• How To Choose A Band For Your Event And What to Consider

  • Hiring live music for your event can be a bit intimidating in deciding what exactly you need and how to go about it.
    Where do I start? What kind of band or combination of musicians do I need to better suit my event and to fit my budget? What will work best for my guests and the type of event I’m holding?

    No worries! You are not alone! Many people face the same questions. And who could be to better get as advice from the actual musicians that are in the business and who know the industry better than anybody because they make their living playing for all kinds of events you can think of!
    Before you start your research for musicians these are some of the important things you need to take in consideration:

    • what type of event you are holding?
    • how many people you are expecting and how big is the room where the event takes place?
    • what is your budget?
    • how many hours is my event and how many hours do I need to live music for?
    Cocktail reception

    If it is a cocktail reception where you expect your guests to mingle and socialize with each other you want to go with nice non-intrusive cocktail music.
    Depending on you budget and the size of the room your options could be:

    A cocktail (or jazz) pianist with no vocals

    Please note, by the ’jazz pianist’ we mean a cocktail pianist who is experienced enough to know and to play many pleasant background easy listening and recognizable tunes that include all kinds of genre and not a crazy jazz solos that would be expectable for the prepared audience in concert or club settings. A good experienced cocktail pianist would “read” the audience and chose the tunes accordingly. So make sure to specifically ask about it and make sure this is what you will be getting.

    • jazz pianist - upright bass player
    • pianist - guitar player
    • pianist - sax or trumpet player (please note - not all the trumpet players know how to play mellow and smooth. So make sure to ask about it if one of the options offered is a trumpet player)
    • depending on your musical preferences it could be a pianist and cello (think The Piano Guys). You can also go with the violin but violin would not sound as mellow and smooth as a cello and the music would have to be mostly classical
    • A horn player and a mellow jazz guitar may work too but it is not as flexible as for example piano and horn. But if this is you preferences you can go for it and providing you’re dealing with pro musicians you should be happy.
    Jazz trio no vocals.

    The combinations that work the best are:

    • piano, bass drums
    • keyboard player to play left hand bass with either sax or trumpet and drums or guitar. This way you get the sound of four instruments by hiring only three
    • piano, bass and sax or trumpet is another nice combo. Or could be guitar, bass and horn. Again, it depends on your preferences.

    Another thing to consider when hiring a musicians for for cocktail reception is how big is the room and how many guests will be there. If the room is not big and your expect a crowd around 50 or less guests definitely go with either a jazz pianist or the duo or trio without the drums so you get nice acoustic sound to classy complement your cocktail reception.

    Thought, you can still can go with just a piano player even for a large rooms and big amount of guests (for example 150 - 200 or more). But in this case you need to make sure your pianist is heard. So, either consider the possibility to mic the piano though the house PA system if available or ask the pianist to provide some kind of amplifier or small PA. Even if it is a keyboard being used it definitely helps to still patch it through the house system for the large rooms with many guests. In this case there is no need to make your pianist to turn the volume too much up on the keyboard amp making it too loud for people nearby the performer.

    String ensemble

    If you are looking for a more classical sound and think to hire a String Quartet or a String Trio or even String Duo you should be aware of two things:

    • string ensembles usually cost more
    • they normally require a shelter to be provided in case if your event is outdoors to protect the fragile and expensive string instruments from sun or rain. If you can not provide with the shelter they usually able to bring their own but will change you extra for it. Normally in a neighbourhood of another $150 or so.


    If you are thinking a harpist be also prepare a higher price and possible transportation charges for the harp.

    Is it an outdoor or indoor event?

    If it is an outdoor event are you able to provide the electrical power for the band and possible a roof in case of a rain. Is it warm enough for musicians to perform? If not, can you provide some electrical heaters?

    Dinner music

    Those types of bands or a piano player will be also able to provide you a nice classy background should you decide you need a music during the dinner.

    Party band

    After the dinner if you decide to have a dance party you should also go by first of all your preference of music and then by the average age of your guests.

    Your best bet would be to have a flexible party band that can play any style of music to accommodate all your guest tastes in music. Normally the band like that would cost more as it will require an upscale professional musicians.
    The cost would normally depend on the amount of musicians in the band, the hours and whether the event is in town or out of town.

    Once again the size of the room needs to be considered and the amount of your guests.

    It is also important to understand that the you will pay your musicians not for the amount of sets or songs they play but for the total time at the venue. For example, if you have a jazz trio for one hour reception and then ask them to take an hour break for the dinner speeches and then to play again for another two hours then the total time at the venue would be 4 hours.

    If you only hire a pianist or a band for one or two special songs during wedding ceremony or a birthday party for example the minimum charge still would be one hour per agreed hourly rate. 
    This is also stated in the Musicians Union tariff.

    One more last advise

    When hiring musicians and you know you like their music samples, the music they play and professionalism then just go for it! 
    If it’s seems to be a bit too much money to you that this is for reasons! The rule “you get what you paid for” applies very well to live musicians. If you think its a bit too expensive don’t keep shopping around and getting quotes because if you find someone who would do your event for much cheaper then it’s also for reasons! After all you hire a music not by the better quote like for a car for example. But by the quality!

    If it’s seem to be a little out of your budget don’t just turn around and look for someone cheaper. Instead, talk to the musicians you like again. Let them know about your budget and they will always be happy to be flexible to help you out to accommodate your budget better or offer different more economical options.

    In the worst scenario, if your budget is too limited to hire those musicians (it’s like you can not buy a Mercedes for one tenth of its price) still ask those musicians to recommend you someone who can do it for this amount of money as they would know the best who to recommend.

    And, if your budget is still very limited then think about maybe cutting down performance hours or getting a smaller combo. But, do not, never go for a deal with other musicians that seems to be too good to be true because it’s probably isn’t.

    It could be your wedding or retirement party, or another once-in-a-lifetime celebration and you want it to be special and memorable. And the music is a big part of your celebration that also will be remembered!

    Please contact Calgary jazz pianist Egor Ukoloff today at 403-618-3004 and he'd be happy to help you to book the best live music for your event. Expect nothing less than a world class musicians and performance!
    You can also refer to his musicians booking site www.BestCalgaryMusicians.com

    If you have anymore questions please comment below.
    And if you find this information helpful and useful please Like it and Share with others.



    Hi Egor, Just a quick shout out to compliment you on your great web site, career and master musicianship. ..... very cool playing I am a veteran/vintage bass guitarist of some 45 plus years experienced mostly in party dance band thing, Now retired, I am currently an enthused jazz fan and student for the past few years jammin with old friends. I love some of the old standards, but I am very versatile. btw... noticing you are in Woodbine, I am in Canyon Meadows T2W2A5 All the best.... congrats.... regards Gerry


    Hi Gerry, thanks for the comment! Feel free to reach me over the phone if you like.