It is tempting to employ a capable student to play at your wedding, either as a soloist or as part of a group.
It is certainly a great way to save money, with costs typically £25 – £75 for a couple of hours, rather than the £200+ for a professional, but what are the pit falls?
- Repertoire: Most professionals are a minimum of Grade 8 or equivalent. Anyone below Grade 5 would have a limited repertoire, and the majority of the pieces you might choose are likely to be around Grade 8. Be prepared to accept the musicians choice of repertoire; fine for background music, and don’t expect them to be able to play a particular requests.
- Liability insurance: Unless they are performing regularly in public, students are unlikely to have the liability insurance and PAT tested equipment required by most venues. This is particularly relevant to live bands and discos. For a one-off event insurance costs around £130 per musician.
- Experience: Only by performing at a number of weddings will a musician get a feel for the pieces that work well and the appropriate volume. They will also have more of an idea of how the day is going to work, and can advise you accordingly.
- Reputation: A professional is reliant on their reputation for their livelihood whereas a student may be tempted to forego the modest fee you are offering if the date becomes inconvenient.
Our advice? If music is important to you, and you can afford to use a professional, do so. If you are using an amateur or students for the disco or live band who need to plug anything in to the electricity, ensure that they have all the right insurance and PAT testing well before the wedding.
No one aged under 18 can legally be held to a contract that they have entered in to, so if you are employing a student under 18 be aware that the contract protects them from you cancelling the booking, but not vice versa.
Whereas performing at a concert or a private event will be ther first priority for a professional musician who relies on this sort of work, students are more likely to have other commitments, not least to perform for their school or college if required, often at short notice.
“If music be the food of love, play on”
The easiest way to track down a suitable student is through their teacher as they will know who will be the right standard for you. Many professional performers teach music during the week, and you may be happy to be approached for suggestions. It also gives them the opportunity to discuss with you whether it may be more sensible for you to use a professional, or perhaps a combination of a professional for the ceremony followed by a student for background music during the reception.