There are 44 choir schools in the UK attached to, and providing choristers for, churches, cathedrals and college chapels. They educate over 21,000 boys and girls, of which some 1200 are choristers. While some teach up to A-level, the majority are prep schools. An increasing number accept girls – six have a separate girls’ choir, although only two (in Edinburgh and Manchester) have mixed choirs.
Being a chorister will suit children who are good at singing and (crucially) enjoy it enough to spend a lot of their time singing in church services and concerts. It usually means passing a voice trial sometime between the ages of 7 and 10.
There is often money to help with all, or a part of, a chorister’s school fees (eg from the cathedral or chapel foundations themselves or the government choir schools scholarship scheme). The Choir Schools Association (CSA) can help those who cannot afford the choristers’ school fees and has a list of choir schools and information such as voice trial dates and ages (www.choirschools.org.uk or tel 01359 221 333).