Scroll down the list of questions--you may find the answer to a question of your own! If you have a question not addressed here, please ask!
Q: Does your group have experience?
A: We have been playing together for over fifteen years. We have literally played hundreds of weddings, receptions, and other events. Consequently, we have become very good at what we do!
Q: Of what does a 'typical' ceremony consist?
A: Typically, a wedding ceremony finds us arriving early (before your first guests) to set up, and then playing prelude music so that your guests arrive to the sound of music filling the air. We then play the processional for the bridal party and the bride. Very often we play a selection during the ceremony--either for the lighting of the Unity Candle, or for a special interlude. We then play the recessional, and finish with music for your guests to exit by. We expect a wedding ceremony to last from 1 to 1 ½ hours, including the prelude, ceremony, and postlude. If a wedding ceremony has a long dismissal planned at the end (where the bride and groom dismiss the pews themselves and use that as the receiving line), this stretches the time of the event and may result in either our playing a shorter prelude or in charging slightly more if it becomes more than a 1 ½ hour engagement. Additionally, for purposes of definition: A ceremony consists of the time spent playing in one location. Once the ceremony has ended, and we are asked to move to another location, our hourly rates go into effect. Finally, a typical wedding does not include playing with a vocalist. There will be additional charges for playing with a vocalist, as that will involve extra rehearsal, coordination, and most likely music arrangement. These will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
Q: What is a string quartet, exactly?
A: A string quartet is a group of four stringed instruments: two violins, one viola, and one cello. When we use a trio, we either eliminate the viola or one of the violins.
Q: What is the difference between the duo, the trio, and the quartet?
A: This is a question that gets asked a lot! The best way to explain it is to ask you to think of listening to a song being sung. If just one person sings, that person sings the melody. That is like what the first violin does in our group, the melody. At ball games, someone sometimes sings The Star-Spangled Banner alone, with no accompaniment. That is what melody sounds like by itself. It can be very nice, very effective, but it also sounds somehow 'lonely'. The next important function to add to the melody is the bass line, like what the cello does in our group. The bass line provides the structure to the melody in much the same way a foundation gives structure to a building. If you are hiring a duo, you will have melody in the upper instrument and bass line in the lower instrument. Larger groups like the trio and the quartet simply add what is known as 'counter-melody' for more thickness to the mix. The second violin plays a similar melody to the first violin, but on a slightly lower pitch. The viola completes the mixture and fills in all of the chords. I have created some midi files on the song "Here Comes The Bride" that will demonstrate this explanation. Click here to go to the midi demo.
Q: Who decides what music is played, and when?
A: The answer to this is that you can have as much or as little to do with the decision making process as you like. Some purchasers of our services tell us, "You are the experts, I trust in your talent and experience. Please make the musical decisions for me." Others wish to give us certain guidelines, such as telling us to include (or to be sure NOT to include!) certain songs at certain points and then leave the rest to us. Still others are very sure of exactly what they want, and tell us what they would like played and when.
Q: Are there mileage or travel expenses?
A: Yes, for jobs which require travel beyond our normal range.
Q: How far in advance should your services be engaged?
A: Musicians are a little different from other wedding and commercial services. Your wedding dress, your party caterer, or your hall often require bookings in advance of at least a year. Very often we musicians cannot safely assure you of our services more than a year in advance. We are often contracted members of a Symphony whose rehearsal schedule is announced for the upcoming season in the late spring. Therefore, we tend not to want to book too far in advance to protect our integrity. Another thing to realize is that we are capable of playing at a moment's notice. We have been called in as last minute replacements when another group became unable to fulfill its commitment. So, with us it is sometimes too early but never too late to book our services! Stringsound Ensembles currently has bookings going into the fall of 2010 -- but this is not to say we are all booked up! Please call to reserve your date! (219) 884-0612
Q: Will you hold a date for someone?
A: When someone calls or e-mails with an inquiry about our services, the date is put on hold for them and is labelled 'under consideration'. The date will be held for two weeks. If the contract is not returned within the two weeks, that date will again be open for the consideration of others.
Q: What kind of music do you play?
A: We play classical music which can best be defined as 'light'. You will recognize much of our music whether or not you are well-versed in classical music. Our musical selections change slightly depending upon what type of event we are playing. For weddings, we play a number of elegant, beautiful pieces before the ceremony. After the ceremony, we play very joyous, bright, and fast pieces. At a reception we have a broad range of pieces we play--from Baroque to Beyond. We can include some variety with tangos, rag times, and arrangements from musicals, if desired. But do realize that we are classical musicians! It is our presumption that we were hired because of an appreciation for our music, and we do not veer into other musical areas which are better handled by others.
You can view the lists of our repertoire by visiting our Music List Page.
You can get an idea, via computerized music, of our selections by listening to our Midi Sound Bytes
Q: Do you play dance music?
A: The answer to that question is that we do not. On occasion we have been asked to play a ceremonial waltz for a bride and groom before the dance band or DJ arrived for the dancing. That, we can do, but we are not a dance band.
Q: Does the group attend the wedding rehearsal?
A: A wedding rehearsal involves assembling a group of people and organizing the way they make their entrances, the way they stand, and the way they make their exits. Because of our extensive experience with wedding ceremonies, we do not need to attend the wedding rehearsal. With the answers to some well-placed questions, we gain all of the information we need in order to successfully plan our timing. There are times when a bride or an officiant would feel better if a representative of the group would attend the rehearsal. Certainly that can be arranged, and there would be an additional fee for the rehearsal.
Q: What do the musicians wear?
A: Musicians wear black, traditionally, so as not to draw attention away from the music itself. We follow that tradition, with the occasional addition of white accents. In the summer, we wear black and white in order to keep ourselves a little more comfortable. We are always dressed in a professional manner.
Q: How well do the instruments carry? Do you use amplified sound?
A: The answer to this question involves different variables. For a wedding ceremony, the 'carrying power' of the string instruments is not called into question at all. We need no amplification even in the largest of ceremonies.
At receptions, there is more competition for us. People are conversing freely, which creates a low level of sound over which we need to try to project. If the room is large, carpeted, and if the number of guests is approaching 300, then honestly we cannot project over the crowd. We become an "oasis" of sound that those closest to us hear perfectly and those furthest away hear faintly. An event like this works best if we are positioned near the entrance or near the hors d'oeuvre table--in other words, if we are positioned near a place where everyone has a reason to go. The quartet is the recommended size group for a reception, and at smaller receptions we have good projection.
We do not amplify our sound, as that is not how our instruments were meant to be played.
Q: Is a deposit required?
A: Yes, a small deposit is required with the return of the contract. The balance is due on or before the date of services. Some people prefer to mail the check ahead of time so as not to worry about having to remember it on the date of services, while others give it to us at the event. Whatever is most convenient for you is fine with us. We just don't like to have to 'hunt down' our check once we have finished playing. We ask that that detail be cared for when we first arrive, or at least at some point before we are finished playing.
Q: Should dinners be provided for the musicians?
A: We are always touched at the consideration of someone who asks us that question, but the answer is, "No, thank you!" We are not your guests, so do not concern yourself with entertaining us.
However, if it is an engagement which spans through two meals, and we have no opportunity to leave and refresh ourselves, then it would be quite considerate to make provision for us.
Finally, if the event is a buffet and you have mentioned ahead of time that we should feel welcome to partake, then we will do so on one of our breaks.
Q: Will you play for our vocalist?
A: We can play with your vocalist, however, there are several important things you must know. First, the fee for the wedding will have to be amended, because our playing for a vocalist will require a special musical arrangement to be made, and will also require rehearsal time between us and the vocalist. Every situation is different, so this issue is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Frankly, your price is more than I had anticipated....?
A: Anyone who has attended an event where amateur, sub-standard, or even student musicians were hired (because the price was 'right') can tell you it really is true--you do get what you pay for. There is no substitute for the years of experience and the high level of performance expertise our musicians provide. We have worked long and hard to get where we are today, sacrificing long hours to practicing and schooling in order to become very good at what we do.
Anyone can play a CD...fewer people can play an instrument, and fewer still play well. When you hire us, you are getting something unique and special. Music is too important an aspect of your event to be trusted to just anyone--leave it to talented professionals to make it just right!
Stringsound Ensembles are led by Pat White. | (219) 884-0612 | email@example.com