Top tips for working with professional musicians

Working with professional musicians is a great way for your group to develop musically, with great benefits for the professional as well. Here are our top tips to help your professional engagements run smoothly.

Below we've compiled the best practice tips that will enable the professional musician you’ve booked to give the very best of themselves, and it comes at no extra cost to your music group.

Initial contact

The intial contact with your proposed professional musician should include:

  • Date, time and location of performance.
  • Full details of repertoire (check if there are alternative versions).
  • What role would you like them to take?
    • Lead a sectional, play in the orchestra, or be a soloist?
  • Dates, times and locations of rehearsals.
    • Offer a choice of dates if you can.
    • Ask if a specific time to rehearse would help if they are only in part of the programme.
  • State the fee and check that it’s acceptable. 
    • Check recommended rates from Making Music and/or the Musicians’ Union.
    • Consider the musician's advance preparation time within the fee.
    • Musicians who are able may choose to donate their fee back to a charitable performance, but should not be asked to perform free of charge.
  • Offer travel expenses.
    • Receipted rail fares or pence per mile.
    • Ask whether they intend to drive or use public transport.
  • Travel and parking. 
    • Anything the musician should know about the area?
    • Could your group help with a lift from and back to a rail station?
  • Access requirements.
    • Some venues present challenges but lateral thinking can often solve them. Access must not be used as a reason to choose a different musician. To learn more about this, check out our access and inclusion resources.
  • Recordings and photographs.
    • Ask for consent in advance if you plan to record for YouTube, social media etc.  

You should also obtain the musician's preferred contact details and follow-up in writing that confirms all information. Make sure to include times and the full addresses of rehearsal and performance venues, then ask for an acknowledgement of receipt.

Check out Making Music's template contract for working with professional musicians and the available subsidies for engaging professionals.

On the day

On the day of the rehearsal or performance, you should:

  • Provide a music stand.
  • Allocate a member of your group to act as the host for your musician to help with queries and local information.
  • Offer a hot drink and give recommendations on where to get food nearby.
  • Provide somewhere to warm up, rest and change in private. A chair and table would be helpful.
    • Provide heating if needed.
    • Professional musicians often move between work locations without going home in between. Consider providing power points for charging a phone or laptop.

Thank you to professional musician Louise Braithwaite for her input with this resource.

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.