Are you considering the gift of a singing telegram?
Singing telegrams can be used for many things - to jest, to honor, to romance, or to celebrate.
Lately, I have been getting more frequent requests for singing telegrams. I prefer the word "Serenade" because I don't dress up in some funky costume & act silly. Instead, I propose to sing something meaningful to the recipient, that will enforce the giver's sentiments. Sometimes I add a custom poem (aka Verses to Go), which can be included as a concrete keepsake for the recipient. (Verses to Go can be ordered on-line (VersesToGo.com) all over the country without the live serenade and be delivered electronically versus printed/mailed.)
I have been asked to serenade people for their birthday, just because, pre-hospitalization, recovering from cancer, and even to convince someone to take a vacation!
My first "Verse To Go" Live presentation occured many years ago, when I was asked to attend a baby shower. At the time, I was a down and out musician with no cash to spend on a gift. Voila! I wrote a song, hand notated it on staff paper, and sang it with my guitar live at the shower. A few years ago, I actually recorded the song on one of my CDs, after relocating my friend and asking if she minded. It was nice to reconnect and we are still keeping in touch. (Listen to my song sample "Child of Lil's" on my "Renewed CD" page - sample tracks are at the bottom.)
I cannot speak for others providing services like this. However, here are some questions I get and considerations I bring up when talking with a potential client:
BE THERE SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT? Probably not! (No one has really asked me that - but it could happen!) To be most successful, it helps to be a little flexible. Personally, I perform for pay all of the time, and am often booked up! I also have some personal obligations - and - yes - do try to sleep once in a while. If you can be flexible with the time and/or date, I may be able to fit it in more easily. Believe me, I do whatever I can to work with you and provide good service. (See some of my testimonials at the bottom of my website home pages at PC Snyder Music and Verses to Go.)
HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE? I charge for a full hour of my time at my party rate, even if your required presentation is ~ 15 minutes. This is because during your 15 minutes, I cannot take an hour long engagement somewhere else. In addition, I will likely spend much more than an hour working with you to customize the presentation. I charge an additional fee to write poetry or music and prepare a graphically pleasing keepsake. I also add travel fees. If it is going to take me 3 hours driving round-trip to go and come back, despite only 15 minutes performance time, I will have to charge you for my travel time. Fees are collected before I provide service, usually by invoicing (through PayPal or other system where a credit card can be used securely for payment). If I don't receive payment before I walk out the door, your presentation will not happen. Most requests of this nature are spontaneous and with clients I have never met or worked with. The likelihood is this is a one-time deal, though I could potentially get a referral at some point for future business. Usually, when someone is looking for a unique gift like this, once they have done it, they will look for something else unique to do the next time around.
LOCATION LOCATION! Though deliveries at home can be a nice surprise for the recipient, they can also be an unexpected and undesired imposition. These days, I would be careful about surprising someone who may be armed and ready to protect themselves (or call the police) at the sign of an imposter. If you are having a party at the house, it may be a little more reasonable - or consider a public location. However, the public venue must be willing to let you do this! Please check with your venue before making a commitment. Restaurants - may not want you disrupting their customers and may also have overhead music going that would be distracting to a singer! Do they have a private room (without music piped in)? Do they have any restrictions to impose (i.e. - singing is okay, but no instruments)? If you are honoring someone at their workplace, make sure their boss agrees on the interruption that will occur and that there is somewhere to do this that would not disturb other people at work. If outside - at a park for instance - daylight works better for safety, evening park closures, not getting lost on a trail, and to locate your recipient! A medical, healthcare, or senior facility? Please ask permission from the administration, security staff, caregivers, activity directors, etc., to make sure your serenader won't get stopped at the door, thrown out for disturbance, or be walking in on some already planned concert (like at a senior center). I will decline situations I feel uncomfortable about (like visiting an individual I don't know at their home in a bad part of town) but may offer some alternative solutions.
CAN YOU SING MY FAVORITE SONG? It depends! I may not have time to learn your song requests by heart or arrange/write new music at the last minute. Often find me with a music stand with lyrics/music for reference. I am very good at some styles where others are not my forte. If you allow me to use my own styling, I can probably work out a variety of styles. Otherwise, we can talk about what you want to convey, and I can come up with some choices from my current repertoire that would support your sentiment. At times, I will arrange short medleys of songs, in some pattern, to get all the favorites into a short programmed presentation. I have to say Rap or heavy metal is not my forte, and I am not a classical opera singer either. If you are talking pop (through the decades including some contemporary music), folk, country rock, easy listening, jazz standards, or movies/Broadway musicals, we are going to connect on something!
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: When I walk away, I want to have accomplished several things. Your recipient should feel very honored and loved, know you wanted something special for them, and be happy to have received this gift. You should be very pleased at the service I provided, outcome of the presentation, and your recipient's reaction. I will always ask you for a reference I might use on my website, and/or to rate me on one of the lead services I use to connect with other clients like you. If you are not 100% happy, I hope for an honest assessment, and the chance to right any misunderstandings or mishaps (which should not occur if we plan well from the start). I want you to remember me, and tell others you were pleased. If I write a poem for your recipient, I hope they find it touching and relevant enough to frame it or add it to their scrapbook.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: When working with other service providers, they may have their own specialties, methods of doing business, and presentation options. Get a feel for their repertoire, rules, regulations, and do ask questions about the concerns I have raised here. Some services charge by location. Some offer costumed characters and comedy routines. The best thing is to find the perfect fit for your vision. Don't settle for something less than you want. On the other hand, be realistic about local availability, pricing, service, and delivery, as you would about anything you purchase. Lastly, ask about cancellation policies (if any), and references from prior customers.
What better gift can you give, than something very personal, that will be held in memory for many years to come?
Feel free to connect with me and share your experiences about finding people to give singing telegrams and singing telegrams themselves. I would love to see some comments here. What worked for you? What did not? Was the recipient as pleased as you hoped they would be?
Many happy, inspired, givings to you and yours!
Paula C Snyder