Jenny Dyson

flute, piccolo & alto flute

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Navigating the world of a freelance musician!

YCAT Sounding Board - do I need to sell myself?

By Jenny Dyson, Nov 29 2016 01:57PM

It's quite apt that my first blog post is focused the seminar I attended on November the 17th, in the historic setting of the Royal Overseas Leuge, hosted by the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT), with thier newly set up YCAT Sounding Board. The Sounding Board has been created to offer "industry career support and advice to young and emerging musicians through open-access seminars, coaching and mentoring".


The event was structured with a 45 minute talk, 30 minutes for questions with the panel and then refreshments, with time set aside for networking after. The word 'networking' has always left me feeling cold but it is something which I have realised more and more that we have to do in a freelance creative career and that we do already even if we do not realise it. When I arrived, I was one of the first and was greeted by a lovely YCAT team, which I found I had already met and knew 75% of already! I sat down and began talking to the lady next to me, a wonderful and friendly Harpist in London called Eleanor Dunsdon. By the end of the event I had reconnected with old university colleuges, made new connections and exchanged details with at least one other musician. Even if we hate the idea of networking and think we're inately bad, sometimes by being seen, by turning up and being yourself you ARE netowrking and well!


The talk itself was hosted by YCAT Cheif Executive and Artistic Director Alistair Tait who led a versatile panel of professionals in various areas of the music industry: Sam Jackson (Managing Editor of Classic FM), James McAulay (founder of musician's database 'Encore'), Alexandra Dariescu (International concert pianist) and Nicky Thomas (Director of PR company, Nicky Thomas Media Consultancy). The session was extremely well directed and each question opened up hoest, straight-talking and helpful discussion, offering advice, inspiration and support those musicians in the audience - the majority like me, recent graduates looking to increase their projects and work base.


I took away from the seminar a great deal of helpful advice and encouragment but some of the points that ressonated most with me were:


- Always say thank you: is is very easy to do but so many people only thank verbally, it doesn't hurt to send a card/email/letter to show your thanks.

- Be relevant: try and connect your social media posts to trending hashtags or current affairs, you never know if it will take the twitterverse by storm!

- Be true to yourself as an artist: don't take social media pictures just because you think you need to, make it relevent to you and always tell a story - emotive or for self-expression.

- Make sure all you online content is as polished as you are! It doesn't matter how incredible you are, if you online content such as videos and website aren't high quality it could really damage your image.


The YCAT Sounding Board are posting excellent and clear advice that arises from these seminars which are continuing through the year on their twitter, facebook and on youtube. Take a look - you will be encouraged and inspired (it's even rumoured that these talks will be happening in the North of the country *celebrates*) so watch this space!!


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