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Photo: Jay Mallin
As primarily an after-school program, St. Paul’s Choir School is one of the best ways in the Washington, DC, area to offer your child a world-class music education at no cost financially. The Choir School is affiliated with St. Paul’s Parish and operates under its auspices as part of the music program.
The Boys' and Girls' Choirs
• One of the Washington, DC, area’s most highly respected choral music programs
• Professional training in music for children ages seven and above, at no expense to parents
• Equal emphasis on training of the voice and music-reading skills
• The choirs regularly undertake tours, in recent years to New York City, Philadelphia, and Williamsburg.
• Every few years the choirs record a professional CD.
• The choirs have appeared at the Kennedy Center
• Our choirs are modeled on, and sing at a comparable standard to, famous English choirs, such as that of Westminster Abbey.
• There are separate boys’ and girls’ choirs, though most Sundays they join together to sing Evensong.
Teamwork, Leadership, and Skills for Life
• We teach more than just music skills; our training can be an essential part of the whole formation of a child.
• Each boy and girl receives significant individual attention in a stimulating, challenging, yet fun environment.
• Leadership skills are an important part of our program.
• The wide range of ages (7-14 for boys, 7-18 for girls) encourages teamwork — the younger children learn from older choristers.
• Field trips, choir parties, and tours foster bonding and strong friendships.
All choir alumni leave with a broad understanding of musicianship and music-making. Since few children, particularly boys, can envision the enjoyment and reward of a choir experience, parental initiative and involvement is critical when considering membership. Parents will find a network of support awaiting them, including carpooling from many locations in the Washington, DC, area. In addition, St. Paul’s is easily reachable from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop.
Becoming a Chorister
• Children may join at any time.
• Visit us for a rehearsal or service; phone or email the jsmith [at] stpauls-kst.com ( Director of Music) to arrange an informal audition and interview.
• No prior training or experience is expected or required.
• There are no expenses or tuition fees, unlike many comparable programs; the strong commitment parents and children make is all that is required.
• Children of any religious affiliation, or no affiliation, are warmly welcomed.
• A small stipend, based on leadership and performance, is paid each chorister, underscoring the seriousness of the commitment to the choir.
The Youth Choir
The Youth Choir is for boys with changed voices. The choir usually rehearses on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-8:15 p.m. and sings for occasional Masses and other special services. The boys of the choir are, in most cases, alumni of our boys’ choir, though inquiries from other high school-aged boys are welcomed. If interested, contact Jsmith [at] stpauls-kst.com (Jeffrey Smith), Director of Music, for more information.
What People Say About the Choir School
Dr. Martin Neary, LVO (Former Organist and Master of Choristers, Westminster Abbey):
"I would also say that in later life it is quite often not the so-called stars who seem to be most appreciative of their time as boy choristers. They remember the pleasure and (as they now realise) the privilege of performing great music; and we should not forget that so many boys benefit academically from this musical training, quite apart from enabling them, where ever their careers take them later on, to have music as a joy for life. So may I be bold enough to say that if your child shows any musical potential, it is a parental duty to give him the chance of becoming a chorister! At a wonderfully impressionable age in their lives, choristers can absorb so much. For their parents and their families, this I know can involve a sacrifice in terms of time and travelling; but when you hear the results at St. Paul’s, I don’t believe anyone will think that it is not worth all the effort. I, for one, have greatly enjoyed the times I have made music with them."
Iain Quinn (Tutor in Music, College of St. Hild and St. Bede, Durham University, England):
"The time I spent as a chorister fundamentally impacted how I view the church and music. To have been in a team environment that was non-competitive and yet incredibly rewarding is something I treasure. Above all it developed a love of music through the incredible symbiosis of music and glorious liturgy. The setting also develops inter-personal skills at a young age, as well as an inherent respect for tradition in a fast moving world. St. Paul's is blessed with one of the leading choral programmes in U.S. It deserves every support from the larger musical community, not least because it aspires to make a positive, and often lifelong, impact on the lives of those engaged in its ministry. To be a chorister is to see the world through the beauty of compositions written by some of the greatest creative minds of earlier centuries and thus be part of a living history. Personally, I can't imagine anything more exciting."