It might be surprising to know how many times I am contacted by people planning events and their only question is, “How much do you charge?” Perhaps after reading this list of questions to ask musicians, and seeing our answers, you might become aware of other factors that you might not have thought of. Sometimes finding the least expensive musician can be very costly in terms of your time and stress. So here is checklist of questions to ask musicians:
AUDIBILITY: Specifically what do you provide to insure that the volume of music is appropriate for the space and the people (neither too loud nor too quiet)? What qualifications do you have in working with sound equipment?
- Our answers: Yes we do have sound systems available for you. Most professional musicians do. We find that if there are more than twenty guests at an event, the harp becomes somewhat inaudible. Since the purpose in providing background music is to create an atmosphere, that becomes difficult to do when you can’t hear the harp, even softly. As a matter of fact, we have purchased two Lyon and Healy Electric Pedal Harps, which is most modern harp available. We purchased two because most of our clients (90 %) prefer the sound of the Electric Harp and just in case it needs to go to Chicago for a few months for a repair, we have a back up harp here in Toronto. The Electric Harp works much better with sound systems than the Acoustic Harp using pic ups or microphones. For more on this, please check out the Electric Harp. Joanna has been working with sound systems since 1983.
- Funny answers: Specifically what do you provide to insure that the volume of music is appropriate for the space and the people (neither too loud nor too quiet)? I give all guests adjustable hearing aids. What qualifications do you have in working with sound equipment? I’ve owned a stereo for many years
BREAKS: Do you take breaks? How long are your breaks? What happens when you take your breaks?
- Our answers: Yes, we take short breaks each hour and provide pre-recorded music when we break
- Funny answers: Do you take breaks? No, but I’ve been known to lift a few hub caps. How long are your breaks? If you see me playing again, not long enough What happens when you take your breaks? All heck breaks loose.
EATING/DRINKING ON THE JOB: Do you or any of the musicians drink alcohol at the job? Do you or any of the musicians help themselves to the food without being invited? Do you require for me to provide a meal?
- Our answers: No we do not drink alcohol at the job, we do not help ourselves. For engagements that exceed three hours, we require a vendor meal for each musician, DJ or Joanna’s assistant
- Funny answers: Do you or any of the musicians drink alcohol at the job? No, we take care of that before we arrive. Do you require for me to provide a meal? Your guests would appreciate a meal.
WHO KNOWS OF YOU OR WOULD RECOMMEND YOU?
- Our answers: Electric Harpist Joanna Jordan is a preferred supplier and/or is recommended by several Toronto event venues including Archeo and the Arta Gallery at the Distillery District, MacLean House and the Vaughn Estates of The Estates of Sunnybrook, Hockley Valley Resort, The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel, The Four Seasons Hotel, The Park Hyatt, The Sheraton Centre, The Westin Prince Hotel, The Gardiner Museum, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Art Gallery of Onatrio, The Grand Metropolitan of Mississauga, The Eglinton Grand, Cas Loma, The Milcroft Inn and The Ritz Carlton
- Funny answers: Well I haven’t checked the washroom stall lately.
RELIABILITY: Have you ever cancelled a job or sent someone else to do a job for you? Why did you cancel or send someone else? What work do you do to prepare for the job, besides taking down the basic information? Have you ever been late for a job? (If yes, how often has that happened?) Have you ever double-booked a job, arrived at the wrong place or has there ever been a misunderstanding on how you were supposed to dress, or the time you were to set up or start performing? How do you prepare for the job? (what research do you do ahead of time)
- Our answers: We have never been late, never arrived at the wrong place, never gotten lost, never double booked, never cancelled a job or sent someone else to do our job, ever! We spend lots of time researching where we are going if we have never been there and leave at least two hours in between each performance, even if they are close together in Toronto. In the past few years, traffic has gotten so bad in Toronto, we leave lots of extra time, which means we can not book our jobs too close together. As well we have such a large repertoire, so after we interview our clients, we set up our music to reflect the styles that best suit each individual gig.
- Funny answers: Have you ever cancelled a job or sent someone else to do a job for you? Do I look like Tony Soprano? Have you ever been late for a job? No, I was even on time for my own wedding. (If yes, how often has that happened?) I’ve only been married once. Have you ever double-booked a job, arrived at the wrong place or has there ever been a misunderstanding on how you were supposed to dress, or the time you were to set up or start performing? See answer for drinking on the job. How do you prepare for the job? I get a good night’s sleep.(what research do you do ahead of time) I review all FBI and CIA files of the client.
ARRIVAL & SET-UP: How far in advance do you arrive for the job to set up? Are you ready a bit early in case the guests arrive early? Do you need any assistance in moving the harp or other equipment if there are no stairs? If the room is dark, do you provide your own lighting?
- Our answers: We arrive to set up an hour prior to the start of our performance time. We are ready a bit early (usually at least 15 minutes) and can provide music on the Ipod as the early guests arrive. I might need assistance with stairs, if my husband can not be there to help me. I provide a light for my music stand.
- Funny answers: How far in advance do you arrive for the job to set up? We try to be as close to the venue as possible, Are you ready a bit early in case the guests arrive early? If you don’t mind me playing without nylons and makeup. If the room is dark, do you provide your own lighting? If I provide the lighting then the room wouldn’t be dark.
WHAT STYLES OF MUSIC/MOODS CAN YOU CREATE? What type of music can you play? What qualifications do you have to play those styles of music? How often do you update your repertoire? How much do you invest in your arrangements? How much repertoire do you have? How long does it take to switch from one selection to the next? (How do you organize your music?) If the music seems a bit dull or boring, what can you do to liven things up? What other types of musicians do you perform with?
- Our answers: For styles of music, we have Classical, Smooth Jazz, Rock, Pop, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Latin, Celtic, Asian, Jewish, Christian, Country and just about anything come to think of it. Joanna Jordan has a Bachelor of Performance in Classical Music, University of Toronto, a Jazz Degree from Humber College and has been playing Rock, World Music and Contemporary Pop for about twenty years. We spend about $2,000 each year on our music and arrrangements. We have about 3,000 or more tunes in our repertoire and are always adding more each week. We organize our music to suit each job so that we can switch quickly from song to song. Please check out all the different groups of musical instrument combinations we can offer you. If the music seems a bit too mellow (or boring to some), we can liven things up with some very upbeat selections, please check out our sound samples.
- Funny answers: What type of music can you play? Preferably the kind with notes that make sounds. What qualifications do you have to play those styles of music? If I can play them, I’m qualified. How much do you invest in your arrangements? Are we talking before or after the job? If the music seems a bit dull or boring, what can you do to liven things up? Stop playing and take my clothes off. What other types of musicians do you perform with? Ones who can play music.
APPEARANCE: What will you and the other musicians wear?
- Our answer: We always ask you for a preference. Usually to match, we wear Black
- Funny answers: What will you and the other musicians wear? Clothes, but if it’s a pool party, bathing suits.
CONSULTING: Can I meet with you to discuss the details? Where do you meet clients? Is there an extra charge for meetings? Are you willing to meet with me outside of your home? Is there a charge for that? Are you willing to come to a meeting at the venue? If there is a charge for that, what is the cost? Do you perform at the Dress Rehearsal? If there is a charge for that, what is the cost?
- Our answers: Included in our prices, we offer meetings at Joanna’s place, on the phone or by email. We have two meetings, one to sign the contract and then anothe where we offer 30 minutes of consulting at no charge. The additional rate for consulting after that is $75/half hour
- Funny answers: Where do you meet clients? Back alleys no, but truck stops, you pay for the fries.
CHARGES: In addition to your performance fee, are there any other costs involved in hiring you?
- Our answers: We charge the 13 % HST tax and sometimes for parking if it is over $15.00 to park at a venue.
- Funny answers: You’ll have to ask the Police
OUTDOOR PERFORMANCES: Can you play outdoors? What will you do if it rains? What will you do if it is too cold?
- Our answers: We can play outdoors, we find the Celtic Harp a bit more flexible to work with. If it rains, we can not stay outdoors and need to put the harp and equipment into a dry place. If it is cold, we can provide a small heater if there is electricity, if there is no electricity, or if it is really cold, we can not play outdoors.
- Funny answers: Can you play outdoors? If my mommy lets me. What will you do if it rains? Melt and Dissolve What will you do if it is too cold? Freeze.