Five tips for planning your funeral music

Make sure you know what to do and what to avoid when planning your funeral music.

1. Check your music with your venue and celebrant. Some venues have strict rules about what music is and isn't allowed. For example some churches won't allow secular music to be played inside. There are ways around this of course - at some services our singers simply sing outside! Crematoria also have to know the details of your music well in advance of the service as part of their policy. Always check the music with the person taking the service so that everyone's singing from the same hymn sheet - so to speak.

2. Don't miss the singing! Many people like to have the choir sing as the coffin exits the church when the service has finished. As the family traditionally follow the coffin out, this means unfortunately the person who booked the choir (usually a family member) might miss the second half of the exit song! We recommend having your main performances during the body of the service and just light organ music for the exit, or arrange for your pallbearers to give you a chance to hear the music before they start to take the coffin out.

3. Book a singer and/or accompanist if you'll be singing hymns. Lots of churchgoers can sing the hymns from memory while standing on their heads. But people who aren't so familiar with hymn singing will need some help. Either way, it’s always best to have a live piano or organ accompanist to keep everyone together. Booking a professional soloist or choir can give your congregation a much-needed boost, and means people have the option to just listen if they don't feel like joining in.

4. Four's the charm. Most hymns and indeed many other kinds of song are written in at least four harmonising parts. These are Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass, or SATB for short. If you want to get the most out of your music, we recommend booking singers in multiples of four so you get to hear all of these different parts interacting with each other in harmony.

5. Pick songs that mean something to you. Many of our clients tear their hair out either trying to figure out what their loved one would have wanted, or picking songs that the traditionalists in the congregation would approve of. We believe there are no rules when it comes to choosing songs for a funeral, and that the music is as much for the family as it is for the deceased. Pick something that will help you with your grief, something uplifting, or something that reminds you of your loved one, and try not to feel pressured to choose the 'right' thing. There's no right or wrong, only what helps, and we're happy to help you with your choices if you need some guidance.

Take a look at our articles page for more help and suggestions when choosing funeral music.

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