Given their commitments in the College Choir, Choristers and Probationers are very rarely required to take part vocally in the musical life of the school, although they do contribute to the school’s annual Services in Preparation for Christmas in the College Chapel. Probationers will be encouraged to continue to sing in the Byron House Chamber Choir, which meets on a Monday between 4.15 and 5.15pm
Instrumentally, Choristers and Probationers are very busy and, in addition to solo performance and rehearsal, they are likely to be involved in a range of chamber groups, depending upon their chosen instrument/s. The school bears the cost of all ensemble and orchestral provision.
The timing of instrumental lessons and chamber group rehearsals is arranged to fit with the choristers’ schedules, and whenever possible, Choristers and Probationers will have instrumental lessons during break times to avoid clashes with timetabled lessons. Rather than have a fixed approach, we seek the best individual solution for each of the children which is directly linked to academic progress.
In a similar vein, it can be the case that, with the Headmaster’s approval, some particularly strong instrumentalists will be deemed to have ‘special musical needs’ which require them to be given additional practice time. With the parents’ approval, the Headmaster may, with the consent of the child’s senior school, allow the child to miss one or more timetabled subjects to allow for additional practice time.
All Choristers are given music Theory tuition, in small groups and are expected to achieve Grade 5 Music Theory in preparation for Grade 6 practical exams. The Choristers do not, in general, take the Associated Board singing examinations.
With regard to Music Scholarships, when a Chorister reaches the age of 10 or 11, and decisions with regard to future schooling have been considered, parents are encouraged to meet with the Headmaster to discuss their child's prospects. Once a shortlist of schools is decided, it is normal procedure during the 6th Form year for pre-auditions in the Michaelmas Term to precede Scholarship auditions in early Lent term. The Headmaster is in close contact with Senior Schools and will be able to advise and support parents throughout the process of finding a school that is right for their child.