More Music Lessons for Writers

Recently a number of questions have come up from writers who want to write about music and musicians. I’m going to offer some thoughts here from time to time, and I hope they’ll be helpful. I spent thirty years as a classical singer and teacher of voice and related subjects, and it’s my personal mission to see that writers get it right when they write about music. Some recommendations if you want to use music and musicians in your writing:

  1. Ask a musician. Like other professionals, we love to talk about our work, and we’re happy to help you with details.
  2. Watch musicians work. Attend a concert, but arrive early to see how the musicians handle their instruments, how they carry them, set them down, prepare them, and then put them away.
  3. Take a class. Every community college offers a music appreciation class, and no prior experience is required.
  4. Understand the difference between classical music, folk music, jazz, rock, bluegrass, and so forth. Different musicians handle their instruments differently, and have different requirements of talent, practice, and performance.
  5. If you’re going to use quotes in different languages, get someone who really knows to vet them for you! Errors creep in through assumptions, or trusting phrase books.