site image

How to Choose Music for a Funeral Service

Published: July 25, 2022

When you plan how to memorialize a loved one, you will make many choices, from officiant to flower arrangements. Don’t let selecting music for the event stress you out. With a little thought and a few simple steps, you will check this item off your list quickly.

First, whom are you honoring? Did your loved one play any instruments or sing? The choices for classical lovers are different from Beatles fans or Johnny Cash enthusiasts. Jazz, Broadway tunes, hip hop, rap, favorite hymns, college songs, perhaps military anthems—jot down your thoughts on their taste. If they enjoyed a broad selection of music, consider offering more religious or classical music at the formal service, with a lighter playlist at a gathering afterwards. What on their streaming favorites device? What’s in their CD collection? Did they love ballroom or swing dancing?

Then think about your venue. If the service will be held at a church or other house of worship, meet with the clergy to determine their guidelines, which will vary from one denomination or sect to another. Your loved one’s favorite song might fit the service, like the popular Sinatra number “My Way” but a Rolling Stones piece might be saved for an informal gathering. A memorial service in a less religious location still requires respect for the occasion but allows a bit more leeway in your choices.

The location you choose might play a role. Is there a pipe organ or a grand piano? A choir? Inhouse musicians are accustomed to the instruments and the hall or sanctuary’s acoustics. Or you can choose to play prerecorded selections instead.

Another option is to ask a talented friend to sing or play a flute, violin or other instrument during the service. Choices today can be less formal than was previously the case, depending on the traditions of the location you have selected.

The music you provide both in the background and as part of the service sets the tone for your memorial. Your choices will honor your loved one and bring back memories, whether she was first violinist in a philharmonic orchestra or he was a lover of all things Broadway and a fixture in community theater productions.

Some mourners also choose to have music at a cemetery internment or ceremony. Military honors include “Taps”, the sad notes drifting over the graves. Even those without any Scottish background may opt for a bagpiper to play “Going Home,” from Dvorak's “New World Symphony.”

Your funeral director or clergy can get you started on choosing music for the services. Two sources for ideas are and Whatever you decide, do listen to all the songs to be sure that any lyrics are appropriate for their service. As you listen to your loved one’s favorite music, you will stir memories and the healing will begin.

Thanks for reading our blog. You can reach out to us, Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory anytime at 1-309-756-5513.