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What parents say

Vicky writes ...

Hugh started as a chorister at Chichester Cathedral when he had just turned 8 and due to the fact we lived almost 50 miles away at the time, became almost a full boarder from the day he started. This allowed Hugh to throw himself into life both in the boarding house at the Prebendal School but also as a chorister, and he quickly grew to love the daily rhythm of services. Being away from home and suddenly starting life as a chorister was very different from his previous years at the local primary school but Hugh never looked back and loved the opportunities life as a chorister provides.

Being a chorister requires a certain amount of self-organisation as life is very busy, but despite his initial lack of organisation, Hugh began to flourish both academically and musically. His love of singing grew and he particularly enjoyed the additional events such as choir tours, concerts, radio broadcasts and even staying at school for what is known as 'choir week' at Christmas and Easter. These weeks are great fun with lots of rehearsing and services but plenty of fun organised activities, plus time to chill out with films and a game of pool or table tennis.

Hugh left the Prebendal School in July 2015 with a music scholarship to Ardingly College and with a huge amount of music experience that he would never have achieved without being a chorister. He still misses both the school and the choir but the confidence and professionalism that the choir has given him will stay with him for a very long time. 

Choristers rehearsing
Choristers rehearsing

Fiona writes ...

It had never occurred to us that either of our boys had a musical fibre in them, and so when the eldest begged to try for Chichester Cathedral Choir and got in, we were astonished. Our only experience of the life of a chorister had been that of an elder brother several decades before, and we really did not know what to expect. Our second son then decided that being in the cathedral choir was just something that one did, and so we were equally amazed when he too passed his voice trial. There then followed a very happy 6 or 7 year association with the musical and liturgical life the cathedral.

Without reservation, that association was a revelation and a delight. The boys were both perfectly happy after a few minor teething problems, and they relished the hard work involved at a time when they sang eight services a week and for both weekends either side of half-term. They both revelled in the boarding, even though we lived very close, and because of the enormous amount of fun they had, plus the feeling that they had a second family within the school, they often preferred to stay in school rather than come home on the occasions that that was possible, especially in 'choir holidays'.

The commitment from our family was enormous and we all missed having the boys at home very much indeed, but we saw them frequently from afar, either in the stalls or on the football pitch. However, retrospectively, there is absolutely no doubt that what we gained as a family from the cathedral community, and what they gained individually from the extraordinary training they received, far exceeded any sacrifices that we felt the rest of the family made.

We can only recommend it as a truly exceptional start in life, and we have no regrets, only grateful thanks that they had the opportunity.

Christine writes ...

We realised that our son could sing when we were on holiday and he was about six years old. He was singing along to a children's CD in the car. I made a mental note to contact one of our local cathedrals when we got back home, which I did. When we were told that yes, he could sing and had potential, it was wonderful but also quite daunting. I have always loved cathedrals and the sense that they are places in which people have worshipped for hundreds of years. Over the years, we have been so grateful that our son has experienced that in the midst of the great traditions and architecture of Chichester Cathedral. There is something remarkable about being part of a very long history of choristers and it is played out in being part of the major worship services and events. It is an encounter in heritage and faith, whilst finding so much of a welcome in the wider cathedral community as well.
 
As a family we have experienced the seasons of the cathedral year and the routine of life there. There is also a complete encounter with music, as choristers receive a wonderful training in music theory and performance, and a top-class education at the Prebendal School. Our son has very much enjoyed being a member of a community of people who are committed to cathedral music and worship and also the wider community of the cathedral congregation. As parents, it was very important to us that our son be in a place where he could experience being part of a team and working together with others on a daily basis, whilst also receiving an excellent education. It is hard work but also great fun. There have been tours, radio broadcasts, music and singing in all sorts of places, which has broadened his horizons and given him a great sense of the wider world. There is also the amazing aspect of being part of the great Anglican heritage of singing, this very positive feeling of being part of something bigger - a long and powerful tradition. I'm so glad we decided to play that CD in the car that day and also very grateful to all at Chichester Cathedral and the Prebendal School who have mentored, taught and supported our son in his whole experience of being a chorister. It has been an exceptional journey.  

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