Becoming a Chorister
There are up to 18 boy Choristers and up to 18 girl Choristers in Exeter Cathedral Choir, including a small number of Probationers (learner Choristers). They enjoy the most remarkable, fulfilling and rewarding musical training, alongside a broad and balanced all-round education at Exeter Cathedral School. For boys and girls who love singing, a Choristership is a very special opportunity to develop all-round musical talent in the context of service in the Cathedral.
The optimum age for children to be selected to join the Cathedral Choir is in Year 4 (at the age of 8+) or at the beginning of Year 5. Although in exceptional cases there can be flexibility, the range of ages for children becoming Choristers is usually between 7 and 10 years on entry.
New entrants to the Choir are admitted as Probationers: they receive specialist musical and voice training, attend Cathedral services and occasionally sing with the Cathedral Choir. The length of the probationary period is not fixed; it varies according to the age of the Probationer and how quickly he or she learns the repertoire. When they are ready, Probationers are installed as full Choristers.
All Choristerships are offered on the understanding that children remain in the Choir and at the School until they reach the normal age of leaving – the end of Year 8 (13+). In addition to the Cathedral Scholarship, each Chorister/Probationer receives free instrumental tuition on one musical instrument and some voice coaching.
Some Choristers choose to board at the School. Of these, some are full boarders and some are weekly or flexi-boarders. Indeed, a number of children board for perhaps only one or two regular nights a week to help with travel arrangements. It is also great fun, and there is a warm family feel and a great sense of community. The House staff, led by the School’s Head of Boarding, work very closely with parents/guardians to ensure they can see their children as frequently as they wish whenever they do not have School or Choir commitments. For those children living fairly locally, being a day Chorister works equally well.
At the age of thirteen, pupils move on to a range of leading senior schools. The School has a proven record of scholarship success to many senior schools and a number of senior staff are in place to advise families on the next steps. In 2018, 73% of the Year 8 leavers secured a scholarship at their first-choice senior school. Often, Exeter Cathedral Choristers receive offers of music scholarships/awards to a number of top senior schools.