Singers & Musicians

Professional Singers & Musicians

Singing and music at a funeral ceremony can be both healing and uplifting, and having a live performance of a meaningful song can be a beautiful tribute to a loved one. 

Whether it’s a soloist, someone to lead the hymns, or a service full of different types of music, professional performers can add dignity and beauty to the ceremony.

The range of choice is vast, from the drama and passion of opera to the warm and uplifting sound of choral music. Or get people swaying in the aisles with the soulful harmonies and complex rhythms of a gospel choir.

Options for Funeral Singers and Musicians

Here are some of the options for live funeral singers and musicians:

  • Solo Instrumentalist – a pianist, violinist or cellist can create a serene and peaceful atmosphere with their instrumental melodies.
  • Vocal Soloist – skilled funeral singers who can perform soulful and touching songs, adapting to different genres such as classical, gospel, or contemporary, based on the family’s preferences.
  • Choirs – a group of singers harmonising together to create a powerful and uplifting sound, performing hymns, spiritual songs, or customised arrangements for a more personal touch.
  • Bagpipers – often associated with funeral processions, bagpipers add a traditional and solemn element with their haunting melodies, evoking a sense of nostalgia and honouring the heritage of the person who has died.
  • Gospel Singers – known for their powerful and soulful voices, gospel singers bring joy and celebration to funerals, performing uplifting hymns and spiritual songs.
  • String Quartets – consisting of two violins, a viola, and a cello, string quartets provide a rich and sophisticated ambiance.
  • Pipers and Drummers – often seen in military or firefighter funerals, pipers and drummers perform traditional marches and tributes, honouring the deceased’s service and sacrifice with their rhythmic and powerful music.
  • Pianist / Organist – versatile musicians who can accompany the funeral with a wide range of songs, including classical pieces, hymns, or customised arrangements.
  • Harpist – the gentle, soothing sound of a harp provides a beautiful, relaxing ambience at a funeral.
  • Family and Friends – a musical tribute from family or friends can be lovely, making the service feel even more personal and special.

Each type of singer and musician brings a unique style and sound to the funeral service, allowing you to choose one that best reflects the personality and preferences of the person you are remembering.

Funeral Location and Music Choices

The location and type of funeral ceremony will have a bearing on the choice of funeral music. 

Understanding the Influence of Location and Space

Take into account the size of the venue where the funeral service will take place. For example, in a small chapel there may only be room for a few musicians and a gentler sound may be more appropriate, whereas a larger venue or place of worship will allow for a bigger group and sound.

For outdoor spaces, such as cemeteries or green burial grounds, there may be time constraints or noise limitations during graveside services.

Considerations of Faith, Culture or Religion

If the service is being held in a place of worship, the faith leader will need to approve your selection.  The same applies if the service is being taken by a member of the clergy in another location, such as a crematorium, although a wider range of music may be acceptable.

For some faiths and religions, only traditional choices of funeral music, singing or chanting are allowed, whereas for others, there is more flexibility.

If it is a civil ceremony with a celebrant leading the service, then almost anything is possible, so long as it is respectful and appropriate.

Did the Person Who has Died Make Their Wishes Known?

Is there a funeral plan, letter of funeral wishes, or information elsewhere that indicates what music the person who has died would like at their funeral? Or did they express their wishes verbally?

If they have made a list, most people intend it as a guide and are happy for those closest to them to edit or add to their suggestions, so it may not be necessary to include all of their choices. A funeral is as much for the living as for the dead and it can bring great comfort to the bereaved to include songs that bring a sense of connection to the person who has died.

Choosing Funeral Singers and Songs

Listening to a choir, group or soloist can provide the space and time in the service for contemplation and remembrance.

A funeral singer should be able to adapt their vocal range and style to match the desired ambiance of the service, whether it is soothing hymns or contemporary songs.

Choose a singer who can convey emotions sensitively through their performance, understanding the gravity of the occasion and delivering heartfelt renditions with empathy.

It is lovely to involve everyone in the service. Having a professional singer, musician or choir can ease the worry that people will be too emotional to sing. It can also help to give mourners the confidence to participate.

Singing together helps people to feel a part of the service and is bonding and cathartic.  Be it a gentle hymn or a modern classic, it helps to choose songs that are well known or popular so that people feel comfortable joining in.

Remember, you can have a mixture of both recorded and live music.  If you have a favourite version of a song by a particular artist, it can be great to play the original version. 

For more information about types of music for a funeral, please see Hymns and Music.

Live Musicians for Funerals

The organ is the traditional instrument of choice for many traditional Christian funerals, but there are lots of other options. How about a violin, lute, harp or accordion?  And what could be more evocative than ‘The Last Post’ played live on a bugle, or the distinctive wail and hum of bagpipes?

Now that funeral services and ceremonies can be held just about anywhere, the choice of music is endless – belt out a favourite pop song or something from the TV show they loved, or does the theme tune from Match of the Day bring back memories of a dearly-loved football fanatic?

Music evokes memories and memories are what keep people alive in our hearts and minds. Whatever you choose, let the music speak and provide a space for you to think about your special person.

Hiring Funeral Singers and Musicians: Tips and Timings

Planning a funeral can be a challenging and emotional task. To ensure a smooth process, follow some of these tips:

  • Importance of Early Planning – start thinking about musicians as soon as possible to allow ample time for research and arrangements.
  • Research Local Musicians – look for musicians who specialise in performing at funerals or have experience in providing appropriate music for such occasions. Seek recommendations from trusted sources who may have worked with reliable musicians before.
  • Communicate Expectations – clearly communicate your expectations regarding the type of music you would like for the funeral service. Discuss any specific requirements or preferences you have with the potential musicians, taking into account any religious or cultural considerations.
  • Finalise Arrangements in Advance – once you have found suitable musicians, finalise all arrangements well ahead of time. Confirm their availability on the day of the funeral to avoid any last-minute complications.

Collaborating with the chosen funeral singer or musician on song selection can help create a really personalised and meaningful musical experience for the funeral service. Discuss your loved one’s favourite songs or any specific requests they may have had, ensuring their musical preferences are honoured.

Creating a balanced programme with appropriate pacing throughout the service helps to maintain a respectful and solemn atmosphere.

It can be nice to incorporate a mix of instrumental pieces, vocal performances and, if appropriate, hymns, to provide variety and to cater to different preferences.

Rehearsing with musicians beforehand is a good idea to ensure smooth performances during the funeral service.

Allow them time to familiarise themselves with the chosen songs, practice transitions between pieces, and address any technical issues that might arise. A well-rehearsed performance contributes to a seamless and professional musical tribute.

Costs and Fees: Booking Musicians for a Funeral Service

Several factors can influence the cost of hiring funeral singers or musicians, including:

  • Experience and reputation of the musicians.
  • The number of musicians required for the service.
  • The duration of the performance.
  • The location of the venue.
  • The distance they will need to travel to reach the venue.

The pricing structure can range from hourly rates to an overall price. It is important to discuss costs in detail upfront and to understand any additional fees for travel expenses or special requests, such as learning new songs or arranging specific musical accompaniments.

Be sure to clarify payment terms, including deposits and cancellation policies, to avoid any misunderstandings.

How whiteballoon Can Help

Listen to audio clips on whiteballoon’s Inspiration pages for HymnsClassical and Contemporary music

Find and connect with professional funeral signers and musicians on our Singers & Musician Providers and Inspiration pages. The funeral singers and musicians listed on whiteballoon have a wealth of experience and knowledge and will be happy to talk through your music ideas and to make suggestions, so do give them a call.

Personalised Ideas Folder

Details of providers, plus items and images from our Inspiration pages can be saved to a personalised Ideas Folder in our Planning Tools section. This can be printed out and, if you wish, shared with others involved, such as family, friends, your celebrant or funeral director.

All of the whiteballoon Planning Tools are free to use. Just Register to securely save information to your folder.

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