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Magdalen College junior chorister, is it the right choice?

(25 Posts)
xing Fri 19-Oct-12 23:34:21

DS 6, sings well, and plays piano to 3/4 grade level, does well in English and Math.

He is introverted, sensitive and well behavioured. Teachers always feedback being "delighted" to have him in the class. And he is popular with boys and girls. He is currently in a small pre-prep.

Would like to consider Magdalen College junior choriste as it provides substantial scholarship and the school is a well known school.

However wonder if DS can cope with such a busy schedule and highly competitive boys only environment.

Does anyone have any experience/advise would like to share? It is really appreciated.

1805 Fri 19-Oct-12 23:50:57

Also consider Christ Church CS.
Only know that boys are worked HARD at MCS. Long days I think for the choristers.
I'm sure others will be able to give more insight....

EBDTeacher Sat 20-Oct-12 07:21:55

I think people will come along with some opinions on this. I have no experience myself (think colleger has done the chorister thing, and know bisjo has just started her son at St George's Windsor and seems pleased with it. Maybe pm her).

On previous threads ChCh has been slammed and people have said very complimentary things about New College School.

I think you have to be pretty hard nosed to cope with MCS and there have been some rumblings that things are not all well at the Junior School.

claraschu Sat 20-Oct-12 07:38:26

We didn't have a great experience, though the situation has changed since my son was a chorister. I will PM you so we can talk, if that would be helpful.

1805 Sat 20-Oct-12 13:39:38

Dragon might be interested in him as he is obviously very musical. Are you within hitting distance of Purcell School??

difficultpickle Sat 20-Oct-12 15:26:17

Grade 3/4 at aged 6? I think his talent would be wasted as a chorister.

Ds (8, year 4) has just started as a chorister but not at MCS. He has choir practice every morning before school and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. He does Evensong twice a week. He is learning two instruments and also has music theory lessons. Plus of course school work.

I was warned that his schooling may suffer because of the chorister commitments. There is certainly an academic pressure to ensure that he keeps up with his school and homework. Music practice is also had to fit in with everything else as choir takes priority.

Ds loves it so far and has started boarding two nights a week. He was very tired early in term but seems okay now. I think the chapel and school are keen to ensure the probationers have a pretty gentle introduction to chorister life (they have no weekend commitments until year 5) and gradually build up.

We looked at Christ Church but it would have meant weekly boarding from the start and I just thought 8 was too young for that. Also they sing on Saturdays which means they only get out of school for a couple of hours Saturdays and Sunday afternoons once they are full choristers. Academically it is stronger than where ds is but I wanted a more normal life for ds (no singing on a Saturday, other than very occasionally). It seemed like a very nice and friendly school when we visited and if ds hadn't got his first choice we would have seriously considered it.

The one comment that was made to me when I was thinking about letting ds be a chorister was to consider it like a county level sport. The commitment is the same - 20 hours a week singing. If your ds is absolutely passionate about singing then go for it. If he is more interested in piano then I wouldn't follow the chorister route. Ds has always sung, all the time, everywhere we go. I think he doesn't even notice when he is singing - he could be on his bike, skiing, playing football etc.

azazello Sat 20-Oct-12 15:34:07

Both my brothers were choristers at MCS and my parents are still quite involved.

Pros: good scholarship, good education, only sing university terms so no disruption to Christmas, new and pretty on the ball choir master so current choristers have confirmed he notices bullying and deals with it.

Cons: don't get the same high profile recording, concerts and tours as New college; school is very pressured and not many allowances made for the choir commitments

If he is very academic as well as musical he will probably be fine. Otherwise, New or poss Chch might be better. New is a day school which helps.

Toughasoldboots Sat 20-Oct-12 15:36:49

I had a ds at NCS, not as a chorister though, very happy with it as a school generally.

sicutlilium Sat 20-Oct-12 20:58:43

Dan Hyde, the new Informator, is doing great things with Magdalen Choir. One thing to consider: there is no automatic transfer at 11 at MCS, and choristers have to be up to MCS's very high academic standards, otherwise they have to leave the choir as well as the school.

Colleger Sat 20-Oct-12 23:02:45

I have heard some very bad things about CC so would avoid it. Being a chorister will enhance his music and they won't offer him a chorister place if he is a borderline candidate. If he gets it then I would accept although New College Oxford would be my choir of choice.

xing Sun 21-Oct-12 21:32:33

Everyone, many thanks for your response. Looks like I need to do more thinking and researching.

Thanks again.

Musomathsci Sun 21-Oct-12 21:34:36

"Grade 3/4 at aged 6? I think his talent would be wasted as a chorister"

What nonsense.

difficultpickle Sun 21-Oct-12 21:42:10

Just my opinion and based on the knowledge that choristers do not get much time for instrument practice in packed schedule. Of course I stand to be completely corrected on the assumption that an hour and a bit a week practising is sufficient to be a virtuoso!

middleclassonbursary Mon 22-Oct-12 08:09:42

I know it very well IMO it's not the right place for a "intoverted sensitive" child. Its very very pushy (as are the parents in fact they are mega pushy) petty, at times extra curricular opportunities are very limited when compared to others with similar academic reputations and I'm wasn't overly impressed with the standard of pastoral care.
On the other hand it's academic reputation is excellent the grounds are nice and quite large bearing in mind it's location (parking is a nightmare) and there are some very smart new buildings. They do offer generous bursaries.

difficultpickle Mon 22-Oct-12 10:04:23

Parking is a nightmare at CC too. When we visited we parked on the playground (as directed by someone from the school when we arrived) We then got shouted at by a staff member as we had blocked her in (we had been told to). Fortunately the rest of the staff we met there were lovely. I guess that is the problem of being in the centre of Oxford.

Pythonesque Wed 12-Dec-12 15:02:30

I realise this is a "buried" thread but having stumbled across it ... Sounds like your son could well enjoy being a chorister, but make sure it's what he's interested in. Having a son in the "pre-probationer" group at New College I just wanted to warn you that their auditions are in January of year 2, rather than year 3 as many other places are. So if I'm right you need to look at it right now. We're very happy with New College although yes it is proving harder to fit in music practice in prep! I think he gets more practice in than his big sister though - she's now a boarding chorister and has half an hour a day to practice 2 instruments.

We didn't look closely at Magdalen in the end, but would have done so had he not got into New College - he was very clear that he wanted to be a chorister above all else. I wasn't keen on the boarding at Christchurch, but again we would have looked at it properly if necessary. For us the big advantage of New College is not having the Christmas commitments - we will still be able to have a family Christmas despite having 2 choristers in different places.

Amber2 Wed 12-Dec-12 20:56:00

I am latching onto thread not because I have a chorister but of interest in MCS for DS at 13+...curious how the suggested "mega pushiness" manifests itself ...and if there what the balance of extra curricular is with there any advantage of going at 11+ as opposed to 13+ ?

Pythonesque Thu 13-Dec-12 09:40:46

I think MCS has significant intakes at both 11+ and 13+, I presume mainly from the state sector at 11+ and independents at 13+. I think you just have to look at what your son is getting where they are as well as practical issues (scholarships, transport, independence ...)

Amber2 Thu 13-Dec-12 10:42:49

Sorry - didn't mean to hijack the thread My son is doing very well academically where he is, in year 5 English, Science ad Maths in particular, albeit in a non selective large prep but he is not as independent or self organized as I would like so we will have to see how he matures and how that important element of independence develops by 13+
..for that reason, I am unsure about boarding or day, so looking at various schools and will likely register for both boarding and day schools, including RGS, Guildford and MCS as well as Abingdon. Abingdon and MCS would likely mean a move unless he can manage a long bus journey, whereas Guildford is feasible by train...all considerations assuming he is smart enough to get in to any of them. The competition for these schools is fierce and we are not doing any private tuition other than DIY (bond books) as such, solely because the DIY is achieving very good results for him (albeit I need to spend more time!)

mummytime Thu 13-Dec-12 11:37:41

Amber2 have you visited the schools?
To be frank if he has a good chance to get into RGS I would probably just settle for that, as it is a very good school with the huge advantage of being a day school.

Honestyisbest Thu 13-Dec-12 16:23:33

MCS is a wonderful school. My son is very happy there. In catchment for Royal Grammar Sch High Wycombe, but there is no comparison. Are you guys referring to a different RGS?

mummytime Thu 13-Dec-12 17:24:10

RGS referred to is Royal Grammar Schools Guildford, a very different school but I wouldn't move for MGS if I had a son likely to get into RGS. (If I was moving to Oxford of course I might well decided on MCS.)

Amber2 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:36:56

Yes RGS Guildford. We have only visited MCS but very impressed. But looking at RGS it is academically very impressive also and just realized that train journey would be little over 30 minutes so feasible. I don't know enough to compare respective ethos of the schools however but I imagine both are high pressured.

Amber2 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:54:05


Yes exactly what I am pondering if DS can get into RGS and it compares I think to MCS is it worth the cost and hassle of moving (though there are some lovely parts around Oxford) or a much longer commute for DS by bus to MCS. I was just wondering if both schools are on a par and it looks like they are. Again while DS is very able at certain subjects he is not as independent as I would like so day may suit more than boarding.

mummytime Sun 16-Dec-12 05:23:59

I would visit RGS, and see what you think. I wouldn't personally call it especially pressured, but then you have to be very bright to get in. A lot of boys do commute quite some way.

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