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 classical music and music education.
I have always been interested in writing about music and my own blog, ‘The Cross-Eyed Pianist’, started initially as a place where I could record thoughts about the music I was playing and enjoying at concerts. In the years since I established The Cross-Eyed Pianist in 2010, my readership has grown from a handful of hits each day to c20,000 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, including Interlude HK. Through my blogging, I have been fortunate enough to connect with many musicians, piano teachers, music professionals, journalists and other bloggers around the world. All this feeds into my musical landscape, and my working life as a pianist, writer and teacher, as well as providing interesting and stimulating interactions and conversations with many others across the globe.
A musician’s blog may take many forms. There are many, many blogs on teaching, technique and the practice of practising. ‘Practising the Piano’, for example, 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 become good friends and colleagues, and since 2015 teacher and pupil). Some musicians’ blogs chart the exigencies of the musician’s working life or focus on particular aspects of repertoire and/or performing. Others examine the issues of the day which exercise many musicians and music professionals: audience engagement, attracting younger people to classical music concerts, how to programme new music, promoting classical music to a wider audience, music education and so forth. There are even a few satirical blogs on classical music, which gently (mostly!) poke fun at the more esoteric or precious aspects of the profession, or the rather outmoded traditions of concert etiquette.
For the professional musician, a blog can be an excellent addition to an existing website, offering readers a glimpse into the musician’s working life and insights into what makes that particular performer tick. Such an approach offers fans (“audience”) and potential fans another point of entry into the musician’s world outside of public concerts and recordings, and heightens awareness about that musician as well as building a distinctive identity or “brand”. And goodness knows, classical musicians need to stand out in today’s fast-moving and highly competitive industry. If an artist cannot be differentiated from others of a similar calibre, how will they cut it in the business of performing? Write about what you love and what interests you: blogging is, after all, a personal medium, and if you don’t sound interested and involved in what you are writing about, why should anyone read you?
By linking your own blog to others, reading and commenting on other posts, and engaging in discussion with your readers, a blog can become a lively place for a stimulating exchange of ideas and online ‘conversations’, and alongside the personal website – the musician’s ‘calling card’ of the 21st-century – the blog can be 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.
Some music blogs to explore
Susan Tomes, Scottish pianist and writer
The Rambler – writings on modern composition
Corymbus – blog with a special focus on lesser known and rarely performed repertoire
Piano Dao – thoughts on piano teaching and pianism, inspired by Chinese philosophy
A View from the Podium – blog by conductor Kenneth Woods