Funerals and memorial services are sacred events, even when they are not held in a religious setting. Ideally, a funeral service mourns the death and yet celebrates the life of the person who has passed on. A key way in which a funeral service is able to bring together the need to mourn and the desire to celebrate is found through the selection and presentation of music.
In nearly all funerals, music is a foundational element of the service. If you have a musical background, and solid ability, you may want to give serious consideration to providing funeral and memorial service music. Although a bit of a cliché, because the one thing we all share is our mortality, the need for funeral service music providers will always exist.
There are a number of factors that you need to bear in mind if you want to become successful at providing music for funeral and memorial services. By paying heed to these tips and tactics, you will be able to place yourself on a pathway towards success in providing comforting and appropriately celebratory music at funerals and memorial services.
Capable of Short-Notice Performances
If you are going to enjoy success in providing music for funerals, you must be capable of providing quality short-notice performances. In the majority of cases, a funeral is held within a matter of days of a person’s passing. Memorial services might be scheduled further down the road. Nonetheless, you need to make sure you have the capacity and ability to be ready to perform in a short period of time in many cases.
Know the Person Being Memorialized
As you begin providing funeral service music, odds are that some of your initial gigs will be for people who had at least some contact with during their lives. (The use of the term “gig” is not intended to be disrespectful to the underlying purposes of these types of performances. The use of “gig” is widespread in the music industry, of course. It is also being used among those musicians and singers that focus a good amount of their time celebrating the lives of deceased people. The term is not utilized, however, when conversing with families and friends of deceased people.)
If you have no personal connection with the deceased person, you will need to learn about them from their family and friends. (You are best served learning about a deceased person from as broad a selection of people that you reasonably can access. Odds are family members may view a deceased person differently in some ways than do friends or work colleagues.)
From this “research” you will develop at least some knowledge and appreciation for the person who has passed. While family members and others will have ideas about music, as you well know there is more to performing than merely selecting songs. For example, Ave Maria is an oftentimes selected song for a funeral. With that said, while that might be a song of choice for a person’s funeral generally, the musician may be called upon to consider whether it should be an instrumental, a more traditional rendition with instruments, or an acoustic presentation. What you have discerned about the deceased person aids in making such determinations.
Even when a deceased individual has selected music for his or her service in advance of passing on, that thoughtful proactive person probably paid little attention to prelude music – the music played leading up to the funeral or memorial service itself. People tend to congregate a decent amount of time in advance of a funeral service. One does not want them sitting around in stony silence.
Thus, a part of earning your wings as a successful funeral service musician or singer, you must develop your own catalog of music that can be utilized for the prelude. You will want to include a broad range of selections, again understanding that people come from all walks of life and can have very different tastes when it comes to music, including at funerals and memorial services.
Marketing Your Services
As crass as it may sound on the surface, you need to market, promote and advertise your availability as a funeral singer or musician. The key to successfully marketing your services is to network with funeral homes, churches and other religious organizations, and event centers known to be used for funerals and memorial services. A common practice is for grieving family to ask people at these locations for music and singer recommendations.
You are also wise to take advantage of the internet in marketing your availability to provide funeral music. This can be accomplished through the development of a website and taking advantage of social media.
Be Prepared to Become Emotional
No matter how much experience you may have as a performer, participating in a funeral or memorial service has the potential to cause you to experience an emotional response of your own. This can particularly be the case when a young person has died, or an individual has passed on under particularly traumatic circumstances. Many singers and musicians involved in funerals are able to incorporate their own emotional responses into their performances.
By implementing these technics and strategies, you will be able to build a reputation as a wonderful musician or singer well-suited to performing at funerals and memorial services. You will be able build a successful funeral service music business.