Thinking of being a choral scholar?

 A Choral Scholarship provides an exciting musical experience, and vocal and choral training to the highest standard. Here's the lowdown on what it involves and how to prepare...

What is a choral scholar?

Choral scholarships are awards given to talented singers who wish to develop their choral singing as part of a chapel, cathedral or major church choir, usually in return for a small financial reward, subsidised meals and singing lessons.

Scholars Evensong

During the Covid-19 lockdown, a group of choral scholars from the South West of the UK produced a virtual Evensong. Here is a taster of their very accomplished performance.

You can watch the complete Evensong here

University College Oxford choral scholars

Where can I sing? 

Choral Scholarships are available at many universities to sing in their local cathedrals or university chapels, including Durham, Exeter, Bristol, Newcastle, Leicester, Canterbury Christ Church, Bath and York. See this link to the RSCM website for a full but not exhaustive list.

Oxford and Cambridge Colleges also offer choral awards for students to sing in their Chapel Choirs, and the responsibilities of choral award-holders vary greatly. Many of the choirs are professionally directed, and others are led by the college organ scholars. In addition, the set-up of the choirs vary - some have boy or girl choristers singing the top line, whilst others have adult sopranos. Because each place is different it is best to look at the different requirements to see how they suit you.  

University College Oxford Choral Scholars

How to apply

Fill in a simple form on the relevant website, and prepare yourself for an audition. Most people feel nervous at this stage, but the directors of music are aware of this – just give it your best shot!

If you are not applying for the highest profile cathedrals or Oxbridge colleges, then it is your vocal quality and potential for progressing that is being assessed, as well as whether you would be a person with whom others can enjoy performing. Auditions generally follow a standard formula: a warm-up and sight-singing tests, one or two prepared pieces and perhaps a psalm. Of course, this isn’t the end – you’ve still got to achieve the right grades to get into the university!

Meet some choral scholars

We have interviewed some choral scholars from different cathedrals and universities in the UK.

Read their stories

Choral Scholars from St Martin in the Fields

Time commitment

The commitments for choral scholars vary widely between institutions, since some choirs are more active than others. Cathedrals and some University or College Chapels have 4-5 services a week, plus rehearsal time, and require their choirs to sing at Christmas and Easter. At other colleges the choirs sing between one and four services per week during term. 

Because each college and university is different it is best to look at each place’s requirements to see how they suit you. Check carefully, and apply early!

Find out more

The Rodolfus Foundation runs useful courses for prospective choral scholars covering all the necessary skills required, with bursaries available.

There is a lot more information about becoming a choral scholar on cathedrals' websites.

Search our database of cathedrals

 

Or you can visit the websites of universities which offer choral scholarships

Oxford choral scholarships

Cambridge choral scholarships