When it comes to deciding what to include in the service for a small funeral, there really are no hard and fast rules. The last few funerals I've sung at have shown exactly that point.
One of the skills you learn at music college as a student of singing is to suit your voice to the music, and that includes volume. Singing a song with piano is obviously different to singing an aria with orchestra, for example. However, it;'s only experience that teaches you the art of self-regulating and adjusting your voice to different spaces as well. And it's not always about the size of the space either.
There's something very special and particularly moving about singing at the graveside. It also seems to be a growing trend; we’ve sung at 5 gravesides this year alone, and with more enquiries in the pipeline too.
Without sounding too grand about it, singing at the final resting place for the person we’ve learned about during the funeral service feels like an honour. We’ve been with the family through the process of choosing funeral music, singing under an open sky (whatever the weather) feels like a natural end to our involvement.
Throughout the years we've been singing for funerals, no pattern for bookings has appeared. However, this year, one has emerged - bookings for Fridays and mostly the middle Friday of the month. We're not sure why this might be. Do more people:
We've been delving into the files and realised a milestone has passed. We've sung at over 200 funerals.
What's amazing is the breakdown of where and what type of funeral we've sung for. Here's the stats:
Whilst in the car today, I was musing on what a terrific job I have. I know funerals are not what many people like to think about, but I really see the value of the enjoyment I give, and that I get out of singing at them. Today is a good point in case.
From our vantage point at the front of a church, our singers never cease to marvel at the skill, care and dignity of the unsung heroes at a funeral, the pallbearers.
As I sat last night watching the memorial services from Belgium and Westminster Abbey, it set me thinking about how right it is that we mark this occasion suitably. The next 4 years will bring many memorial events to the forefront of life in the 21st century.
Families may not realise that they can arrange their own non-religious funeral services at a crematorium, without a celebrant. We have attended two such funerals, and must confess we have mixed feeling about their merits.
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