I had a good career as a young pianist around ten years ago, performing in several venues and winning some local competitions. This came to a halt when I had to stop due to severe back pain that made it impossible for me to practise at the piano. I managed to take the Music School Diploma in Piano Performance (with 10/10 cum laude) and then I had to stop playing, taking a different career path.

Long story short, in September this year, around ten years later, I managed to solve my back issues. I prepared a new repertoire and am going to perform in a music venue in my current town. It is a small venue, and I am going to share the evening with a clarinettist (we are both playing solo, I am the headliner). I am playing in the UK.

I was preparing a little leaflet with my biography. My biography is short because:

a) I lived in a different country then, in the past, and mentioning the places I played ten years ago would not mean anything to the people here

b) I won mostly local competition that are probably meaningless to people here.

c) I didn't play for the ten years after the diploma, important years for getting stuff done.

So in my short biography I briefly mention that I performed in several venues and won several competitions - without any detail, then I say that I graduated in 2008. At this point, should I mention that I stopped playing the piano due to health issue connected with piano playing? And that this is my first concert in 10 years? How would this come across?

It goes without saying that I am really proud about my story and I would like to share it. But people may think that I am bragging or getting too personal. Maybe people don't want to hear "excuses" about why I stopped playing for 10 years.

So.. how would this come across? Should I just not mention anything and ignore the fact that last entry in my biography is from 2008?


4 Answers 4


I used to call this the Rock Star Motto:

Never apologize, never explain.

If you're an entertainer and you're not famous, nobody's interested in your problems. They have their own problems. The audience just wants to be entertained. If you promo by giving an excuse (subtext: "Gee folks, I haven't played for 10 years, please be gentle."), the audience is going to think that maybe they won't have a good time. Frame your promo positively.

History is in the past. Impress your audience now and your audience will grow in the future.

PS: The quote is actually from a 19th century Oxford scholar, Benjamin Jovett:

Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl.


From what I have been told, people don't really care how long you've been playing or about years/age. (I am an emerging composer and I wondered if I should explain why I don't have many compositions in my early 40s.) You could list the titles of the competitions you won, say that you've been playing piano since you were young, and maybe mention the venues and countries you've played in. The most important thing is now. Are you playing well? Great. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I know people with bios that are amazing on paper but who really aren't great players.

  • Starting late and having a big gap in your career is different. In my case I would leave people wondering what I have done during the past 10 years..a person starting late would not raise such question
    – Vaaal
    Jul 1, 2018 at 12:15
  • 2
    @Vaaal, I'm just saying that they don't need to know there was a gap at all! Why even bother mentioning dates. Just say what you have done, not when.
    – Heather S.
    Jul 1, 2018 at 12:53
  • There's a saying - 'you're only as good as your last gig...' Make this one the best!
    – Tim
    Oct 13, 2019 at 9:08

Sadly, the only credit the general audience would be really interested in - the only one worth putting on the posters - is 'Finalist on Britain's got Talent'.

But this is a debut recital in your home town. The audience will be largely your friends and neighbours (as long as you PESTER them to buy tickets!)

In this particular case - and ONLY for this concert, in this town - pick the appropriate parts from something like this:

'@Vaaal's promising career in {country} was cut short by back pain. 10 years later he is proud to be making a second debut in his new home of ... Special thanks to the doctors at ... who helped to make this possible. Proceeds of the concert will go to {appropriate medical charity}.'


I look at what are the reasons we print and distribute this kind of literature and find the main reason is to sell others on your talents and abilities to entertain people. The accepted tried and proven method to accomplish this goal is to keep things positive, play up accomplishments, use positive reviews, and speak in complimentary and glowing terms about what you do. Avoid negative statements at all costs. You're selling yourself and what you do, not trying to garner sympathy for your life's situations. Then do your best to live up to their expectations.

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