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September 5, 2016  TAGS:  MUSIC  RESOURCES  INSPIRATION

Musical Choices from the Heart

Musican Choices From The Heart | Ceremony Music Inspiration | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Letter10 Creative

I still often cry at weddings. This may sound like a strange admission from someone who plays music at weddings all the time. Especially a flutist - no one wants a flutist sputtering and squeaking into their instrument during their processional. Rest assured, I have learned to turn off the faucet at the right times, but, well, I do often cry at weddings. 

It doesn’t seem to matter for me whether a couple has chosen Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for processional or “When You Wish Upon a Star;’ ”Adagio” from Handel’s G major flute sonata  or the Celtic tune “Fannie Power;” Schubert’s “Ave Maria”  or Journey’s “Don’t’ Stop Believin;”  Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” or “Laendler” from Sound of Music; the Filipino popular song  “Ikaw” or the Jewish traditional song “Dodi Li” (my beloved) or the Broadway hit “’Til There Was You.” When I know the choice of ceremony music is heartfelt and reflects either the bride or groom’s love of tradition or their desire to be unique in a particular way, especially when I know that a particular tune brings tears to their eyes - I do frequently get caught up in the joy and emotion of the moment.

Your wedding day is, in the very best sense, all about you. It’s a time when you  choose from a palette of colors, sounds, views and words that reflect you - as individuals and as a couple. If each choice, as you make it, stirs your soul, helps you to understand and respect one another better - your similarities and your differences - and brings on the joy or the tears or the strength or the vulnerability that you seek, that will be felt by others present at your wedding. 

This past year, I met with a wedding couple and as I was playing through a few possible processionals, the bride-to-be told me “That one made me cry!” Well, I played a few more possibilities just to be sure, but it seemed clear that “Sheep May Safely Graze” was the one that was meant to be the wedding party processional for her wedding, where her daughter would be the junior maid of honor. As I was playing “Sheep May Safely Graze” as a duo with my own violinist daughter months later at this wedding, and the bride’s daughter was walking up the aisle, well, yes, I held off the tears for the time being, but only due to years of experience. I’ve played “Sheep May Safely Graze” many times, as well as the Pachelbel Canon that followed for the Bride’s processional, but in this moment, knowing how the bride felt about these pieces, I felt the music with a fresh perspective, energy and emotion.

Some couples know exactly what they want, while some have no idea. Sometimes the process can feel easy, sometimes overwhelming. As you can imagine from the list of processionals mentioned above (all from weddings I’ve played in one calendar year), the options for wedding music can be wide open and virtually limitless. If you’re overwhelmed with the decisions about wedding music, first speak with the professional musician you’ve chosen for your wedding. They may be able to make some suggestions that strike a chord for you, and that they know sound great with the instruments you’ve chosen. There are also numerous lists of options available online - a google search may make the difference between not knowing where to start and - “aha! That’s perfect!” And of course there’s YouTube. Your professional may be able to send you links to videos to give you some ideas, or you can browse yourself.

Your first step: know that your options are very wide, but can be very simple if you know what clicks for you (bearing in mind that in some cases there may be an extra charge for special sheet music purchases or arrangements, or some options may be less suitable for the instrument combination you may have already chosen). Your second step: find the music that makes your heart skip a beat or that brings you joy or sighs or tears - or whatever emotion you wish for your day.  The loved ones who gather with you on your day will feel it too.

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She maintains a private flute studio for in Montpelier, Vermont and also teaches online to students worldwide.