To be a chorister of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral is to be part of a unique tradition, that stems back to 1880.Around 18 boys and girls form part of the award-winning Choir; each is trained as a professional singer and over their five year tenure will experience many opportunities that range from UK and international tours to BBC broadcasts, professional recordings and participation in the Edinburgh International Arts Festival. Each child receives an excellent academic education at St Mary’s Music School and many go on to be awarded music scholarships at other schools.
How would my child benefit from being a chorister?
Children will learn high levels of musicianship and performance at an early age but they will also develop important life and social skills as well as friendships for life.
Who can apply to be a chorister?
Any child with a passion for singing who lives in commuting distance of Edinburgh is encouraged to apply. They should ideally have knowledge of a musical instrument.
How long is the chorister programme?
Choristers follow a five-year programme from the ages of 8/9 to 13, (P5 to S2) however children are encouraged to apply earlier so they can benefit from a probationary year.
Does my child have to commit to the full five years?
Yes. The chorister programme is intensive and as a member of a professional choir each child plays an important role that develops with age and experience. In their final year they will become a Senior Chorister which gives further opportunities for solo singing.
Does my child need to be religious?
No. The Chorister programme is non-denominational and we accept applications from children of all faiths and none.
What is the time commitment out of school hours?
Choristers sing at four weekday services (5.30pm to 6.15pm) and at two services on Sundays. Often parents join together to share drop offs and pick-ups.
What happens at the end of the five years?
Your child can either apply to another school or they can audition for an instrumental place at St Mary’s Music School.
How much does it cost?
We do everything we can to ensure that financial means are not a barrier to entry. How much you pay depends on your household income. Bursaries and financial support are available and we discuss this with you when you apply.
“I owe my entire career to my experience as a chorister. It was where I learnt to perform, where I learnt to use the full range of my voice; where I learnt to listen, where I learnt to write comedy, where I learnt to carry a pencil at all times – but most importantly it was where I learnt the wonderful truth that something exceptional, something as beautiful as anything anywhere, can be created just by you and your friends.”
– Alexander Armstrong, Broadcaster, Presenter and Comedian
“The experience, and the friendships and the professional skills it taught me are invaluable. It’s a fantastic way to live and to spend those years as a child.”
– Judy Brown, professional singer
“They need to be dedicated and enjoy standing up and performing – it’s not about showing off though, it’s a certain type of confidence. There are massive opportunities to develop musicianship and it’s a wonderful environment – the Cathedral offers the best type of musical training for sight-singing that you’ll get anywhere.”
– Tracey Thomson, parent
“I love being a chorister. The feeling when you walk into the Cathedral is incredible and everyone is so friendly. It’s a great experience. “
– Jake, chorister
Take part in a Be a Chorister Afternoon.
We hold taster afternoons twice a year when your child can experience what it is like to be a chorister, As a parent or guardian it’s also an ideal time to hear from staff of the Cathedral and St Mary’s Music School.
Get in touch for an informal chat
There is lots of information on our website about being a chorister but it often helps to speak to someone in person. If you’d like to arrange an informal chat contact firstname.lastname@example.org..uk
Attend a St Mary’s Music School Open Day
Our Open Days are primarily focused on instrumental applicants who can join the school from P7 however they provide a good overview of what it’s like to be a pupil at Scotland’s only specialist music school and you are most welcome to attend.
See and hear our Choristers in action
There is nothing better than hearing our choristers sing. All Cathedral services are open to the public and we recommend attending on a Thursday at 5.30pm or a Sunday at ?. You can also listen to recordings of our choristers on our Youtube channel or attend a St Mary’s Music School concert.
To receive information about concerts, taster days and open days, visit our website or register your details at www.stmarysmusicschool.co.uk/sign-up
The Admissions Office
St Mary’s Music School, Coates Hall
25 Grosvenor Crescent , Edinburgh EH12 5EL
Tel 0131 5387766