The Reluctant Self-Promoter

The world is full of musicians happy to speak with anyone about their newest project, who they are performing with, who they studied with, upcoming auditions, etc. I am not one of those musicians. The instrument I play, the bass trombone, rarely gets the spotlight. The best gig I ever had was as a member of the Arizona Opera Orchestra and I loved it in no small part because I could do my job in the orchestra pit while all the action was on the stage above me. I often compare playing the bass trombone to being an offensive lineman in football…if I’m doing my job correctly you won’t really notice. If I screw up (i.e. allow a career ending sack of the star quarterback) then you’ll know I’m there and I may have ruined your fantasy football season.

I have a public face…Director of the Music Department, Director of the SNC Jazz Ensemble, instructor of a few relatively popular music-themed Core Curriculum courses…but I am not terribly comfortable trumpeting my professional accomplishments out into the world. 

And unfortunately, in my line of work I need to “sell” myself (and my work) more than I am confortable with. I need to sell myself to the members of the personnel committee for promotion. Sell myself to my colleagues in Faculty Development when I apply for funding to travel and perform. Sell myself to peers at other institutions to see if they are interested in having me share my work with their students. I would much rather be the type of musician that consistently plays at a high level and goes about her/his business without interruption. 

So I am approaching the DigPins project with some enthusiasm, hoping it will:

  1. Teach me some skills for easily managing my professional online identity, and 
  2. Motivate me to begin a few of the ideas I have been carrying with me for some time, waiting for the right opportunity. 

Thank you for reading about my own little neurosis. I hope everyone enjoys the next few weeks!

(3) Comments

  1. Andrew

    I’m not sure if the following personal commentary
    is appropriate in the enterprise in which we’re engaged with #digpins
    but Erik is hiding some of his light under a bushel.
    He may be low profile on bass trombone
    but definitely not when he conducts jazz band
    where he is front and center and IS the music.
    You need to be there!

  2. Autumm Caines

    Self-promotion is hard Erik. I’ve been trying to figure out how to address this more directly in #DigPINS but just so you know you are not alone. I feel it too and I’ve seen so many struggle with it. The problem is that you can’t just ignore it.

    Another side of this that I struggle with is amplification of others. I know that people are on the web for lots of different reasons but I never like to assume that someone is on because they want to be. I know sometimes people have to be on for work or for school. I sometimes find posts that I would love to tweet out or otherwise amplify but I always hesitate if the author is not amplifying themselves. Maybe I’m overthinking it but I always wonder if they would appreciate the amplification but are just afraid of self-promoting themselves. Hard to tell and in the end I just end up playing it safe and leaving it be but this is kind of a bummer because it means that the same self-promoters get the attention.

  3. Susan

    Eric, your enthusiasm when approaching DigPINS is exciting. Thanks for sharing your self promotion reluctance. I totally understand. However, due to your line of work and the need to “toot your own horn” I’m wondering if showcasing your “work” digitally would be easier for you.

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