Frequently Asked Questions (LA Prospective Carolers)

Q: What is This?

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).

Traits I look for in Christmas Carolers:

Cheerful, entertaining performers

Beautiful, loud voices with easily suppressed vibrato

Excellent time management (not usually late, doesn’t double-book)

Experienced ensemble singers (can hold a part and stay in tune)

Ability to sing jazz harmony

Excellent communication skills (responds to most texts & emails within a few hours)

Ability to read music

Willingness and opprotunity to practice music

Stylistically versatile (classical, pop, jazz, Broadway)

Has most weekends and evenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas available

Reliable transportation

Rehearsals are generally not paid, performances are ALWAYS paid.

Q: How Much Do You Pay?

Generally, I pay as follows (per singer):

$85-100 for a 30-minute gig

$95-110   for   1-hour gig

$120-140   for   2-hour gig

$145-175   for   3-hour gig

$180-220   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?

"Los Angeles Area" Gigs may be anywhere between Orange County and Ventura county and sometimes even outside of that geographical area if the money is good enough. Most of them are in Los Angeles county.

"New York Area" gigs could be in any of the five bouroughs and sometimes East New Jersey. Gigs farther from Manhattan than those areas will pay more.

"Denver Area" gigs will be within a 30-mile radius of downtown Denver (approximately). Denver gigs outside of that area will pay better.

(You are not required to accept any gigs if the geography or travel time doesn't make sense for the pay you are offered.)

All the gigs that are booked or which I expect to book are listed on a large online spreadsheet I call the Gig Sheet, and each singer has a row on which they can indicate their availability and interest for that gig. This is a link to a view-only duplucate of the Los Angeles Gig Sheet from the end of the 2018 season (the singers' names are removed for privacy). The Gig Sheet is usually available for singers to start indicating the gigs they want starting around September 1st each year. There will be different Gig Sheet for each metro area.

Q: What Music Will I Be Singing?

I have a caroling Book that currently has about 100 songs in it, painstakingly compiled over the past 12+ years. New for 2022: New carolers will be required to be performance-ready on 61 or so of the most frequently-requested carols by their last rehearsal. There are another 40 or so songs in the Book that are not required learning for first-year carolers, although first-year carolers are welcome to learn them if they would like to be considered for more gigs. The Basic Rep (those first 62 songs) are primarily traditional carols, but there are about a dozen contemporary included as well. The Expanded Rep is more obscure songs and also more contemporary songs, and they skew a lot more difficult than the Basic Rep. Many songs (especially in the Expanded Rep) 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.

The Extended Rep will be mostly for featured performances and private parties. Carolers who only know the Basic Rep may be asked to learn a song or two from the Extended Rep for certain gigs. You will be given at least two weeks' notice if this affects you.

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 your learning the music, I provide vocal reference recordings of the music, both evenly balanced and versions with with your voice part pushed louder and panned to one side.

Q: Will I Be Wearing A Costume?

Yes, most gigs will be in period Victorian (also called Dickensian) costumes.  Providing the costume is your responsibility but I can help you in putting this together; I have some spare costume pieces and a lot of resources for historical costuming, as well as the names of some organizations from which you can purchase or rent costume pieces.

Some gigs may not be done in Victorian costumes - sometimes you may be asked to wear something else, up to and including a silly hat, but after Victorian costumes the most frequently requested outfits are cute/ugly holiday sweaters; occasionally we'll be asked to wear suits and/or cocktail dresses. I will need to see your full traditional costume before I can offer you gigs, so the costume deadline is generally around November 1st of each year for new carolers. Since specialty pieces can take some time to order, I suggest that you have everything at least ordered by mid-October.

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

I have generally 6-8 rehearsals per season. 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. It's not always possible, but do that based off information I gather from singers approved to join the roster, which is why I can't tell you the specific rehearsal schedule now. 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 you do need to attend at least one small group rehearsal to demonstrate that you are musically prepared and can hold your own part.

There will be different kinds of rehearsals in the LA area: Basic Rep, Expanded Rep, Scaroling, and Small Group rehearsals. There may be only one or two of each kind, so I suggest you try to attend as many appropriate rehearsals as you can.

Q: How Many Gigs Will You Offer Me?  

This depends on a number of factors including but not limited to your availability, how musically prepared you are, and how quickly you respond to emails. Most gigs are on Saturdays. My busiest carolers will do 20-25 gigs in a season, but most carolers do 5-15. I try to ensure that new carolers get at least 4 gigs their first season to justify the investment of their time. Most end up getting more gig offers than that.

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

If you are not generally 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.

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 able to have you on the TOR roster. (Simply being on another caroling company's roster is not considered a conflict of interest. If you are not sure, please talk to me about it.)

Q: What Do You Expect From Me?


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 a lot 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 sightreading when you perform. You should be familiar enough with your part to be reading the lyrics and just be using the music as a reference. Occasional slip-ups are no 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 part recordings. Rehearsals are mostly for me to assess your progress; I don't pound notes at rehearsals.

Q: Is there anything else I should know in advance?

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.

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.

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

--Colleen Keene

Also, here’s a bit of what we do:


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.