Frequently Asked Questions

(Bay Area Prospective Carolers)

Q: What’s all this, then?

The Other Reindeer are professional holiday carolers in beautiful Dickensian costumes (usually, sometimes other costumes) who not only sing, but also interact with and delight audiences of all ages. We perform a cappella 4-part holiday music in SATB quartets (sometimes trios or octets, but usually quartets). We have been in business since 2009, and typically book 150-200 gigs per season. Most of those bookings are in the Los Angeles Area, but as of 2022, we are also booking gigs in Denver and New York City. This is our first year operating in the Bay Area (but I grew up in San Jose so I am very familiar with it!)

Traits I look for in Christmas Carolers:

The Other Reindeer perform with a “contemporary a cappella” sound. This means some voices may not be a good fit for us, regardless of musicianship or professional experience.

Rehearsals are generally not paid, performances are ALWAYS paid.

Q: How Much Do You Pay?

Generally, I pay as follows (per singer):

$80-90 for a 30-minute gig

$95-110   for   1-hour gig

$120-140   for   2-hour gig

$145-170   for   3-hour gig

$185-220   for   4-hour gig

Gigs involving travel and/or filming can sometimes pay more.

Some of the price differences may be based on what kind of costuming is involved, how hard it is to get to, whether or not it’s a weekend, if you will need to learn any new music, and many other factors.  

Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) generally pay more than what I listed above. Also, I will always tell you the pay for a specific gig when I'm offering it to you.

Q: Where Are The Gigs?

Gigs that pay the rates quoted above will be in the area between Los Gatos to the South, Marin to the North, and Pleasanton/Vallejo to the East. Occasionally there will be gigs in father away places, like Napa, or Santa Rosa, or Antioch, but those gigs will pay more than local gigs. You are not required to accept any gigs if the geography or travel time doesn't make sense for the pay you are offered; just don’t say “YES” on the Gig Sheet and then decline it when I offer it to you. Put “NO” on the Gig Sheet from the get-go and I will not waste my time pursuing the gig.

All the gigs that are booked or which I expect to book are listed on a large online spreadsheet (It’s a Google Sheet) I call the Gig Sheet, and each singer has a row on which they can indicate their availability and interest for that gig.  The Gig Sheet is usually available for singers to start indicating the gigs they want starting around September 1st each year.

Q: What Music Will I Be Singing?

The repertoire for the Bay Area carolers is about 70 carols. More than half are traditional carols and/or holiday songs you are probably familiar with. There are another 30 or so songs in the Book that are not required learning for Bay Area carolers, but if it happens that a client requests one of those songs for a gig you’re on, you may be asked to learn one or two of them. Many songs are straight-up vocal jazz and need to be sung with minimal or non-existent vibrato. The music will be shared with you in PDF format and you may either print it out or use a tablet/iPad on gigs.

Even if you are an experienced caroler, there are songs in my book with which you are not familiar and which are not always easily read. To aid you learning the music, I provide vocal reference recordings of the music.

Q: Will I Be Wearing A Costume?

Yes, most gigs will be in period Victorian (also called Dickensian) costumes. I will provide the complete costume if you wish, but if you can provide the key costume piece (that’s a high-quality top hat for tenors and basses and a long, voluminous skirt for sopranos and altos) you will be paid an additional $10 per gig you perform. There is more costume information on the Costuming page (see the menu above).

Q: How Many Rehearsals Are You Going to Have, and When Are They?

I can’t tell you the dates yet because they are scheduled around the availability of them people who need them, which is primarily new carolers, (you!) but most new carolers should plan to attend two to four rehearsals depending on their voice part and caroling experience. Please check out the Rehearsals page for more information about how many rehearsals you should attend. I try to schedule and locate them in places that are convenient for you. Many rehearsals end up being on Saturday and Sunday afternoons because that seems to be a time many carolers are available to meet, but there are exceptions. Rehearsals are mostly in September and October. Sometimes I will have one "last chance" rehearsal in early or mid-November.

You are not required to attend a specific number of rehearsals, but I do need to hear you sing in a quartet before the end of rehearsals to demonstrate that you are musically prepared and can hold your own part. You can arrive late or leave rehearsals early if you need to as well.

There will most likely be 3 or 4 Bay Area rehearsals. I suggest that you plan to attend as many as your schedule will allow.

Q: How Many Gigs Will You Offer Me?  

This depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

About a third of all gigs (30-35%, based on data gathered over the last decade) are on Saturdays. Fridays and Sundays are also fairly busy, together comprising about another 30% of the gigs each season, but there are still plenty weekday and weeknight gigs as well (about 40% are during the week). I try to ensure that new carolers get at least 3 gigs their first season to justify the investment of their time; most end up getting more gig offers than that. My goal is to get 20 Bay Area bookings, so I need about 16-20 carolers (4 or 5 per voice part) so that most singers will get 4-5 gigs each. Next year I will book more gigs, and you will need less rehearsal, so you can think of this as an investment in your future.

If you are ONLY available weekends that is fine, just be sure to let me know.

If you are generally NOT available either weekends or evenings in December it is probably not worth your time to learn the music, as I probably won't have many gigs for you. If you are not available ANY Saturdays in December, I will not be able to work with you.

Q: What if I’m already singing with another company?

I do not require or expect you to work with me exclusively! There are both advantages and challenges to working with multiple caroling companies. I would prefer if you decided to work with only TOR, but if you can keep the TOR Gig Sheet updated as to which TOR gigs you are available for, it will head-off most problems.

If you work with another caroling company in an administrative or directing capacity, or if you have any other obligations that I feel constitute a conflict of interest for you, I may not be comfortable having you on the TOR roster. (Simply being on another caroling company's roster or doing gigs with another caroling company is not considered a conflict of interest. If you are not sure, please talk to me about it.)

Q: What Do You Expect From your carolers?

Communication: I expect you to return emails ASAP, and definitely within 24 hours. If you cannot reply to emails in a timely fashion you may be dropped from my roster completely.  I may send texts about gigs, and I expect the same or faster response time for those. There is a private Facebook group for current carolers only, and I do post in there, primarily to let singers know when I have added some gigs to the Gig Sheet and sometimes when I need to fill a last-minute gig ASAP. Being a part of the Facebook group is not required, but you may find it very helpful; costume sales, music tips, jokes, and general caroling frustration and triumphs may also be posted in that group.

Technology: You need to have the ability to send and receive texts from your mobile phone, and you need to have a google account or gmail email address (this does not have to be your primary email address) and a device or computer which can easily access the Google Sheets where you will indicate which gigs you would like.

Adequate Music Preparation: Although you will be holding music, you should not be sight-reading when you perform. You should be familiar enough with your part to be reading the lyrics and using the music as a reference. Occasional slip-ups are not a big deal - I don't expect perfection, but I do expect about 95% note and rhythm accuracy. You will be expected to learn most of the music on your own, with the aid of the vocal reference recordings. Rehearsals are mostly for me to assess your progress; I don't pound notes at rehearsals. I rarely touch a piano in rehearsals because I expect you to have the music prepared in advance.

About half of the new carolers I accept into the roster each year are not able to learn & successfully perform the music in a quartet, and therefore I am not able to offer them paid gigs. Please understand that the music is likely harder than music you may have sung with other caroling companies, and it will take more time to learn than just the time you spend in rehearsal.

Q: Is there anything else I should know?

You have a couple options regarding the caroling book:

1) You may print and make your own book from a PDF I will provide. Caroling books should be made using a plain black 3-ring binder, with no colors or decorations on the outside. Sheet protectors are not required, and you may print two-sided pages if you want to save paper, although that makes it harder to update in future years.

2) You may read music from a tablet as long as it is in a folder that looks like a caroling book to people observing you sing. You can buy folders specifically made for this, or you can jury-rig a 3-ring binder.

Regardless of the format, you agree not to use any of the music for any other purpose other than practice, rehearsal, and performances for The Other Reindeer Carolers without my express written permission. You also agree not to share the sheet music with anyone else without my written permission.

If you have other questions, please respond to the email I sent you, and I will be happy to answer them!

--Colleen Keene

Sound good? Would you like to submit materials to be considered for our roster?

Please fill out this short form and then email your materials to the email address provided. (Propective carolers only! Not for returning carolers)

If you can't see the form below, please click here to complete it.

What happens after I complete the form?

Here is a rough timeline of what happens & when:

(These are APPROXIMATE dates - ACTUAL dates & deadlines may vary)

By July 15th - You send me your recordings and resume

By July 30 - I accept you into the roster (or not…)

By August 15 - You complete this year’s “Info-Gather” Form

By August 20 - You sign the contract

By August 25 - You are sent the sheet music and audio files and you start practicing

By Sept 1st - You are given access to the Gig Sheet and you update it ASAP

By Sept 1st - You indicate your availability for rehearsals

By Sept 10 - The rehearsal schedule is determined

By Sept 15 - You start shopping for costume pieces

By Oct 15  - You attend two to four rehearsals as needed

By Oct 20 - You successfully sing several songs in a quartet

By Oct 25 - You have assembled a costume

By Nov 1st - You have sent me a picture of you in your costume

By Nov 1st - You are musically and costume-approved to receive gig offers!

By Nov 1st - You start getting Gig Offers!

By Nov 10th - You send me a completed W9

Nov 10 thru Dec 24 - you update the Gig Sheet on a daily basis, and keep getting Gig Offers through the last week of December.

By December 26th - collapse in exhaustion and relief, $400-$1000 richer (actual total enrichment may vary)

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