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Choir school (boarding) parents: advice sought!

(28 Posts)
Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 15:47:42

We are currently looking into choir schools for DS (6), who is both extremely bright and extremely musical (takes after his mother, of course grin). We are looking at both day and boarding choir schools - and I would really, really like to know what it's like to be a chorister parent at either type of school. I've never really considered boarding (I never even had my children looked after by anyone else for a single day until they went to school!!), but it would be nice to know what kind of child thrives in that environment.

I don't want this to turn into a debate about "to board or not to board" (especially as I gather the MN community regularly gets exercised about boarding); I would just like to hear other parents' experiences (whether it has worked for them, and why)!

AMumInScotland Tue 23-Sep-08 16:12:30

No experience of boarding, but day choir schools are a lot of work for the whole family. Obviously very rewarding in lots of ways too grin but it is a big committment. If you have more than one child you also need to think about how to balance up things like holidays, as they will be working over Christmas and Easter.

On the plus side, it's like a big family in some ways, with a much closer relationship between the children than you tend to get in most schools. It's also the most amazing musical education, so if you have a musical child it's a great opportunity.

Do look at what happens to the children when they leave the choir though - what is the setup if their voice changes early? Is there a "usual" path on to another school?

Overall - wonderful in many ways, but also hard work. smile

CountessDracula Tue 23-Sep-08 16:13:44

beety might be able to help you

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 19:24:14

Thank you! I have wondered about what happens during the holidays. We also have a 4-y-o daughter (very distinctly non-musical!!), and we would have to balance our potential chorister's needs with her needs (which would mean we couldn't really be trogging up and down the motorway every weekend to visit DS at boarding school - this would obviously not be fair on DD!) By the same token, I can't imagine feeling able to leave a (by then) 7-y-o homebody boy to stew at boarding school for whole half-terms at a time! (Bear in mind our DS won't even go to play at friends' houses without me...)

He is very keen on choirs, and is obsessed with cathedrals (he dislikes TV, Star Wars, Power Rangers, football, cars, and anything else that "normal" boys like!!), so the choir school thing generally seems like a good idea, but I'm no expert!

AMumInScotland Tue 23-Sep-08 21:17:39

I can't help on the boarding side - it's not something we (or DS!) would ever have considered. To me, 7 just seems so young to even think about it, though I know that people do. We wouldn't have even thought about it if the school hadn't been within commuting range.

If your DS is musical, and likes the idea of choirs and cathedrals, it's certainly a way to get a very strong musical education. But it's not just choosing a school, it's really a whole way of life. You do end up spending a lot of time travelling, and waiting for your chorister, and sitting through services and concerts.

But I know DS wouldn't go back and change it, and it has set him up with a love of music and a lot of self-discipline.

RTKangaMummy Tue 23-Sep-08 21:36:50

My cousin sent her son to St George's in Windsor Castle

He boarded there

He is their own child

They went to the sunday service each week and also saw him on a wednesday evening iirc

They had christmas day at school and then celebrate it at hoiome on boxing day

BUT it is big committment from the family

RTKangaMummy Tue 23-Sep-08 21:37:47

ooooooooops i meant ONLY

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 21:38:49

Self-discipline: now we're talking!

I shall sign him up tomorrow.

Seriously, we as parents are happy to make the commitment to travelling and waiting and sitting through all the services and concerts if DS is really going to get something out of the whole experience (which is something of a turnaround, as I'm not sure I'd ever even stepped foot in a church until DS became obsessed with them!!) My DH was a boarder at a choir school; although he wasn't a chorister, he does have some idea of what's imvolved - though I always like to get the Mummy-perspective...

As I say, we're happy to sign up for the whole way of life (assuming, that is, he's offered a place!) I just don't want to neglect DD in the process.

(I'm quite sure my DS wouldn't go for boarding even if we were keen!! As I say, he won't even go to a friend's house for an hour after school. Instead he comes home to draw pictures of cathedrals...)

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 21:41:32

RTKanga - thank you. The Christmas thing bothers me about boarding. Christmas Day at school is sort of okay if you're local - but the idea of having a child away on Christmas Day (or of spending Christmas Day driving down the motorway to collect him from school) really does not appeal from any point of view... And if you're not near the boarding school, weekly visits aren't really an option. It does rather go against the grain (even if it seems like a good idea when he's being foul!!!)

Blandmum Tue 23-Sep-08 21:48:12

My kids go to a cathedra school but neither is in the choir because of the comittment that it would be for the whole family. For us it wouldn't have been the right decision, for others it is.

Positives, this is a musical education second to none.
they get the chance to tour
They have to be organised
There is a lot of socilising done amongs the choristers, and the school runs special things for them
The chance to take part in recordings etc
Wonderful music
longer holidays but see below

Negatives
Big comittment for the family, particularly round Christmas and easter.
You may not be able to get away over christmas and easter unless all your children have the same holidays because of the comittment of christmas and holy week.
Long days
Problems with having time for other interests and study.

None of the negatives are insurmountable, but it wasn't right for us

MadBadandDangeroustoKnow Tue 23-Sep-08 21:52:36

Godson who was a day pupil at a choir school was very happy there and it was a lot of fun for all the family. But they lived very nearby so there was comparatively zipping up and down the motorway (except to go to gigs).

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 21:56:13

Thanks, MB. Going away over Christmas and Easter isn't a problem, as we never go away (have already spent all our money on school fees!!) Having time for other interests probably wouldn't be an issue for DS, and music and cathedrals are his interests. I do wonder how he'd cope with the long days (and behaving himself for such long stretches), though...

I wouldn't consider it for DD (well, I'd like her to go to the same school, but she would be the least likely chorister in the world, bless her!)- but DS does seem to have the right kind of personality/interests so far as I can tell. I think we are going to give the voice trials a go, and take it from there. As I say, he may not even get in!

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 21:58:21

Thank you, MadBad. Day choir school may be the way to go (even though it would involve moving house, which fills me with some dread...)

MadBadandDangeroustoKnow Tue 23-Sep-08 22:11:22

Is he in a choir already? Our church takes juniors from (I think) 7.

<<free choral training emoticon>>

Dottoressa Tue 23-Sep-08 22:43:18

Madbad - no he isn't, but I shall investigate our local church to see at what age they can start singing there. He does have singing lessons (at his request), which he enjoys a lot!

MadBadandDangeroustoKnow Wed 24-Sep-08 10:14:57

Yes, joining a church choir may give him an (admittedly small) taste of what choir school might be like!

RTKangaMummy Wed 24-Sep-08 12:25:59

Let him watch BBC2 tonight

@ 7pm

smile

AMumInScotland Wed 24-Sep-08 12:50:47

I saw the end of that last night (we got it early up here!) - it looked very interesting.

Dottoressa Wed 24-Sep-08 13:52:54

Will do! Thanks, RTKanga. He's obsessed with the programme on cathedrals (the Jon Cannon one) that was on BBC3, so this will make his day. I shall set the DVD now!!

WendyWeber Wed 24-Sep-08 13:54:54

beety's are choristers, but they live in the city so don't board at all afaik (although when her first went they lived far enough away that it was worth him boarding a couple of nights a week, iirc)

Dottoressa Wed 24-Sep-08 13:54:57

Ah - just looked it up on google, and it looks as if this is actually the Jon Cannon one, but I shall record it anyway just in case (I think we missed the last five minutes the last time I recorded it!) [technophobe Mummy emoticon]

Dottoressa Wed 24-Sep-08 13:55:30

Beety, are you there? I'd love to hear more!

wangle99 Sun 28-Sep-08 21:17:16

DD goes to a chorister school but isn't a chorister as they only take boys (sadly).

Practise is every morning from 8-9am, and the choristers sing every night (apart from Thursday) at evensong. They also sing every weekend. They don't sing through the summer hols though. They also go away on various trips to sing in other places (which of course is more time away from home).

Alot of the choristers do board and DD also boards occasionally (her choice!) She is 11 btw. The boarding is amazing and if we could afford it I am sure she would board all week!

Like previous posters have said it is a big commitment and ideally if not boarding you need to be living near the school and the cathedral they will be singing at otherwise you will spend an AWFUL lot of time in your car and waiting to collect!

surreylady Sun 28-Sep-08 21:29:21

My DS goes to the school that has the Choristers for the local cathedral - he was invited to audition but did not want to largely because it would have meant him stopping his after school and sporting clubs. It is a big commitment but many manage it no problem and start school about 8 with later finishes on 3 nights a week plus weekend commitments. Not sure where you are but if it is near me happy to give details - it is a day school.

Beetroot Wed 01-Oct-08 20:03:31

Message withdrawn

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