Make your Celebration Sing with The Right Music

Used to be, if you wanted to book a band or DJ for a party, you’d have to attend a live gig.

Today, finding the right music for an event is literally a few clicks away, thanks to digital technology.

It’s even easier to find the perfect soundtrack for your event if you live here in Chicago, a city rooted in music. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the northern suburbs to find exactly what your celebration calls for.

In Evanston, Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music is home to dozens of talented and affordable musicians. For these musicians, the rates are negotiated solely between you and the musician, so there are no fees or booking commissions. Finding a student musician is as easy as visiting the Bienen School of Music website, accessible through the Northwestern site, and scrolling to the bottom to the “Hire a Musician” link. Your request will be handled in person and you will receive a list of potential musicians, all faculty approved, with contact information.

Chicago Music Institute (MIC), is another great source for local musicians. Look here for vocalists, chamber music, jazz or classical music. Founded in 1931, MIC is one of the oldest community music schools in the state.

Of course, there’s no shortage of professional musicians in the area, as a few Google searches will reveal. Stitely Entertainment ( is an Evanston-based, family-owned organization that has grown from one orchestra—headed by Evanston dad and jazz musician Jeff Stitely—to a variety of bands and DJs for hire. While Stitely readily admits his job requires a lot of late nights, and a thick skin, he says he wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“One of the great things about sharing the gift of music is that my business is all about bringing joy to celebrations, be it a wedding, a bar mitzvah or a fundraiser gala,” Stitely says. He adds that Web technology makes it easy for prospective clients to hear what his musicians have to offer.

The Stitely site is particularly user friendly. You can watch a video, listen to recordings and download the song list from each of the five bands they offer, including the Stitely Orchestra. Each band’s listening page is organized according to style, and specific music for ceremony, cocktails, dance, Jewish music and Latin selections.

Lastly, if you don’t find what you want after a local search, there are national sites that offer local searches that will generate a plethora of options., founded by two friends who grew up together on Long Island (both with musician parents), is a robust search tool that allows you to search by city, and then narrow your request by date of event and then type of music you are looking for.

With just a little research, your guests will leave your party humming your tune, whether it’s “Party in the USA” or Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Minor.”

Planning a special celebration? Visit our Better List for great local resources.