Do you charge for travel time? In most cases, no. All fees include travel within the greater Puget Sound area (except by ferry), set up time, and warm up time. In other words, I don’t charge extra for those things; you just pay for music time and short break(s) if the performance is over an hour. I occasionally travel longer distances, and will sometimes charge a travel fee for those events. I will never add a travel fee that is not agreed upon in our contract.
Are there any other costs besides those listed on the Rates page? Additional fees may be charged for:
- time & fares for ferry travel
- accompanying a soloist or other musicians (rehearsal required)
- playing at your wedding rehearsal or attending without the harp (negotiable)
All fees will be guaranteed in writing when we sign a contract!
What if I want extra music for my wedding reception? If you hire me for a wedding ceremony, but would also like me to play for cocktails or the reception, the hourly rate for background music goes into effect after the ceremony postlude is finished. At this point the background music rate may be billed in 15 minute increments (see Rates page).
Do you charge for consultations? Never! I am happy to consult with clients and potential clients free of charge. Multiple calls are fine – you have lots of questions, I get that. Skype, phone, or in-person consultations will enable you to “hear before you hire.”
How do I hire you to be our harpist? A signed contract and a non-refundable deposit of $100 are necessary to hold your date on my calendar. I can email a contract to you, but I prefer a hard copy returned to me by mail after you have signed it. If the event is coming up in fewer than 10 days, you may just scan and email the signed contract back to me.
When and how do I pay you? Payment must be complete by the day of the event. I accept personal and corporate checks, cash, and Paypal.
Will you play in any setting? Regarding venues, I am limited by just a few things.
- I need to bring the harp in on a dolly, so I usually limit stair climbing to 4 stair steps or fewer. Even if you have strong helpers, I cannot turn over the harp lifting due to insurance purposes. However, handicap ramps are so prevalent these days that this is rarely an issue.
- The harp must be kept out of direct sunlight and any precipitation (including windblown fountain spray). Since the harp is such a desirable instrument for outdoor events and weddings, we can talk about where the harp can be placed for a safe and successful performance.
- I am sorry, but I don’t play on boats. I’m afraid I am quite prone to seasickness, and there are also balance issues with the harp when it is leaned back into playing position. Exception: The Skansonia in Seattle and similar docked ships.
- I am happy to play in sheltered outdoor locations during the warmer months. I regret that I cannot play outdoors in cool temperatures due to loss of finger agility (in our area, late September through April are indoor only).
How do you define “background music” on your Rates page? The best way to distinguish whether you are hiring me for “background music” is to ask yourself: are people allowed to talk aloud, move about freely, laugh at jokes, have a drink, etc. while I am playing? If yes, that is background music. If, on the other hand, the guests are seated in rows, if they are speaking in hushed tones or not at all, if they tend to applaud after each song… not background music.
Why does hiring a harpist cost so much? A fair question. I hope I can convince you that it’s actually a great value! All live musicians are somewhat pricey, but every time you pay for an evening of harp music, you are also paying for:
- about 45 minutes of packing up and loading/unloading harp and equipment into the car on each end of the engagement, plus set up and warm up time (most harpists arrive at least 45 minutes early)
- thousands of hours of training (daily practice of 2-4 hours)
- a closet full of formal wear
- the necessity of owning and maintaining a very large vehicle
- average costs of about $800 per year in maintenance for the harp (strings, mechanism regulation, etc.)
- your harpist taking extensive measures to stay healthy before your event, because we don’t call in sick unless it’s completely debilitating (and substitutes are hard to get)
- and of course years of performance experience to bring you the most beautiful music possible.