Meri’s Musical Musings

How to hire musicians for events

Posted on: March 14, 2013

  1. If possible, let them pick their own music. Especially if it’s a background music performance. However, this is not always possible, especially if it’s for a wedding or a seasonal performance such as Christmas.
  2. If you have a request for a piece that the musicians don’t know (particularly if it’s not classical or jazz), provide the sheet music or a link to it, or at least the Artist and Title of the piece, and, if applicable, the album it’s on. Don’t just give a title, just the words, or hum the tune and expect the musicians to know it or fill in the rest. You MAY be charged extra fees if the musician has to search for the music, purchase it, or arrange it themselves.
  3. If the musician uses signed contracts for engagements, sign it. More and more are using them, as many have been burned from not being paid adequately or at all. Musicians who are members of unions will often have one
  4. Be clear on what type of keyboard instrument is provided, none, a keyboard, a digital piano, an upright acoustic piano, a grand piano, or an organ. Many people think keyboards and pianos are the same thing, but they are not. People even confuse organs with pianos.
  5. Understand what the standard fee is for solo musicians and ensembles of various sizes.
  6. Understand what the musician’s unions minimum fees for solo musicians and ensembles of various sizes.
  7. Hire professionals! Especially for weddings, and particularly when hiring singers or pianists. You don’t want those special days ruined by a singer with a dreadful voice. And have a backup in mind especially when hiring singers in the fall and winter, since colds can limit their ability to sing significantly.
  8. Especially when hiring singers and wind players or ensembles, aim for a smoke-free environment.
  9. Pay them promptly after the event in person just after it’s over.
  10. If using a piano, make sure the piano has no broken, chipped, or missing keys, pedals, or strings, and that it is tuned within a week before the event, especially if you are hiring an ensemble that requires a piano. Some if not many ensembles that require one will refuse to work if the piano needs tuning or repairs, or will charge extra for it if they hire the tuner/technician. Some instruments, too, are more flexible than others in tuning, strings can usually adjust up or down in pitch level (several Hertz) by quite a bit, while the clarinet is almost impossible to do more than 2 or 3 Hertz in either direction. And book a tuner/technician at least 1-2 weeks in advance, as good tuners/technicians are usually booked two weeks ahead or more.


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  • None
  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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