not good. Instead, start with them and show that you have done your research! You could write, for example, “I am impressed by your piano series. A few months ago I had the chance to listen to N.N. in your hall. It would be a joy for me to perform in that series.” This shows that you know about the concerts in the hall you are writing to.
    It is good to include in the first paragraph why you are writing. So the sentence “I propose…” is useful.
  4. Following Paragraphs: The following paragraphs list too many conservatories, orchestras, and countries. Nothing, what really adds value. Important is, what you are doing now. Everything else can be attached in a bio.
    Furthermore, the e-mail contains links to 8 (!) YouTube videos and two websites. Even the most benevolent person does not have the time to watch all the videos. Do not include more than three video links and one webpage link in an e-mail. That is enough for a first impression.
    Grammatically, jumping between the first and the third person is irritating. You might ask native speakers to check important e-mails. But we do understand that many of us are not native English speakers, so we do not expect everything to be perfect.
  5. Ending: Normally it is good to end with action. E.g. “I will call you next week to see if you might be interested in our proposal.” In any case, you better include at least a phone number.

Make sure that you know whom you are writing to. Write only to festivals, promoters, and presenters where you have a fair chance to perform. Do your research before writing!

Good luck!

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