We don’t expect boys to come with enormous prior experience; we are looking for musical potential and a personality that suggests someone who is eager to contribute.
When we select choristers we look for boys we think will really thrive in this environment. We like boys to start in Year 4 and we are looking for potential, so it doesn’t matter if your son hasn’t done very much singing yet. We can provide all the training he needs. What is more important is that he has a clear, unforced voice, a good ‘ear’ and, most important of all perhaps, that he is up for a challenge and keen to give it his all.
The tests are not at all daunting. The first stage is for boys to come and sing informally to Mr Nethsingha, who is in charge of the music at Westminster Abbey. This can usually be arranged for a Saturday morning and it just takes about 15 minutes. All we ask is that boys come with a song to sing. It can be very simple and perhaps something that has been sung at school. It certainly doesn’t have to be anything complicated. This informal initial audition allows Mr Nethsingha to listen to the voice and it is a good opportunity for us to get to know one another. Mr Nethsingha will then advise whether it is sensible to go forward to a more extended voice trial.
The next stage is for boys to spend the day with us. During that assessment day they will do more singing, play their instruments (if they have started having instrumental lessons), do some simple tests in Mathematics and English and generally experience something of what it would like to be a chorister here, spending time with our current choristers. Details of the sorts of musical tests we do are detailed below.
Please contact Jennifer Benjamin at the school on 020 7654 4918 or email: Admissions for further details.
Boys should come prepared to sing a song of their own choice. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated. It could be a song you have sung at school or at church, or it could be a hymn or carol. The important thing is that you enjoy singing it and feel confident doing so. Please don’t forget to bring a copy for the accompanist too.
Mr Nethsingha will also ask you to do some aural tests such as clapping back a rhythm, picking notes out of a simple chord and singing back a melody played on the piano. If you play a musical instrument (it doesn’t matter if you haven’t started one yet), we would like to hear you play a short piece. If it’s an orchestral instrument you play don’t forget to bring a copy of the accompaniment.
Throughout the audition, we simply want to see what you can do. We will help you and Mr Nethsingha will be most interested in the way in which you follow advice. We certainly don’t expect you to be a genius at this stage.
You can download this information about the Chorister Auditions as a PDF.
Organist and Master of the Choristers, Westminster Abbey