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Cathedral school/voice trials advice please

(35 Posts)
MrsDenning Thu 15-Oct-09 09:23:34

My son is in year 1.

Can me advice on admission to a cathedral school.

Considering London schools/Canterbury.

Are the trials ususally when a child is in year 2 for entry in year 3?
A singing teacher recommendation would be appreciated. London/Kent

And any general advice.

doubleexpresso Thu 15-Oct-09 11:09:01

Think (but not entirely sure) that trials can be at any point, but best for Y3 entry as you said. Why not look at school websites / Canterbury Cathedral choirmaster's site. I'd imagine they have a FAQ section. Good luck.

MusterMix Thu 15-Oct-09 11:09:34

you want beetroot
she used ot post on here

Beetroot Thu 15-Oct-09 12:02:44

Trials are going form year 3 into year 4 but can be any time up to year 9 sometimes.
Loads of great school
st Pauls
get a good singing teahcer who does this sort of thing so knows what things they will ask for in auditions.

I have 3 choristers btw

Beetroot Thu 15-Oct-09 12:05:45

Year 3 is too early as it is a huge committment. They rhearse every moneing before schoool, then afterschool most days until 630.
saturdays, sundays, chistmas, easter etc.
is fab but bloody hard work

gingertoo Thu 15-Oct-09 12:12:16

Round here the school will audition during yr2 for entry at the start of yr3 although that is the very youngest they will accept - many children join later.

Beetroot Thu 15-Oct-09 12:19:14

I think that is very unusual
Is this one of the big choir schools?

Bramshott Thu 15-Oct-09 12:22:37

I think kids are normally 7 or 8 when they audition. The audition looks for general musicality and ability to learn, rather than a polished singing performance.

Most Directors of Music will see you and your son for a chat, or an informal listen in advance, so I would work out where you'd like him to go, and get in touch.

Would he board? They do at most of them I think, but there are also options for day boys at some cathedrals.

IdrisTheDragon Thu 15-Oct-09 12:29:18

DH was a chorister as was his brother. DH was 8 when they moved to Oxford and so I think started being a chorister at the beginning of year 4. Possibly his brother started when he was year 3.

They didn't board as they were in one of the college choirs. Not sure what it is like in the other ones there, or in Cambridge. I know that Liverpool cathedral doesn't have a school where all choristers go which I think must make it harder work for the parents (they can live all over Merseyside and sing in the choir).

DH's parents have said it was hard work being chorister parents, but overall it was worth it.

Beetroot Thu 15-Oct-09 12:32:16

It is amazingly hard work being a chorister paretn if you don't live near the school.
But having had one go through it I wouldn't change it for the world.
They get very tired, they get moddy and miss out on some socilising, parties , sport etc.]

MrsDenning Thu 15-Oct-09 13:50:11

Thanks all.
Beetroot would you be able to give me any pointers as to how to find a good teacher or a recommendation?

Beetroot Thu 15-Oct-09 14:09:43

Ask the director of music at your local choir school. They will have recomendations.

Are you thinking for boarding?

You can email meon if you want tto discuss in more details

MrsDenning Thu 15-Oct-09 14:53:46

Yes we are considering boarding. I will email you. Thanks

missmem Thu 15-Oct-09 22:38:25

My friend's son was a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral and she has told me shocking stories so stay well clear! They are one of the only ones that audition in Yr 2 for Yr 3 but most audition in Yr 3 for Yr 4. There is a very good reason for that and Year 3 is too young.

As for singing teachers you can't really prepare. The organist know what they are looking for and your son has got it or they haven't. The best thing you can do is get him to start playing an instrument and they usually have to brighter than average academically so you could focus on this area too.

MrsDenning Fri 16-Oct-09 14:53:24

Missmen can you say a bit more/cat me.

He is a bright child and learning the violin so perhaps you are right about the voice.


campion Fri 16-Oct-09 20:55:22

What missmen says. He needs musicality / musical ability and some potential in the voice, otherwise you'll be wasting his time but he doesn't need a singing teacher. They learn how to sing when they join!

Are you sure about boarding - he's only six so he can't say? It's a big consideration and doesn't suit all children, musical or not.

Why are you only considering London or Canterbury if you want him to board? ( Nosey wink)

MrsDenning Sat 17-Oct-09 13:38:56

Well want to be able to visit as much as possible hence location. Dh and I both work in the City and live in Kent so I am imagining popping in when I can.

I want what is best for him and no question of boarding until he is older and only if he wants to.

VictoriousSponge Sat 17-Oct-09 13:51:49

god thats tragic.
keep him at home
oyu soudn like you are housing a dog

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Sat 17-Oct-09 14:07:53

My DCs used to attend a cathedral school (not choristers) , and from what I recall the choir master preferred an un-trained voice as they can mould it as they wish and don't have to undo anyone else's mistakes or bad habits.

ahola Sun 18-Oct-09 00:12:19

I think you would find it incredibly difficult to be a chorister parent and work full time tbh. The hours the children put in are astonishing, and parents spend a lot of time at the cathedral with the children.

campion Sun 18-Oct-09 01:25:41

If the child's boarding then parents aren't around for the day to day stuff, so it wouldn't be a problem.If non-boarding then there's often a system of mutual lift sharing which can ease the burden a bit ( though obviously it depends how practical that is individually)but it is a big commitment for a family.

Now that there are girl choristers in many cathedrals the overall burden on the boys is less, which builds a bit more flexibility into their lives, especially if they are non-boarders.

MrsDenning Sun 18-Oct-09 09:35:33

I don't work full time but I might do later on. At this stage I am just looking into it, ds may not want to do it! But thanks for all the tips and pointers, been very helpful.

grownupbabes Mon 19-Oct-09 14:29:04

Both my sons were choristers - boarding. They work incredibly hard but the rewards are enormous. The rewards are enormous for the parents as well, as you are pretty much guaranteed that a chorister will have what it takes to win a music scholarship to an independent secondary school, with up to 100% remission on fees, depending on your income.

But having put 2 boys through the system as choristers, and as a professional musician myself, I would say DO NOT send your child to a singing teacher first. It is the Organist's job to train the voice of the chorister. At the audition they are looking for a "true" voice, ie able to sing in tune. Any old song will do - one of mine sang "Little Donkey"!!! The most important thing you can do is help develop the ear,eg play 2 notes at the same time and say, "sing the bottom note" or "sing the top note". That kind of thing. They should also have started on an instrument and be able to play a little tune on that. Basically just exhibiting general musicianship.

I would say though, as a parent, send them to a choir school that is not too far from your home, as it is really hard work; you need to be there A LOT. And you will want to be there a lot, to go to evensong, concerts and whatever else they have on.

By the way, yr3 (age 8-9) is the entry point for pretty much EVERY cathdedral/college choir.

AngelicVoice Mon 19-Oct-09 23:59:12

Year 3 is not the normal entry age. Year 3 is the normal auditioning age for entry into Year 4.

Mrs Denning, given your lifestyle St Paul's Cathedral would be the best option as you can visit after work every night but I cannot say enough how awful it is and that is from the horses mouth and the experience very recent! Westminster Abbey is a wonderful school but it is more closed off than St P's as you cannot visit every night - pastoral care is very good though.

It is a busy and tiring lifestyle but if your son is passinate about singing then it is totally worth it. It has not put my DC off and he has been successful at another choir school.

campion Tue 20-Oct-09 00:43:30

I'm all agog, AngelicVoice, but I guess you're not telling.

I was more than shock shock about the former St P's housemaster who is currently doing time for criminal matters which occurred there in the 80s but I think most places have significantly woken up to such possibilities. Well, I hope they all have.

But some establishments place a large workload on choristers who must never get a moment to themselves.

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