Before becoming a funeral director with Full Circle Funerals in Harrogate, David Moon was a music teacher in South West London. He moved to Yorkshire with his wife and two young children to be closer to family. We caught up with him to find out more about his career change and discovered that there are more similarities between the two roles than you might think.
Has music always been a big part of your life?
I’ve been drawn to all things musical from a young age but it’s only been in later life that I’ve realised how much it has been my ‘soul food’. I have turned to music as a way to manage stress, practice mindfulness, gain support from others and to also celebrate key achievements.
When did you first notice a big connection between music and wellbeing?
During my music degree I worked as a freelance performer and guitar tutor. I took a personal interest in bringing live music into settings that offer a welcome distraction and can provide a positive impact to wellbeing. I would regularly perform solo guitar and sing on mental health, elderly and amputee wards at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton. Music’s benefit to recovery, mood and wellbeing made me feel like I was giving more than just a performance, I was connecting with people.
Did you learn anything about music from your students?
They taught me a lot about current music and artists and in doing that, they showed me how important music is as an outlet. I supported students to compose their own music and the lyrics were often very personal and sometimes quite dark as they channelled their emotions through music. I felt very privileged that they felt able to share such deeply personal moments and it helped me gain a real understanding of how music and lyrics can be a powerful vessel of expression.
Of all the possible career changes you could have opted for – why funerals?
It was quite by chance! My sister lives locally and spotted an advert in the window of Full Circle Funerals on Skipton Road. She knew that the part of my job I enjoyed most was having a positive impact on people’s lives, so although it might seem like a big change there are a lot of similarities.
Did you have any doubts?
I’ve faced challenging situations as a teacher and supported students and families through difficult conversations but I did wonder if I would know the right thing to say to people who have been recently bereaved. I now realise it’s all about trusting myself to navigate the conversation and my past experiences in school have proved to be very helpful.
Are there any parts of the job you have found difficult?
I come from a family of nurses so caring is all around me. That’s given me a really good grounding in lots of ways and has helped me with some of the more physical aspects of the job. I’m very mindful of being gentle and thoughful when carrying out my work.
Is there anything that has surprised you?
Full Circle Funerals does something called reflective practice where we talk through our work to reflect on what went well and whether there are things we could learn to improve the experience for us and the people we support in the future. There are parts of the job that can be challenging and this process is incredibly helpful. I didn’t expect to feel so supported. On top of that, I find the admin and systems that the company has in place very reassuring, giving me confidence that I’m following the right procedures.
How do you feel now you’ve made the move to a new career?
If you had told me last year that my next career move would be into the funeral industry, I would not have believed it. As a high school music teacher for the last 10 years I feel extremely privileged to have shared in some of the most significant moments in the lives of the young people I have taught.
Working as a funeral director means I am offering support and guidance to people during what can be a very difficult time. The time I have spent with families of school age children has afforded me some of the transferable skills which I have benefited from during my time at Full Circle. As a former Head of Performing Arts, I am no stranger to organising and facilitating community events and concerts and should a family have a strong interest in how music is incorporated into the funeral, I am confident I can enable them to make positive and meaningful choices.
David Moon is now a funeral director at Full Circle Funerals – a Modern, Independent funeral director in Harrogate.