FAQs


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Booking (2)

How early do we need to book musicians?

The sooner the better – some couples book us a year or more in advance.  Availability can get dicey on popular summer weekend dates especially.  We do have enough musicians to easily handle multiple bookings on a single day, but sometimes we run out of specific instruments.

If you’re cutting it close (less than 3 months in advance), then we may not be able to supply the exact instrumentation you’re after, so it’s a good idea to remain open to more than one option for your instrumental combination.

What are your payment options? Can I pay with a credit card?

At the moment, we accept cash, checks, and money orders, and for an additional 3% fee, we can create a PayPal invoice if you’d like to pay with a credit card via PayPal.

A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking, and the remainder is due one week before the event date.

Note: as of 6/21/2013, our booking and payment will be handled by Jen Bernard of The House of Cards Booking Collective. Please read carefully below:

If you booked your musicians BEFORE 6/21/2013, your payment will be handled by Susan Langenes and checks should be made payable to Susan Langenes (NOT Collage Music).

If you booked your musicians AFTER 6/21/2013, your payment will be handled by Jen Bernard of The House of Cards, and checks must be made payable to The House of Cards Music (NOT Collage Music).

Ceremony Music (6)

What is prelude, processional, recessional, postlude etc?

Prelude Think of it as “welcoming music.”  By no means bland, this is harmonious music with a calm, often pastoral air to it, designed to set a tone of relaxed composure, alleviate the stresses of traveling, and – added bonus! – it lets the guests know by ear where the ceremony will be located.  We usually start between 15 and 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Processional refers to the formal entrances of family and bridal party (and groomal party?).  The word also is used to refer to the pieces of music we’ll play during these entrances.  These special entrances include:

  1. Family: Parents, grandparents, and any other family or honored guests
  2. Attendants: Bridesmaids and groomsmen and any flower girls and/or ring bearers
  3. The Bride

We often play a piece for family, then change the music and play another piece for attendants, then a third for the bride’s entrance.  Many couples opt for a single piece for family and attendants, if the processional distance is short and/or there are fewer than three or four people in each group.

Recessional refers to the formal exit of the bridal party including bride and groom and the bridesmaids and groomsmen; it also refers to the piece of music we play for this exit.

Postlude is the music we play after the recessional, as the guests exit the ceremony area.

How many songs do I need to choose for the ceremony?

For the ceremony, usually at least 2, and sometimes as many as 10.  Usually 3-5.  Here’s a very typical breakdown for a non-Catholic ceremony:

  1. First processional/entrance of parents and family
  2. Second processional/entrance of attendants including ring bearers and/or flower girls
  3. Entrance of bride
  4. Ceremony interlude, e.g. unity candle, sand ceremony, special song
  5. Recessional (exit)

Some couples like to strip it down to the barest elements, like so:

  1. Entrance for everyone including bride
  2. Recessional (exit)

It could be anywhere in between for you.  And for a full-mass Catholic ceremony, it’ll be much more involved, like this:

  1. First processional/entrance of parents and family
  2. Second processional/entrance of attendants including ring bearers and/or flower girls
  3. Entrance of bride
  4. Responsorial Psalm
  5. Unity Candle
  6. Presentation of flowers to Mary
  7. Preparation of the Gifts
  8. Communion (this might take a while so it may be a good idea to choose 2-3 pieces)
  9. Recessional

And there may even be more – such as another candlelighting or remembrance or meditation… Your officiant will be of great use in determining the proper order of things, and figuring out where music can fit within the ceremony.

 

How will you know when to start the music for processional?

We’ll need a cue of some sort.  We always arrive at least 30 minutes before we are to start playing, in order to work out a cue with your coordinator and/or officiant.

Our very favorite and most elegant method of cueing is to have the officiant take his/her place at the front once the family, bridal party, and bride are all assembled and ready to walk.  Once we see him/her, then we’ll know to conclude prelude music and begin the first processional as the next piece.

How do you figure out the timing of processional songs?

We hear horror stories all the time about musicians not stopping when the bride arrives, creating an uncomfortable and awkward moment right at the beginning of the ceremony.

Please know that we will *never* do that.

This is the brilliant thing about experienced live musicians!  After ten years and hundreds of weddings we’ve developed a collective mind, and we can make any song sound like it was supposed to end *right there* – just as the bride arrives, for example.  We won’t leave you standing there waiting for the song to end.

We will, of course, ask you for a detailed outline of how many people are walking down the aisle to each piece of music and where they’ll be starting from, and we also benefit from a cue to begin the first processional.

Do you attend the rehearsal?

Because we rely on visual cues, watching while we’re playing,  it won’t make any difference to us whether we’re there at the rehearsal or not.   Because of inevitable scheduling challenges on Thursday and Friday evenings, we are not able to offer rehearsal attendance as a matter of course.

We are more than happy to discuss further over the phone and/or email, and in some rare cases where it’s absolutely critical, we may make an exception, for a fee.

Will you accompany my friend/sister/cousin/etc for a song?

Lots of folks ask if we can accompany a singer for a song during the ceremony,  so here’s our take on this potentially awesome and potentially perilous endeavor (made exponentially more perilous when it’s a singer who lives in another state, which somehow is always the case)…

First, the answer to the question is generally yes, we can totally accompany a singer of your choice.

What a singer needs from us is for us to make them sound good.

What we need from a singer (and possibly from our client) is a few tools to make that happen.

Here’s a list of the elements at play:

  • Amplification and Sound System — every singer deserves a good mic that they can easily use.  It’s extremely rare that a singer will be able to fill a room without a mic, especially if they’re singing a pop song that requires some subtlety.
  • Arrangement – it’s actually unusual to perform a song in its original entire version at a wedding ceremony.  Almost every time, we will end up making some adjustment to the length or form of the song.
  • Key – about half the time, we will end up changing the key of the song to something other than the original key.  Determining the appropriate key can be tricky if the singer isn’t sure.
  • Sheet Music — every time, without exception, we will have to make special sheet music for ourselves.  Even if you or your singer kindly provides us with a piano/vocal/guitar arrangement from musicnotes.com (and please do – it will save us some time), we will still need to adapt that arrangement to suit the particular ensemble that will play it, and the singer, and any adjustments we’ve made to the song form.
  • Rehearsal – Somehow, somewhere, we all have to learn the song.

Here’s the part where we cannot resist making mention of the fact that all the lessons we’ve learned about accompanying singers have been learned the hard way.  Hooray for experience!

And now is probably a good time to mention that, yes, of course, we do charge extra for all of this.  Not a zillion dollars, but enough to cover the time and cost of dealing with all of the above.

Here’s our fee breakdown:

1. We charge an extra $50 or $100 for the arrangement and the special sheet music even if you provide us with sheet music.  Because as I noted above, in 100% of cases we will have to take extra time to make customized sheet music for ourselves.  $50 if guitar is in your ensemble; $100 if you have no guitar.

2. We require that you book us for an extra 30 minutes to allocate time for rehearsal on the day of the wedding.  This 30 minutes needs to be immediately before our normal start time.  And of course we need the singer to be there for this time.  This time is not billed at our hourly rate; instead, we require a flat fee of $50 per musician for this rehearsal.

And, depending on the ensemble you have booked,

3. We may have to charge an additional $50 flat fee for providing sound for your singer.  This will depend entirely on your ensemble.  It may be wise to see if there are other resources, such as your DJ, who can provide sound for your singer.

So, if we would normally have a day-of timeline like this (this is a hypothetical one-hour ceremony booking for a ceremony happening at 4 pm):

  • 3:10 musicians arrive for set-up (we always arrive 30 minutes prior to start time and we don’t charge for this time)
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony start time
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

With a singer, we’d do it like this:

  • 2:40 musicians arrive for set-up
  • 3:10 singer meets musicians to rehearse song
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony starts and somewhere in here, we execute the song brilliantly with your awesome singer!
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

So what would have normally been a one-hour booking needs to be booked for 90 minutes.  Make sense? It’s just an extra half-hour right before prelude music.

Choosing Songs (4)

How many songs do I need to choose for the ceremony?

For the ceremony, usually at least 2, and sometimes as many as 10.  Usually 3-5.  Here’s a very typical breakdown for a non-Catholic ceremony:

  1. First processional/entrance of parents and family
  2. Second processional/entrance of attendants including ring bearers and/or flower girls
  3. Entrance of bride
  4. Ceremony interlude, e.g. unity candle, sand ceremony, special song
  5. Recessional (exit)

Some couples like to strip it down to the barest elements, like so:

  1. Entrance for everyone including bride
  2. Recessional (exit)

It could be anywhere in between for you.  And for a full-mass Catholic ceremony, it’ll be much more involved, like this:

  1. First processional/entrance of parents and family
  2. Second processional/entrance of attendants including ring bearers and/or flower girls
  3. Entrance of bride
  4. Responsorial Psalm
  5. Unity Candle
  6. Presentation of flowers to Mary
  7. Preparation of the Gifts
  8. Communion (this might take a while so it may be a good idea to choose 2-3 pieces)
  9. Recessional

And there may even be more – such as another candlelighting or remembrance or meditation… Your officiant will be of great use in determining the proper order of things, and figuring out where music can fit within the ceremony.

 

Do I need to choose songs for prelude/post-lude/cocktail hour, etc?

Normally, you choose the style of the incidental (background) music, and we’ll choose the individual songs.  If you have a few favorites, or even a few “do-not-plays” from our song list, you’re more than welcome to indicate those and we’ll honor your requests.

 

When do you need to know my song choices?

Generally, about 4-6 weeks before the wedding date.  While it’s certainly fine to plan more in advance than that, we’ve found that it’s actually easier to wait until after you’ve met with your officiant and planned out the order of the ceremony.  Once you know who is walking in and in what order, and whether you’ll need music during the ceremony, then we can construct the music program around that.

Can you play _______ (insert song name here)?

Yes, we can almost always accommodate any request.  For special requests for groups with a guitar as one of the instruments, the cost is $50.  For groups with no guitar, any special request is $100 per song.

Equipment and Set-Up (6)

Do you need a canopy outdoors?

We require full shade for our instruments; if shade from trees or buildings is inadequate, we’ll need you to provide some sort of canopy.  Also, our instruments cannot handle even the slightest precipitation, so it’s necessary to have a tent or canopy available if there’s a chance of rain.

How much space do you need?

Depends on how many of us there are, of course.  Here are general guidelines; exact dimensions will vary depending on the specific instruments:

4 musicians (a quartet) will need about 8′ x 8′.

3 musicians (a trio) will require about 8′ x 6′.

2 musicians (a duo) will require about 6′ x 4′.

A soloist will need about 4′ x 4′.

We will also have instrument cases and other items that are best stored out of sight, so a storeroom or other out-of-the way location for these things is advantageous.

Do you need a stage or platform?

Generally, no.  We need a level surface, since sitting at an angle can wreak havok on our backs and shoulders and tends to result in poor performances.  If we are to set up on a lawn that is dewy or has been watered recently, we may request an extra chair or two upon which to place some of our equipment to keep it dry.

Do I (or my DJ) need to provide a PA for you?

Normally, no.  All of our groups with guitar will bring unobtrusive amplification and take care of it themselves.  The only thing they’ll need is access to an electrical outlet within 25′ of their location.

String groups (without guitar) generally do not require amplification, except in certain rare instances where the space (or the crowd) is unusually large.  We are happy to work with your DJ or sound engineer, or, for a fee, we can bring our PA and amplify ourselves.  This must be determined at the time of booking!

Will you bring your own music stands? Chairs?

Music stands, yes.

Chairs, no.  We’ll need you to provide us with one armless chair per musician.  The chairs used for the ceremony are usually just perfect.

Can we use your microphone for toasts or for ceremony?

For toasts: Sure! Toast-makers are more than welcome to use our mic if we are playing during your reception.  We are happy to make announcements for you as well; you’ll need to provide us with a script or general idea and timeline.

For ceremony, we can bring a regular wired mic and mic stand, so if that’s all you need, great!  We will charge a $50 fee for bringing and setting up an extra amplifier or PA (we won’t be able to use the same one we’re using for ourselves).  Contact us to discuss.

 

Logistics and details (8)

When will the musicians arrive on the day?

We always arrive 30 minutes before we are contracted to start.  This allows us time to find your coordinator if you have one, and talk through the ceremony with your officiant, set up our instruments and music stands, and tune.

As a rule, we do not charge for this time; we charge from when we start playing to when we stop playing.  In very rare cases where we must arrive and set up more than 30 minutes before we are to start, we will charge a set-up fee.  This is extremely unusual though.

If we are accompanying a singer of your choosing, we arrive 30 minutes before we are scheduled to start rehearsing with your singer. Read more about accompanying singers here.

Do we need to meet with you in person?

An in-person meeting is generally not necessary.  With the vast majority of our clients, all the booking, organizing, planning, and music selection ends up happening via email or phone.  If you’re more comfortable working out details in person, then we can certainly accommodate.

What will the musicians wear?

Our customary attire is formal black for women and dark suits with ties for men.

If you’d like us to match, we can all dress in orchestra black (this means black slacks and black button up shirts and women in formal black).  Men can also wear tuxedos if your event is black-tie.  This has become increasingly rare in Portland, though, so please give us advance notice if this is required.

If your event would be better served by Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, we’ll certainly do what we can. We are always more than happy to work with you on matters of fashion and style.

Do you attend the rehearsal?

Because we rely on visual cues, watching while we’re playing,  it won’t make any difference to us whether we’re there at the rehearsal or not.   Because of inevitable scheduling challenges on Thursday and Friday evenings, we are not able to offer rehearsal attendance as a matter of course.

We are more than happy to discuss further over the phone and/or email, and in some rare cases where it’s absolutely critical, we may make an exception, for a fee.

Will you play outdoors?

Absolutely!  As long as our instruments are out of the elements.  The rule of thumb is you gotta treat ‘em like they’re made of sugar.  No precipitation and no direct sun.

The client bears responsibility for providing adequate shelter from rain and sun.  This is extremely important and must be addressed in advance.  Our instruments are our livelihood, and they stay in their cases unless adequate shelter is provided for them.

Extremes in temperature, the presence of insects, and strong winds are additional concerns for us when performing outdoors.  For the most part, these adversities are manageable, but they’ll cause our transitions between songs to take longer, and/or we’ll need to tune our instruments more often.  If it’s colder than about 65 degrees, we may have to play slower because our fingers don’t work as well.

The main thing is that when performing outdoors, it’s simply more difficult to produce a performance that is up to par with our professional standards.  We will always do our best, and we hope you can understand and bear with us as we valiantly battle the elements.  It’s worth it.

Will you relocate after the ceremony for cocktail hour?

More often than not, it will be necessary for us to pack up and move after the ceremony to another location for the cocktail hour, and possibly even a second time for the remainder of the reception.

We’re accustomed to relocating ourselves and we do not charge an extra fee for this.  Please understand that the more equipment we have, the longer it will take us to move, so to maximize playing time and minimize equipment hauling time, it’s best to keep it to only one reset.

If we do need to move, you can help us expedite the process immensely by having chairs set up for us already in the new location.

When do you take breaks? Can you play an iPod during breaks?

Typically, we require one 10-minute break after each hour of playing.

  • If we are playing for ceremony only, we require no break.
  • If we are playing for ceremony and cocktail hour, we require no break but we may need to relocate, which can take a while if we have to make multiple trips and negotiate around crowds.
  • If we are playing live music for your reception, we can coordinate breaks to coincide with toasts and/or other events to achieve a smooth flow of events; this may mean we play a longer or shorter set.

We are flexible about breaks but we also want to ensure that we are able to perform at our best at all times, and in order to do so, we do need to rest our ears, fingers, and minds.  Music performance is athletically and mentally demanding, and we need to be in top shape to give you our best show!

Recorded music on band breaks

If your selected group is using an amplifier or PA, we can plug in your music player or ours.  Please let us know ahead of time if you’d like us to do this so we make sure we have an appropriate playlist that fits your style.

Will you accompany my friend/sister/cousin/etc for a song?

Lots of folks ask if we can accompany a singer for a song during the ceremony,  so here’s our take on this potentially awesome and potentially perilous endeavor (made exponentially more perilous when it’s a singer who lives in another state, which somehow is always the case)…

First, the answer to the question is generally yes, we can totally accompany a singer of your choice.

What a singer needs from us is for us to make them sound good.

What we need from a singer (and possibly from our client) is a few tools to make that happen.

Here’s a list of the elements at play:

  • Amplification and Sound System — every singer deserves a good mic that they can easily use.  It’s extremely rare that a singer will be able to fill a room without a mic, especially if they’re singing a pop song that requires some subtlety.
  • Arrangement – it’s actually unusual to perform a song in its original entire version at a wedding ceremony.  Almost every time, we will end up making some adjustment to the length or form of the song.
  • Key – about half the time, we will end up changing the key of the song to something other than the original key.  Determining the appropriate key can be tricky if the singer isn’t sure.
  • Sheet Music — every time, without exception, we will have to make special sheet music for ourselves.  Even if you or your singer kindly provides us with a piano/vocal/guitar arrangement from musicnotes.com (and please do – it will save us some time), we will still need to adapt that arrangement to suit the particular ensemble that will play it, and the singer, and any adjustments we’ve made to the song form.
  • Rehearsal – Somehow, somewhere, we all have to learn the song.

Here’s the part where we cannot resist making mention of the fact that all the lessons we’ve learned about accompanying singers have been learned the hard way.  Hooray for experience!

And now is probably a good time to mention that, yes, of course, we do charge extra for all of this.  Not a zillion dollars, but enough to cover the time and cost of dealing with all of the above.

Here’s our fee breakdown:

1. We charge an extra $50 or $100 for the arrangement and the special sheet music even if you provide us with sheet music.  Because as I noted above, in 100% of cases we will have to take extra time to make customized sheet music for ourselves.  $50 if guitar is in your ensemble; $100 if you have no guitar.

2. We require that you book us for an extra 30 minutes to allocate time for rehearsal on the day of the wedding.  This 30 minutes needs to be immediately before our normal start time.  And of course we need the singer to be there for this time.  This time is not billed at our hourly rate; instead, we require a flat fee of $50 per musician for this rehearsal.

And, depending on the ensemble you have booked,

3. We may have to charge an additional $50 flat fee for providing sound for your singer.  This will depend entirely on your ensemble.  It may be wise to see if there are other resources, such as your DJ, who can provide sound for your singer.

So, if we would normally have a day-of timeline like this (this is a hypothetical one-hour ceremony booking for a ceremony happening at 4 pm):

  • 3:10 musicians arrive for set-up (we always arrive 30 minutes prior to start time and we don’t charge for this time)
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony start time
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

With a singer, we’d do it like this:

  • 2:40 musicians arrive for set-up
  • 3:10 singer meets musicians to rehearse song
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony starts and somewhere in here, we execute the song brilliantly with your awesome singer!
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

So what would have normally been a one-hour booking needs to be booked for 90 minutes.  Make sense? It’s just an extra half-hour right before prelude music.

Other (2)

Can we see you play live?

Under the name “Collage Music”, we perform live exclusively for private events; the exception being our holiday music performances.  We’re sure you can understand that while we’d love to invite you to crash our upcoming private events, our clients might feel otherwise.

See our individual bios for other bands we play in that do regular public performances.  Come see us and say hello!

 

Do you have a CD?

We have a CD of holiday music here on CDBaby.

For purposes of listening to demo tracks, we have transitioned to entirely online format, so we no longer offer CD’s of samples.  We are happy to email you individual mp3’s, if you’re unable to listen via our website for any reason.