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Tunes, hymns, melodies and songs are generally considered essential elements of a funeral. Here’s our five top tips to hit the right note for you and your loved ones.

With over five generations of experience in arranging funerals, one truth prevails at William Purves and this is our number one tip.

  1. Music at a funeral needs to reflect the personality, or wishes, of the deceased.

For some this will be traditional hymns in a church setting; for others it’s a steel band with gospel choirs, or just family favourites around a woodland grave with an iphone. It’s vital to respect the wishes set out by the deceased, or in the absence of anything explicit, to respect their style and tastes.

  1. Who’s going to be there?

If the family, friends and other mourners tend towards one end of the spectrum, it’s best to avoid extreme choices that could cause offence. Personalising a funeral strikes a balance between how the deceased would want to be remembered with how the mourners remember them.  It’s possible to blend styles with a carefully chosen tune, or to shake up an event with a surprise performance.  While anything is possible, it may not be appropriate.

  1. Hitting the high notes

Mourners can find singing tough. Sometimes raw emotion gets in the way and music intended to rally spirits, can end up doing the exact opposite. This can be solved by booking choirs, soloists or other performers. We’ve had steel, jazz, pipe and rock bands to children’s, men’s or hospice choirs both live and pre-recorded.  And if you need background help with music or recordings, we can assist at most venues inside and outdoors.

  1. Location, location, location

Cathedrals and churches lend themselves well to booming organs and large crowd singing, where hymns are popular. Smaller venues favour intimate performances. Graveside burials – both woodland and cemetery – are at the mercy of the elements such as wind and rain or other distractions like passers-by. Crematoria and service rooms provide backing music or playlists and can often display lyrics on a central screen. So your choice of venue can often help shape decisions around music.

  1. Timed to perfection

A well chosen piece of music can be so effective, it has the potential to tip loved ones over the edge emotionally.  Our advice is carefully choose the right time to play it: that may be on arrival, during the funeral or as the coffin leaves on a final journey.

And if you need further inspiration on where to start, here’s the most popular choices from last year: Needing Inspiration to Choose Music at a Funeral?