Conservatory Professional Development

Gig Referral Service

Oberlin’s Gig Referral Service connects Oberlin Conservatory students with freelance work and professional experience in the region.

The service aims to provide community members with highly talented musicians for their events including weddings or receptions, business functions, holiday parties, religious services, and entertainment for special occasions.

For Current Students

Students interested in joining the Gig Referral Service are required to attend an Info Session and Orientation with the director of professional development. During the orientation, students will learn about our internal listing procedure, standard hiring fees for the region, and how to create contracts for gigs. Students are expected to uphold the highest level of professionalism and performance standards as representatives of Oberlin Conservatory. Contact the Office of Professional Development if you are interested or have any questions.

PLEASE NOTE:  Oberlin students utilizing the Gig Referral Service recognize the College does not control or direct the working or environmental conditions of the third parties with whom students are contracting for gigs. Students are responsible for ensuring that their gigs follow all applicable health and safety guidelines. The decision to participate in a gig rests solely with the Oberlin student as the Gig Referral Service is entirely voluntary and not a mandatory component of the College's educational program. 

For Clients

Community members interested in hiring a student musician or ensemble are encouraged to submit an inquiry form:

Gig Referral Inquiry

Please be prepared to indicate the date, time, location, fee, and musical preference for your event. Once the details of your event have been received, we will post your opportunity to our internal gig listing board. If any of our students are available to perform at your event, we will connect you via email to coordinate details directly with the student. While we are able to fill most of the gigs that come through the office, the Gig Referral Service cannot guarantee that every opportunity will be filled.

If you have any questions about the Gig Referral Service, send email to

Gig Hiring Guide

Hiring a musician can be a difficult process for the non-musician. You’ll want to consider the space, date and time, and atmosphere you are trying to create. The Gig Referral Service is offering this guide to support your search for the perfect entertainment.

Woodwinds: flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, saxophone
Brass: trumpet, trombone, horn, tuba
Strings: violin, viola, cello, bass
Voice: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass
Other: piano, organ, harp, guitar

Typical Ensembles

  • Harp and flute duo
  • String quartet
  • Brass quintet
  • Jazz trio

Questions to consider:

  • Do you have the date, time, and location of the event solidified?
  • What is your budget?
  • What type of atmosphere do you want to create?
  • Is the location/venue suitable for musicians?
  • Is there a piano? When was it last tuned?

The size of the wedding and budget will most likely affect the choice of musicians and music at a ceremony or reception. The first step is to decide if you are interested in one musician for the whole ceremony or various groups for different parts of the ceremony. For instance, some might want a string quartet for the processional and a vocalist during the ceremony.

Reception musicians and music can vary depending on the atmosphere you want to encourage. If the reception will include dancing, a more popular style of music may be preferred - perhaps a jazz or swing group. If the reception is more formal, such as a cocktail reception, a pianist or string ensemble can achieve a relaxed or light atmosphere. Other instruments or small ensembles include: guitar, harp, jazz/piano trio, and woodwind quintet.

Music for parties is generally only background music. Therefore, budget, venue and audience size might be more of a consideration to you as you organize the event. Small, intimate events including cocktail receptions, dinner parties, and holiday gatherings are appropriate settings for soloists, duos, or trios. The style and genre tend to be on the lighter side. Jazz and classical music, or perhaps something relevant to the time of year, is most appropriate. (See also Corporate Events below.)

Corporate events can range from large, themed events to small social gatherings. In either case, the appropriate music may depend on the size and budget of the event. For more social corporate parties you may want to consider appropriate ethnic music, jazz ensembles, or cover bands.

Similar to the musical suggestions made for a cocktail reception, classical music or smaller ensembles work well for quiet, small events. A singer/songwriter, classical guitarists, solo violinists, and harpists seem to be best suited for this type of event. For either large or small parties, some clients use the musicians to act as entertainment between the cocktail hour and dinner, performing a short concert-like set. These short performances can also be used to break the event up into smaller portions.

Other events that may include musical entertainment include graduations, funerals, bat/bar mitzvahs, birthdays, retirement, and many others.