What to expect on our assessment days
The assessment day is a really good opportunity for boys to find out what it might be like to be a chorister here. We usually ask boys to arrive at about 9:20 am in time for school assembly. Sometimes we see boys in small groups, just one or two on a particular day; on other occasions there may be a larger number of boys visiting all together. Whatever the case, the atmosphere is informal and relaxed in order to put boys at their ease.
There is no need to dress up for the occasion. Wear something comfortable and bring a pair of trainers with you so that you can play on the field at break if you would like to. Don’t forget to bring your instrument if you have started having lessons, and some music to play. We don’t expect an advanced level of instrumental playing but often it is possible to see potential in the way in which a candidate approaches his playing.
During the morning Mr Roberts, the Headmaster, will usually do some simple standardised tests in mathematics and spelling. There is no need for any special preparation and the tests are based on material that would normally be covered within the National Curriculum at an appropriate level. Although boys need to be quick on the uptake if they are to thrive as choristers, we are not academically selective. We are looking for someone who responds well to a challenge, and someone we think will really benefit from the opportunities we can offer.
Mr O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers, together with one or more of the music staff will then audition candidates individually. This is usually a very enjoyable part of the day and he will do many of the same sorts of tests that he did at the preliminary informal hearing.
After lunch, there is usually an opportunity to have a good look round the school, guided by some of our junior boys, before joining one of the normal lessons taking place. This gives the boys a very good first-hand experience of what life at the choir school might be like. It also allows us to see how boys respond amongst peers, and this is a crucial part of what it takes to be a chorister.
The day usually finishes at about 3:30 pm, though sometimes, if candidates haven’t previously come to a service in the Abbey, they can stay for Evensong, sitting alongside the choir to experience what it might be like to be a real Abbey Chorister.