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Liz Lambson

The Musician's Résumé – Part 2: Writing & Distributing

April 1, 2013 at 2:39 PM

A well-written résumé can be your ticket to the job of your dreams. (Photo by woodleywonderworks.)

A well-written résumé can be your ticket to the job of your dreams. (Photo by woodleywonderworks.)

In "The Musician's Résumé – Part 1: Getting Started" on our Kennedy Violins blog, we brainstormed ideas on how to get started with a musical résumé. Now that we know the direction we're headed, it's time to put it all together.



Keep in mind that your résumé should include a combination of the information below whether you are a performer or teacher.


Everyone needs to include the same basic information to start, regardless of your end goal:

  1. Full name

  2. Contact information (phone, e-mail, address)

  3. Educational background and degrees/certifications obtained

  4. Primary Instrument and style (classical, jazz, folk, rock, etc.)

  5. Secondary instrument(s). Note: Only list instruments you can play fairly well--not the oboe you played for one year in middle school. As a rule of thumb, honestly consider your capabilities: could you perform in an ensemble or teach beginner/basic music lessons on this instrument? If so, list it.


Below your contact information you will clarify your emphasis in the first (and main) section. Group information in a logical way: chronologically, in order of significance (recommended), or in a combination of both (i.e. categories with information within the category in chronological order).


Performers will emphasize performance experiences on a shorter, focused, résumé that doesn't need wordy descriptions. According to The Musician's Résumé Handbook by Bob Borden and Kathy Ivy of the Eastman School of Music, "Performance résumé must be limited to one page and should include only educational training and performance experience. All material should be listed in order of performance, without any description or list of duties."

However, while its up to you how much and what information you include, you might consider noting your roles as either a section player, principle, or soloist, unless you've exclusively been a section player only and repeatedly mentioning it is unnecessary.

What to include:



Towards the bottom of the page, include info that shows you're a well-rounded individual with other marketable skills:

ABOVE: A modern résumé layout by Conor Luddy. Choose a style and readable font that reflect the impression you hope to give about yourself.


There are many ways to take advantage of the space on the page of a modern résumé, limiting white dead space and including all the important information you can. Working with columns and even spreadsheet cells can help distribute information evenly across a page.

Using light colored paper, like a classy off-white, can also give it a nice touch. However, as most résumés are distributed online now, you may not need to worry about paper. Still, you could make the background of your résumé a non-white, unassuming color for interest in your PDF or digital file.


Now you're ready to send! Send this résumé (along with a brief cover or introductory letter of inquiry) by e-mails or snail-mail to orchestra managers, school administrators, or other potential employers. You might even Include a recording (on a CD or as a sound file attached to e-mail) or yourself performing.

TIP: Once your résumé has been handed over, don't just wait for a response, be ready to perform! Have audition pieces ready, to play, be brushed up on your conducting, or have a first lesson for students prepared.


Once your music résumé is complete, we would love to see it here at Kennedy Violins! Feel free to contact me at with questions or with your résumé for review. As supporters of the music community, we want to see you succeed.

All the best!

The KV Team

From Mary Ellen Goree
Posted on April 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM
As the principal 2nd violin of a professional orchestra, I see a lot of resumes when we advertise a vacancy. I have no experience with resumes intended for other sorts of professional positions, but if you are submitting a resume for an audition, here is what we want to see:

Your name, contact information, instrument, and if the ad included more than one position for your instrument, the position(s) for which you would like to audition.

In this order: professional experience (most recent first); solos/chamber music performances (please don't list your senior recital here, everyone does a senior recital); education including institutions, degrees, any honors, major teachers, and master classes with major artists.

What we do NOT care about: secondary instruments (if you're auditioning for a violin opening, the fact that you play piano or viola is the very definition of irrelevant), gigs, hobbies, summary or objective statements (presumably you want a job with an orchestra or why would you be auditioning?), employment that has nothing to do with music, or your childhood teacher unless that teacher is a big name. We also don't really want to see your picture.

None of that extraneous information will hurt you, at least at my orchestra, but it's annoying to have to sift through someone's side interest in gourmet cooking or every wedding they've ever played in order to get a sense of whether or not this person is a good candidate to hear at an audition. If you win our audition, then yes, we're interested in you as a person, especially if that includes bringing baked goods to rehearsal. But we are contractually prohibited from looking at resumes during the actual audition anyway, so if you win, we'll find out and if you don't win, it doesn't matter.

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