Considerations for selecting wedding music

This should help you in your decision on selecting your wedding music:
  • is the ceremony indoors or outdoors ( acoustics will differ)
  • the month of your wedding: there are a lot of “seasonal” music 
  • number of musicians that are playing for your wedding: repertoire will differ
  • any additional musicians for the ceremony such as singers
  • the length of the wedding ceremony: longer pieces might have to be cut short
  • is the ceremony traditional or contemporary
  • how big is the bridal party: length of the piece for the processional music will differ
  • what kind of music do you like: classical, pop, sacred, country, hymnal
  • limitations (if any) on music if your wedding is taking place in the church
  • any music that has to be arranged in advance: we usually ask for a four week notice

How to choose music for a wedding?

The first thing to consider is the number of musicians involved. Are you hiring a string quartet, a string trio, or a duo..? Usually larger group gives you more extensive music choices.  Next step is to set up the wedding program, and what you will have in it. Things like processional, unity candle, communion, readings and more. Once you have that set, then it’s time to insert music between or during those parts.  More often then not I end up suggesting different pieces to be played, making sure they are appropriate for the ceremony.  If needed, I meet with brides to discuss the music, making sure that we don’t only follow my suggestions, but a bride likes what we have chosen. I think that is the most involved part for me – working with brides on their music selections (and then playing them!). I have had several people who in the past have requested music that was not their best choices, and I am not afraid to point that out. However, the final decision is with the bride. I will give as much input as wanted… 

Musicians for weddings

There is a difference between hiring musicians for a wedding and for an event other than a wedding. Mostly it has to do with repertoire:  a lot of wedding music should be played by at least three musicians to make it sound decent. I have played at weddings with a duo, usually violin and viola, but personally – it is something I would have never done at my own wedding.  Imagine playing a piece such as the famous Pachelbel Canon with only two musicians! It sounds “empty” and unfinished. However, if you have a small business gathering and looking for a light background music without any flare – two musicians would be just fine. 

Professional musicians or amateurs?

Prior to having my own business, I have played with some musicians whose competency on their instrument has a lot of room for improvement, to say the least. Make sure you know what you are hiring: professional, or someone who “does weddings on the side” as a hobby,or a college musician.  I can only speak from a personal experience. Several years ago, I was asked to play with a string quartet for a wedding just outside of Pittsburgh, in Latrobe.  The cellist and the second violinist were still college students at the time, whereas myself and a first violin player have been playing for a lot longer. The cellist and the second violinist were half an hour late for the wedding ceremony, both had their own cars, and both had pretty unsatisfying excuses.  Thanks to them – I started my own business, vowing that I would hire only the most professional, reliable musicians in Pittsburgh, musicians that I have known and played with for a long time and trust to do the job right. All of our players are usually at the site of the wedding/event at least half an hour before hand, just to set up and be ready… The Latrobe story is by no means a reflection on all college musicians, but it IS an example where experience and maturity play a role. Since then I was involved in a couple of more jobs with the same people and the same thing happen. I am proud to say – it is never the case with our musicians. Bottom line -never be afraid to do a thorough check on musicians that you hire for your needs, especially if it is a wedding. 

Will the musicians play well?

Here is another concern that surfaces sometimes, especially from brides: “how do I know if musicians that I hire for my wedding will play well if  I’ve never heard them before?”. 
I’ll be honest here: you don’t know that. In the case with myself and our musicians – you have 100% guarantee of our skill level and the quality of our performance, which is why I do my best with informing people about who we are. Our professional biographies are on the web site, so is the demo CD. We all have been playing our respective instruments since ages five and six, engaging in professional performances in our teens.  I also started taking photos of people’s “thank you” cards and testimonials, putting them up on the site – that way it is clear how someone felt about our musicians, especially brides.  It is scary to get a group for a one time event and not know how it will turn out. I guess the same can be said about the wedding cake – you won’t know how it tastes until you bite into it! 

Practicing for younger students

Category: On teaching
Playing a string instrument IS a highly intricate skill, requiring a lot of time, patience and consistency. I believe that regardless of age, a student has to put at the minimum half an hour a day of practicing time. Understand that that half an hour will cover the basic skills needed to maneuver around the instrument. The half an hour guideline is BARE minimum! Most of my students are NOT future professional musicians, and yet – that is what I ask of them. Kids ages 4-9 should still put in half an hour a day, possibly splitting it up in three ten-minute sessions: one before breakfast, one right after school, and one before or after dinner. The consistency is imperative, even in short sessions, very similar to dog training! ( you  are more than welcome to meet Schubert, my well-trained, and yet nutty chocolate labrador retriever!) Again – every day, even it is a short session is better than missing three, four days and then doing one day of practicing for two hours. 

How many musicians should I hire?

That seems to be the first question that my clients ask me. First of all, consider your budget, which is why we ask that you call us to give you an exact price for your event. It will vary greatly depending on the distance the musicians have to travel, how long you would want them to play, and other factors. Second, how many guests will be attending your event? Usually, the more people are at your gathering – the more musicians should be there, so they can be heard. Also, the location:small banquet rooms, hotels, churches, auditoriums. Acoustics play a big roll in how a string quartet, trio or a duo will sound. Another factor – your music selections for the group.