event music, Phoenix Wedding and Event Music

FAQs about hiring live musicians for a Phoenix event or wedding, part 2

Unless you host a lot of parties and special events, you may have a lot of questions about hiring musicians for your anniversary party, fund raising event, holiday party, life celebration or other special event. Below we answer some of the most common questions we get from clients looking to book us for a special event they’re hosting.live music for Phoenix events and holiday parties

  1. How do I reserve my event date with you? In order for us to reserve your event date, we will need to collect your deposit and get a signed booking agreement from you. For the booking agreement, we generally need the following, although some may be left blank if they haven’t been confirmed yet; client’s name, address, email address, phone, date of event or wedding, beginning and ending time of the event, address and location of the event (such as garden, ceremony room, lounge, banquet hall, etc.), type of music (classical, Celtic, world, Spanish, Disney, Broadway songs, movie music, traditional wedding music, jazz, folk, standard songs, a variety, etc.) and any special musical requests (say, a song to walk down the aisle to for your wedding ceremony, or special featured song to be played at a certain time during the event.)
  2. Do I need to sign a contract? Yes. As described above, we will provide you with a booking agreement that you will need to sign in order to reserve your event or wedding date. The contract outlines what music we will provide, when we will play, where we will play, what will happen if you need to cancel or change the date of your event, what kind of sound equipment (PA system) we will provide, the weather provisions, if your event is planned for outdoors, etc.
  3. When is the payment for my music due? A deposit is due in order to for us to reserve your event or wedding date for you. Your balance will be due one to two weeks before your event. We will send you invoices for your payments due and receipts when your payments have been made.
  4. How can we pay? Most of our clients pay by personal check, but arrangements can be made for you to pay by credit card or to make a series of payments, if that’s easier for you.
  5. How far in advance should we book you for our music? For best availability, we suggest you contact us at least 6 months in advance. For holiday or Christmas music, we suggest you book starting at least in June. We may have some availability later in the year for holiday parties, but dates and times will be limited. During the holidays and busier seasons, we may double book dates for weddings and events on the same days if there is ample time for travel between them.
  6. Can we use your amplification system for announcements? Yes. Depending upon the set-up of your event, you may be able to use our amplification system to speak to your guests or for officiants and couples to be heard during a wedding ceremony. You may also request to rent a separate wireless microphone from us for such purposes. We’ve been to enough weddings where the guests can’t hear the officiant or vows, so we’d be happy to discuss your options.

We hope this list of FAQs helps to answer your questions, but please do contact us by phone, text or email with your additional questions on your wedding, special event or holiday music.

Phoenix Wedding and Event Music

4 Main Considerations for Choosing the Music for Your Cocktail Hour

While we get a lot of requests to play music for couples’ cocktail hours, many are unsure of what type of music they’d like to have. If you choose carefully, you can ensure that the music will be welcoming for your guests and set the right tone for your celebration.

SoSco performs flute & guitar music at Phoenix Bridal Show
SoSco performs flute & guitar music at Phoenix Bridal Show

When choosing your cocktail hour music, we suggest that you begin by considering the following:

  1. Mood you are trying to create. If you are having a modern wedding, then perhaps some jazz, modern ballads with classic nostalgic instrumentation like guitars, flutes, percussion, bass or keyboards could work very well. If you’re having a formal, traditional cocktail hour, songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and classic love songs played on guitars, flutes, saxophones or strings would set an elegant mood. For a more fun, casual mood, a steel drum band may be the right fit. Just be sure that you request that the volume is kept at a level where guests can still comfortably mix and converse.
  2. Your venue. Where you’re holding your cocktail hour may also play into your decision about what type of music to have. If your cocktail hour is held outdoors, consider the availability of power for instruments that may require amplification (guitars, strings). The larger the venue and guest list, the larger the ensemble you can use. For a smaller venue, you can use a more intimate ensemble like a solo, duo or trio.
  3. Whether you are using live or recorded music. If you’re going for a more upscale wedding, having live musicians will be appropriate and expected. Also, if you’re having a smaller affair but want to give it a more classy feel, hiring live musicians can make all the difference. You can always have your DJ play recorded music for your happy hour, but it will end up coming across as less personalized and less memorable.
  4. Your theme. If you and your wedding planner have come up with a theme for your wedding, be it beach, vintage, rustic, beach, country, garden, nautical or any other, having the right music at your cocktail hour help reinforce this theme. While you may have ideas of what music you might like, take the time to speak with your potential musicians to see what ideas they may have for playing music to help support your theme; they may have some ideas and specialties that you had never considered!

No matter what the mood, your venue, live or recorded or the theme you’re trying to create, we believe the key to creating the perfect soundtrack for cocktail hour is choosing uplifting songs with a relaxed vibe. The cocktail hours should be a time to play the songs that you love but are not suited for dancing.

4 Main Considerations for Choosing Cocktail Hour Music by SoSco Flute & Guitar Duo of Phoenix
4 Main Considerations for Choosing Cocktail Hour Music

We recommend the beautiful music from legendary crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Classics like “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Unforgettable” and “Can’t Stop Falling in Love with You” never go out of style. You can also add some love song favorites from the ’50s and ’60s that are timeless and romantic.

Whatever you have in mind, we suggest you work with your live musicians to select the perfect set list as the background to make your cocktail hour memorable and special.

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Phoenix Wedding and Event Music, wedding music

Live music at your Phoenix wedding cocktail hour? 7 questions to help you decide

Among the many decisions couples have to make when planning their weddings is

whether or not to have live music at

Live musicians at wedding at WigWam Resort, Litchfield Park, AZ
Live musicians at wedding at WigWam Resort, Litchfield Park, AZ

their cocktail hour. Here are seven questions for you to answer to help you decide if you should hire living musicians for your cocktail hour or not.

  1. Do you want to set a special ambiance for your cocktail hour (celebratory, intimate, romantic, elegant, fun, etc.)? If you’re looking to have a more high-end feel to your wedding, live music is one of those touches that can’t replicated with a DJ just playing recordings. Live musicians will bring a more personalized, intimate feel to the cocktail hour by playing soft background music that sets the mood for the hour.
  2. Do your guests all pretty much know each other? If you have guests at the cocktail hour who don’t know each other, it can sometimes feel like a long time between the ceremony and dinner for guests who don’t know others there. Having live musicians creates a relaxing, pleasant focal point for guests to enjoy while waiting for you to return from taking pictures.
  3. Do your guests get to hear live musicians often? Many people rarely get the opportunity to watch and listen to live, professional musicians in anything other than a large concert setting. They may hear hobbiests perform in the local coffee shop, but this is a very different experience from hearing professional musicians, so consider if you would like to treat your guests to the special, memorable experience of professional live music when they attend your wedding.

    live music or just a DJ at your wedding
    How to decide if you should have live music or just a DJ at your wedding
  4. How will you keep your guests entertained for all of the wedding festivities? Between the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and reception, the whole event can be a long day for your guests. For this reason, it’s important to plan a variety of ways to entertain them. While your ceremony may be with traditional wedding music, your cocktail hour could reflect this style or have more lively, jazzy music. Then the evening can get more energetic until it progresses to dancing to a DJ’s tunes.
  5. Is your cocktail hour in the same location as your dinner and reception? If your cocktail hour is not in the same location as your dinner and reception, it may be difficult for your DJ to set up in multiple locations and it may cause a delay. If you have live musicians play for your cocktail hour, they can quickly move from the ceremony location to the cocktail hour location. This allows your DJ to set up and do sound checks in one location without having to set up twice.
  6. Can you budget for live music for my cocktail hour? You may be surprised to learn that if you are already hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony, it is often quite reasonable in price to keep them on for the cocktail hour as well. Many musicians have a higher fee for the first hour and then reduced fees for subsequent hours. You can save money by asking about pricing for one ensemble for several hours rather than hiring different ensembles for each part of your wedding.
  7. What are your priorities? The decision to have live music or not really boils down to what your priorities are. If you are on a tight budget and would rather spend your money on more booze, hiring live musicians for your cocktail hour doesn’t make sense. But, if music is important to you and you believe it will help create the romantic, elegant ambiance you’re looking for at your wedding, then there is no substitute for booking live musicians.
event music, styles, wedding music

Celtic Music: Beautiful Melodies For Weddings and Special Events in Phoenix

Celtic music is one of our most popular styles of music to perform for weddings,

Celtic music performed in Peoria, AZ for St. Patrick's Day
“Patrick” the leprechaun prepares to read his limerick as SoSco performs Celtic music
Celtic music performed in Peoria, AZ
SoSco poses with “Patrick” the leprechaun before they play Celtic music for St. Patrick’s Day
Celtic music in Phoenix
Guests of a senior community in Peoria, AZ enjoy SoSco’s Celtic music for their St. Patrick’s Day party

private parties, cocktail hours, corporate events and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day parties.

“Celtic” music has many definitions including:

  • Irish and Scottish folk melodies
  • Traditional fiddle tunes
  • Irish jigs, hornpipes and reels
  • Highland bagpipes
  • The more commercial genre with New Age influences featuring flutes, harps, and high voices

SoSco Duo plays a variety of Celtic music, but the majority is arrangements of Irish, Scottish and Isle of Man (now a British crown dependency) tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries. These include airs, jigs and slip jigs, carols, songs, marches arranged for flute and guitar, many with variations composed by the arrangers.

Some of the more popular Celtic pieces we perform include:

  • Eleanor Plunkett by Turlough O’Carolan, a composer from the 17th century who, although blind, was a harpist, composer and singer who became famous for his keen ability to write beautiful melodies
  • Down in Yon Banke from The Skene Manuscript of Scottish tunes from 1610 – 1620
  • MacPherson’s Lament by James MacPherson who played it just before his execution at Banff, Aberdeenshire (Scotland) in 1700
  • Blackbird Will You Go, a song about a young man who asks the blackbird to go to his true love
  • Down by the Salley Gardens, a lovely tune by Hubert Hughes who set the music to Butler Yeats’ poem
  • The Parting Glass, a Scottish tune to be played when it’s time to go

In addition to this type of Celtic music, we can play more traditional-sounding Celtic tunes including Annie Laurie, Molly Malone, The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Star of the County Down (My Love Nell) and Danny Boy.

Many of these melodies can be made to sound more or less “Celtic” by the way the flute ornaments the melody and the guitar voices the chordal accompaniments, so we play this music how it’s best suited for the situation. We play more traditionally for weddings and parties with Celtic themes and play less traditionally, emphasizing melody line, for events that just require beautiful music of no specific style.

We invite you to listen to some of our Celtic demos to get an idea of our sound. We believe you’ll find that the flute and guitar pair together beautifully in this style.

Phoenix Wedding and Event Music

Checklist for Hiring Musicians in Phoenix (part 2)

Once you’ve considered the ensemble type and size as well as researched the

live musicians for Phoenix and Scottsdale events
SoSco performs wedding music at the First Christian Church in Scottsdale, AZ

musicians, it’s time to take the next steps in hiring musicians. Next, you should consider the following:

WHEN contacting musicians (Contact your favorite musicians as soon as possible, as they often book up to a year in advance.)

□ Discuss style for each section of music requests (for a wedding, consider the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, etc.)

  • Describe the musical style that you feel complements you and your style.
  • If you’re not sure, consult the musicians. Describe your vision for your event and ask what music they would suggest including what specific songs and music they have in their repertoire. You can often make special request for specific songs or music you’d like to hear, although there may be an additional a fee to arrange special requests.

□ Describe location. Musicians will need to know where you are having your event including:

  • indoor or outdoor
  • size of space
  • climate controlled or not
  • bright or dark lighting
  • hard or soft surfaces
  • sound system and power availability
  • number of guests

Find out where the musicians are based and if they have played at your venue before.

□ Cost. Just like you’re probably not buying the cheapest dress on the market and not ordering fast food for your guests, you will probably not end up pleased if you hire the musicians based on price alone. When you hire the least expensive musicians, you are risking getting

  • poor preparation
  • lack of communication
  • limited skill
  • questionable reliability

As with anything else, you will likely get what you pay for when hiring live musicians. When you receive quotes for musicians, you will either be quoted a flat fee or an hourly rate. The fee may also include costs for travel, set up, overtime, etc.

□  Contract: Once you’ve selected your musicians, we suggest your contract include

  • Contact information for the musicians and/or manager. Include the names of all musicians and which instruments they will be playing. If you are hiring through an agency, this will help ensure that you get the musicians you request, not a sub with less experience.
  • The exact time and location including the time you expect the musicians to arrive.
  • A list of the equipment that you will supply and that the musicians will supply.
  • Dress requirements.
  • Performance details including the length of the performance, the number and length of breaks, and what will occur during the breaks (recorded music? no music?)
  • A play list and perhaps a do-not-play list. Include any details about special songs that you want played as well as the fees associated.
  • Fees and payment procedures including: the total cost, accounting of additional costs, due dates for deposit and balance, and refund and cancellation policies.

It might take a little more planning, but working with live musicians for your special event allows you to personalize the occasion far more than just having a DJ or CD play the same songs you can hear on the radio. We hope this checklist helps you find the perfect musicians to create an unforgettable soundtrack for your special event or wedding.