The Parochial Church Council of St Helen’s Church, Wheathampstead invites school students to apply for the role of Choral Scholar. We currently have several vacancies, including at least one for each of soprano, alto, tenor and bass
St Helen’s has a strong musical tradition, and the role of the choir in enhancing worship is much appreciated by the congregation. The choir’s role is both to lead music sung by the whole congregation and to sing choral music on its own.
We sing a wide range of classical sacred music from the 1500s to the present day and have sung at several cathedrals including a planned trip to Ely in July 2022. On Sunday mornings the choir sings an anthem during communion, and leads the congregation in the hymns and Eucharist setting. The monthly Evensong is fully choral, and the choir usually sings settings of the responses and canticles, an introit, an anthem and a psalm sung to Anglican chant.
The schedule is as follows:
7.30pm to 9pm Choir practice
10.00am to 11am (approx.) Parish Communion, usually preceded by a short practice
Monthly, usually on 4th Sunday 6pm Choral Evensong, preceded by a practice (usually at 5pm)
These include Advent and Christmas carol services, Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent), Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter – where we sing on both the Thursday and Friday) and Easter.
The choir is often asked to sing at Weddings and Funerals. There will be a small additional payment if you sing at one of these.
Whilst attendance at all rehearsals and services is strongly encouraged the normal minimum requirement will be to attend 3 Sunday morning services, the monthly Evensong and 3 Friday rehearsals per month. We also ask that you commit to performing in at least one fund raising concert each year – to help ensure that the scholarship system continues for future students. We recognise that there may be occasions such as holidays when scholars will be unable to be present, and ask that you notify us in advance of any absences. The choir is not expected to sing in August, and usually has Fridays off after Christmas and Easter.
In return the choral scholar would be paid an honorarium of £300pa payable termly in arrears, for each full term completed, and would be able to play the organ free of charge. The scholar would have access to reduced prices on RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) training courses and would be given free additional tuition if they wished to take any of the RSCM examinations. The honorarium is intended to cover costs of music lessons, courses or sheet music.
The aim of the scholarship is to benefit the singer as a performing musician and will provide useful experience for those wishing to apply for choral scholarships whilst in higher education. All of our previous choral scholars have gone on to sing in university choirs, and some have been awarded university Choral Scholarships.
The scholarships are open to all those attending school from year 10 upwards and we hope that all scholars will stay with us until year 13. We hope to appoint scholars from a range of academic years so we will not lose you all at once.
APPLICATION PROCESS AND DEADLINE – 31st JULY 2022
Application should be made by email or post to the Director of Music, Simon Pusey by 31st July 2022, using the application form here – click to download. This should include your current singing experience including any choirs you have sung with and any singing exams passed. You should also include details of any musical instruments you play, any ensembles you play with and any instrumental exams passed. Please also let us know which school year you will be in (in September 2022).
While we have specified a deadline, the application process will remain open until all the positions have been filled. You are welcome to get in touch with any queries before submitting a formal application.
Simon Pusey, Director of Music, St Helen’s, Wheathampstead
What will I get out of a choral scholarship?
If you’re a good singer – or just a good musician – singing in a choir enables you to learn some beautiful music and also to develop your aural skills and general musical awareness. You will get the camaraderie of working with like-minded young people in our choir – and likeminded older people too! You will benefit from the experience of our music leaders. Other opportunities also open up (which are not covered by the scholarship) – the wonderful RSCM course for young people which takes place in Bath every August, potential to learn the organ, potential for taking recognised choral exams. All these stand you in good stead if you wish to take your choral (or more generally your music) career further. Many universities now offer choral scholarships which provide a small income and often present wonderful opportunities in terms of tours and other events. A choral scholarship is great for the CV for this reason – and in general. It shows you have a skill that you’ve developed and used for good.
How good a singer do I have to be?
We are not looking for qualifications. However, we are looking for someone who can sing to around Grade 5 standard and above. If you’re not offered a scholarship but are interested in one in the future come and join us now and apply again when your voice has developed a little more. Sight reading skills would help greatly but fluency is not essential when you join. The point of the scholarship is for us to help develop your voice and benefit from it whilst you’re with us.
Do I have to be a Christian?
No, you do not. We welcome all faiths and none. The choir’s purpose is to support and sometimes lead those who are Christians to worship. What we would ask is that you understand, respect, and support this purpose in your role as a scholar. If you wish to take the RSCM exams you will need to develop an understanding of the Christian year – our festivals and the bible passages that go with them. This knowledge helps develop your ability to deliver the choir’s purpose.
How long does the scholarship last?
The scholarship will be renewed each year subject to a successful review and can be terminated by either party with one term’s notice. We would hope that scholars will stay with us to the end of year 13. The scholarship will cease once the scholar has left school.
What happens if I am unable to meet my commitment in any month?
Except in cases of emergency you should tell us in advance of any absences. If we agree that these have a good reason, there will not be a problem as long as overall attendance is good.