How to Choose Music for a Funeral

Funeral Planning

Posted on December 04, 2018 by

Music is an often overlooked, but vitally important aspect of a funeral or memorial ceremony. As funerals have evolved over the years, the range of choices for music to accompany these ceremonies has broadened. Today, almost any music can be used for a funeral, so you’ll have the freedom to choose songs that reflect your loved one’s tastes, personality, and final wishes. When choosing the music to use for your loved one’s ceremony, consider the following factors:

What Music Did Your Loved One Enjoy?

Because music can set a personal tone for a funeral, the best place to start is usually to think about what kind of music your loved one enjoyed. Choosing songs that have significance to the deceased can create a more personal experience than choosing standard funeral music. If you have access to your loved one’s music collection, you can browse it for song options and ideas. Consider not only songs that fit the style of music your loved one enjoyed but also songs with a theme that may have been significant to him or her.

Do You Want Live Music?

With the technology available to us, it has become easy to play any music at a funeral through means such as CD’s or digital music players. However, the live music tradition has become more prevalent in recent years. Hiring even just one or two musicians--such as a pianist and a vocalist--could add a nice touch to a ceremony.  Some funeral homes even have in-house instruments such as a piano or organ. If you’re planning on live music during the services, keep in mind that it may limit the selection of songs.

Are You Planning a Religious Service?

Religious traditions may impact which songs you play during the funeral. There may be songs that are considered standard for ceremonies of certain religions.  Your loved one may have also had certain favorite religious songs of their own. Your congregation will be able to provide you with traditional song choices for the services.

What Tone Do You Want to Set?

Music can greatly influence the tone of any event, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than at funerals. When choosing songs, be sure to match the overall intended mood of the service. Will it be solemn and reflective, or will it be uplifting?  Will there be upbeat moments? The right mix of music can touch on a wide range of emotions throughout the ceremony.

Could Your Choices Cause Copyright Issues?

Copyright concerns are some of the furthest thoughts from your mind when planning a funeral for a loved one, but they should not be ignored. Thankfully, most funeral homes and churches have blanket licenses to use music during services. However, these licenses sometimes don't apply to live performances or slideshows, so it's best to run your plans--and your playlist--by the venue where you're hosting your funeral beforehand.

What Are the Lyrics Saying?

Everyone has songs they enjoy listening to without paying much attention to the lyrics, but musical lyrics can become extremely important at a funeral. If any of your song options have lyrics, review them before deciding to include those songs on your list. The lyrics can have a major impact on the tone of the ceremony, and they can also convey certain messages or themes that relate in some way to the deceased.

Honoring and remembering your loved one in the best way possible is the most significant guiding factor in planning any funeral, and music can play a major role in accomplishing that goal. Hopefully, thinking about these questions will set you on the right path toward making the best musical choices for such an important ceremony.

Need Help with Funeral Planning?

Gain access to our FREE funeral planning tools such as our Funeral Planning Checklist, My Funeral Wishes, Memorials, and more when you sign up for a FREE Funerals360 account!

Start Planning