Live music or recorded music: which is best? [Updated 2021]
When you’re organising a funeral, there isn’t always a lot of time to investigate lots of options for the service. So, many families may not even realise you can have live music at a funerals service. And that applies to the songs you and your loved one enjoyed, not just the hymns.
Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, where communal singing is not possible, many find having a solo singer even more important as it ‘keeps the music alive’ when so many things are not possible and many restrictions upon us in this time of pandemic.
So, why would you choose to have live music? Here’s five reasons that families have told us.
1. Something special for the service
Live music adds a special something to a funeral service. It’s more personal, more immediate and adds extra interest in a service celebrating a life. In an age of digital music available anytime anywhere, it also shows that you and your family have taken just a little extra time to find music that’s special to you all.
Thank you so much for being there yesterday- everyone commented on the music and your beautiful voice. It made such a difference to the whole feeling.
We want to thank you so much for making Jean’s funeral so special this morning. You sang so beautifully and it was the making of the service.
G&MP, mother's funeral, North East Surrey Crematorium, Morden
2. Someone singing the hymns
Most families like to have a hymn or two in a church funeral service, and many crematorium services too. The problem is, singing when you’re upset isn’t easy. What’s more, not everyone will know the hymn tunes, especially the younger generation. Add in those who think they can’t sing, or members of a community that don’t sing, and you may have a church where only a handful of people are singing at all! And, as mentioned above communal singing is not possible thanks to the pandemic. However, a solo singer is permitted to sing, plus as an added precaution we sing in face masks to ensure the safety of all attending.
A professional singer can help by leading the hymn singing. With a strong, clear voice singing the tune, people are more confident to join in, and whilst there may only be a few who sing verse one with us, by verse four we’ve got more people singing as they’ve picked up the tune. It also relieves the pressure on the family to sing, and many older folk like to sit back and just listen as their favourite hymn fills the church.
Your lead in the hymn singing motivated and encouraged the other mourners to give voice. As one of our friends who attended said. ”You certainly gave dear Carol a superb send-off, and the singer was a masterstroke.
MN, wife’s funeral, Croydon Crematorium
Thank you Toni, your leading the hymns was wonderful. You had just the right touch, and helped us all raise our voices when needed. Your solos were magical and without effort you sang the exit music when there was a problem with the recorded version. A true professional with a wonderful gift.
We all have favourite singers, but we also have favourite songs that have been sung by many singers over the years. We always say to families, “If you love the singer, play the CD, if you love the song, we’ll sing it live.”
So, if you love Eva Cassidy’s voice, play her version of “Over the Rainbow’. If you love the song and it was a family favourite, chances are everyone knows a slightly different version, such as the original version sung by Judy Garland. When we sing it live as a solo with gentle accompaniment, we perform it simply and with genuine feeling, to bring the focus back on the song and its message of a better place beyond the clouds, “way up high”.
Feedback from others at the funeral was so enthusiastic. They were touched by your wonderful voice, sincerity of presentation and overall performance. “Time to Say Goodbye” was most people’s favourite, moving song. My Aunt was a bit of a perfectionist herself and I know she would have thoroughly approved of your amazing contribution to a beautiful service.
JD, aunt’s funeral, St Michael’s Catholic Church, Cranford Middx
I cannot thank you enough for singing at our small funeral service. You sang our chosen songs so beautifully and with such commitment and empathy. Jane, our daughter, who was here from America, was overwhelmed by your singing, it was wonderful! Once again Toni, thank you so much from myself and all the family.
AJ, husband’s funeral, Southampton crematorium
4. A special performance just for you
Every time we sing at a funeral service, it’s a one-off, a bespoke performance just for those in the church, crematorium, chapel or burial ground. It’s a unique, private concert, if you like, and no two are ever they same. Yes, there are favourite hymns and song we sing more often, such as “Ave Maria” and “Time to say goodbye”, but there are often special choices the family have asked for, from “Fields of Athenry” to “Bring Me Sunshine” and recently “Jealous of the angels”.
In addition to being a superb singer, Toni suggested wonderful songs that were in addition to her repertoire, that were perfect for my Aunt. Thank you Toni; I know my aunt would have been very happy.
AS, aunt’s funeral, Woking Crematorium, Woking
Thank you so much that was wonderful. Your singing was just the perfect tribute for my mum. And thank you so much for learning the special song and arranging a backing track, you are talented. Thanks once again.
DL, mother’s funeral, Bluebell Cemetery, Halstead, Kent
5. Time for reflection
In a world of endless hustle and bustle, there’s something special about taking a few minutes just to sit and listen to a single voice singing a song. We know that music can move people, so we’re never worried when people start to cry when we sing. It’s simply the memories and the music combining to express their sense of loss, and it can be very beneficial as part of the grieving process. So often people come up to us afterwards, several tissues later, and say “That was so lovely”.
Words cannot describe the pain of grief over the past 5 months but what is lovely is to remember how many people’s hearts were touched just listening to you during the service. We will talk about you for a very long time. In the nicest way of course!
LA, mother’s & father’s funerals, St James' Catholic Church, Reading
Thank you for making the service to celebrate my mother’s life so very special. Your singing was more than beautiful, you created a wonderful spiritual atmosphere which was so moving.…
I shall always remember the way you connected with me and my mother whilst you sang. To do so with such respect and sensitivity is an incredible gift.
… You made mum’s farewell an occasion which gave everyone something very beautiful and positive to reflect upon; a wonderful memory for each of us, which my mother would have really appreciated and enjoyed.
DS, mother’s funeral, St James’ Church, West End
How to hire a funeral singer
It’s easy. Just call us to discuss what you’ve got in mind, or for suggestions of suitable songs if you’re stuck for inspiration. We’re always happy to talk and happy to help. 01252 511 762.