Frideswide Voices: Frequently Asked Questions

When can my daughter apply?

Applications are welcome during Year 2 for membership from September of Year 3. Girls who wish to audition are encouraged to attend a “Be a Chorister for an Evening” taster session prior to auditions in the early summer of Year 2.

What will an audition for Frideswide Voices, of Christ Church, Oxford entail?

After some vocal warm-ups, candidates will be asked to sing a short prepared piece of their choice (this may be sacred or secular, accompanied or unaccompanied). Some simple aural tests will then be given (e.g. singing or clapping back a phrase played on the piano). Girls will be asked to read a short poem or hymn text and may also be tested on basic sight-singing, as appropriate to their age and experience. The audition will last up to ten minutes. If presenting an accompanied piece, please provide an extra copy of the music.

What arrangements are in place for the September 2020 intake in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Be a Chorister for an Evening (BACFAE) events were due to take place in late March but the outbreak of Coronavirus meant that these had to be cancelled. These events will now take place online, and will offer parents and prospective choristers the chance to hear from choristers, current choir parents and staff, as well as watch an online rehearsal. 

Voice trials will be held online, in a similar format to that outlined below; more information will be available at the BACFAE events, and provided for applicants. 

It is our intention to recruit a standard cohort of five girls to join the Choir as pre-probationers in September 2020, either at Christ Church or online should face-to-face rehearsals not be possible.

Do singers need to be able to read music to join Frideswide Voices?

No. Some girls will have no previous experience of reading music. Those who are keen and committed and have a good musical ear and a reasonable vocal range will be considered for the choir. Training in musicianship and sight-singing will be given. 

What do Frideswide Voices choristers wear?

Full choristers wear a purple cassock with a white necker and surplice (provided), and black shoes and socks. Probationers wear cassock and necker only; pre-probationers (Year 3) wear school uniform. For rehearsals in the Cathedral the choristers wear their cassock and necker. A choir hoodie is provided and should be worn for choir visits outside Oxford.

How much does it cost to become a member of Frideswide Voices?

There is no subscription fee. Parents make occasional voluntary contributions towards the cost of social events and to collaborative catering.

What are the benefits to my daughter?

  • Choral and individual vocal training.
  • Wider musicianship and music theory tuition
  • Understanding of music within the Church of England
  • Professionalism and teamwork skills – regular singing with the professional clerks (Cathedral Choir singers)
  • A bursary to cover instrumental lessons is given to all choristers
  • A varied social calendar
  • Tours and visits to other Cathedrals
  • Sandwich snacks on Evensong day

What if my child cannot attend a rehearsal?

If a chorister is unwell and needs to miss a session, the FV Administrator or other staff must be contacted by email to explain her absence. A phone number is also provided for last minute issues. If a rehearsal is missed, the chorister may not be able to sing in the next service, but will be required to attend. Full commitment to the choir is essential. The payment of the instrumental lesson grant will be dependent on good attendance in the previous term.

Which days of the week does the choir meet on?

Frideswide Voices meets on Mondays (4.30–6.30pm) and Wednesdays (4.30–7pm). The choir sings a weekly Evensong, which is usually on Wednesdays. There are occasional extra commitments (for exceptional services or concerts), including one weekend per term when the choir will sing a Saturday Evensong and a Sunday morning Eucharist. Families are given ample notice of such extra dates. The schedule generally follows the Oxfordshire County Council school term dates. 

How are rehearsals structured?

The Monday rehearsal session will include musicianship training, and individual music theory lessons each week. Theory teaching follows the ABRSM grades and those choristers who have passed Grade 5 Theory study some aspects of the Grade 6 syllabus, such as figured bass, as well as receiving training in aural skills to support aural test preparation for the higher grades of instrumental exams. Choristers also receive individual singing coaching approximately twice per term. There will be a short break for drinks and biscuits in the middle of the session. On Wednesdays a snack of sandwiches and fruit will be offered at 4.20, after which the rehearsal begins promptly in the Cathedral at 4.45. This rehearsal will focus on preparation for the Evensong service. There will be a drinks break to provide time for vocal rest.