Chorister Life at Wells Cathedral School

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Chorister Life

For boys and girls aged 7-13


Our Choristers are an integral part of our School - in fact, they are the very reason Wells Cathedral School was founded in AD909. The Choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of Wells Cathedral, and our Choristers bring enjoyment to all who hear their uplifting, joyful and reflective singing. We recognise that life as a Chorister requires commitment from the Choristers and their families, but


the benefits are great and long lasting. Life for a Chorister centres around vocal practices before school, singing services in the stunning medieval Wells Cathedral and exciting special events, such as recordings, concerts and tours. All of the Choristers at Wells Cathedral attend Wells Cathedral School and can take advantage of the wide-range of exceptional activities and the comprehensive curriculum which the School has to offer.

Benefits Choristers have an exciting range of opportunities that make their time in the Choir the experience of a lifetime. Recent tour destinations include France, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and China. They have performed at the Royal Opera House and St James’s Palace, and on the ITV Pride of Britain Awards. Choristers enjoy meeting the Patron of the Chorister Trust, HRH the Countess of Wessex. They often broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and love seeing their names on CDs! The Chorister experience benefits them for the rest of their lives, both musically and in other ways. They develop a deep appreciation, love and understanding of music, becoming knowledgeable about composers, repertoire, and the quality of musical performances. Chorister life helps them to become self-reliant and self-disciplined. It teaches them to work as part of a team and to show initiative and leadership within a caring, close community that fosters growth and encourages fun and friendship across year groups.

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Choir Routine The Choristers meet at 7.45am every day to go to Wells Cathedral to rehearse. Their day at school is similar to that of other pupils, but they have timetabled music practice and lessons to allow them time to learn and practise an instrument. Our Choristers all look forward to Chorister Tea, which is a time for them to eat and enjoy being together as a group after school. The Boy and Girl Choristers rotate singing Evensong in the Cathedral at 5.15pm, and their Chorister day ends at 6.20pm. The Boy and Girl Choristers share the weekend duties, which include one service on Saturdays and three each Sunday. They also sing in the Cathedral for Easter and Christmas, but visiting choirs sing during school holidays, allowing Choristers the opportunity to relax with their families. A Chorister’s schedule is very busy, requires a lot of commitment and must come first over other activities, such as sports matches, but the rewards for such commitment are huge!


About the Choir

About the Choir

Wells Cathedral has one of the very best choirs in the world and has been hailed by an international jury from Gramophone magazine as “the greatest choir with children in the world.” The Choir consists of 18 Boy Choristers, 18 Girl Choristers, and 12 Vicars Choral (the men of the Choir). They sing a wide repertoire of music

ranging from the Renaissance period to the present day. Boys and girls remain in the Choir until the end of Year 9 unless a boy’s voice changes, which is sometimes earlier. The boys and girls usually sing separately with the Vicars Choral but occasionally come together as The Great Choir for major feasts, larger events and tours. 01749 834441


Sport options Girls’ Cricket - The teams play on a competitive circuit with access to all year round training to develop their skills.

Boys’ Football - Our team takes part in the incredibly competitive circuit in the independent school’s league over two terms. Our 1st XI are extremely strong with some exceptional players.

Cross Country - Our runners benefit from training in our beautiful surroundings in and around Wells. Two of our finest runners gained County selection in 2019, who will represent the school at the Regionals. Other options -Pupils can also

“Wonderfully blended, and must rank as one of the top cathedral sounds outside London.”

choose from athletics, swimming, boys’ tennis, running club, fencing, table tennis, air rifle club, judo and circuit training to name a few. Every term, day and boarding pupils are encouraged to take part in competitions for house trophies, and everyone has a healthy competitive spirit for the house championships.

- BBC Music Magazine 6

Pupil perspectives


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What I like most about sport at Wells is that the coaches are always stretching you, which rapidly developed both my ability and my confidence. They are really supportive but also encourage independence and help us to develop key leadership skills, which help both on and off the pitch. Every Wells team I have represented has been inclusive yet competitive, making every match enjoyable. This feeling of a sports community allows you to learn from your peers as well as coaches.

We have access to countless courses, adventure camps and qualifications to help further ourselves above and beyond the classroom. I have completed my DofE awards up to gold level, been abroad to Nepal and took part in Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training courses. Through these activities, I have made friends, learned new skills, grown in confidence, broadened my interests and improved my overall character. Ultimately, my experiences always got me back wanting to do more!

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Looking Forward After their time in the Choir ends, Choristers typically choose to stay on at Wells Cathedral School so they can maintain their friendships and educational opportunities. They can take advantage of our bespoke Vocal Programme, which is free (apart from any one-to-one vocal coaching in addition to the included 15 minute lesson) for our former Choristers. The Programme builds on the strengths, needs and aspirations of each singer, whilst aiding and inspiring development in a range of musical styles and genres. It encompasses both pastoral and musical elements, and helps make the transition to post-choristership as smooth as possible. This unique, specialist, sector-leading programme has attracted praise and attention from cathedral schools across the UK. For Choristers who wish to continue their musical journey, our world-class music programme offers countless opportunities across all disciplines. As one of just four British specialist music schools in the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme, a limited number of means-tested scholarships worth up to 100% are available for exceptionally talented candidates.


Choristers’ Perspectives “My chorister years helped me to decide that music is what I enjoy above all. I now realise how useful the discipline and skills acquired have been in all aspects of my life. With the wonderful international tours, recordings and exposure that Wells has to offer, it makes for a rounded and exciting childhood!” - Sophie Gallagher, Soprano “Hanging in my studio in Los Angeles is a picture of Wells Cathedral. It reminds me where my musical journey began and where I first fell in love with music. Without those wonderful years as a Chorister I am certain I would not be where I am today.” - David Buckley, Emmy-nominated film score composer “Being a Chorister was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have made. It has provided me with musical skills, knowledge and confidence and has influenced who I am today. A highlight was our tour to the Netherlands, where we gave a concert which was broadcast on television on Christmas Day.” - Astrid, Upper Sixth pupil

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Scholarships All Boy and Girl Choristers receive non means-tested Choral Scholarships worth 25% of school fees during their time in the Choir. Further means-tested financial awards (bursaries) may be available both from the School and from other trusts. Once pupils have finished their time in the Choir, they receive a discount worth 5% of their school fees for each year they were in the Choir, worth up to 20%, for the rest of their time at Wells. The School also offers a 10% remission on school fees for a pre-probationary year (see page 11).


Join Us We welcome auditions from pupils aged 7-13. Following auditions, successful pupils at Year 4+ entry are offered a full probationer’s place in the Choir. We offer successful Year 3 entry pupils a ‘pre-probationer’ year-long introductory programme designed to prepare them for full probationary choristership from Year 4 onwards; they do not undertake all of the usual Chorister duties, allowing them to adapt to the life of a Chorister more gradually. All candidates should have a clear voice, a good vocal range and a quick musical ear. They need to demonstrate a love of singing, as well as an eagerness to learn and the will to be committed. We are not looking for the finished article but for potential, and we have found that many parents and guardians are unaware of their child’s undeveloped singing talent! The first step is to arrange a pre-audition between September and Christmas to be considered for September entry the following year. Auditions and academic assessments for successful preaudition candidates are in January.

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Find Out More If you would like to find out more about Wells Cathedral School, please contact our admissions team on 01749 834441 / or visit our website