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Covid-19 update: Video Auditions

The Covid-19 restrictions mean we’re doing many things differently at the moment, but we’re excited by the challenge! If you are an aspiring young musician, we want to hear from you.

We are continuing to deliver our academic and music tuition remotely, with approximately 1,000 hours of online music tuition ongoing each week. Our pupil admissions team are hard at work too, with some adjustments to the usual processes outlined on these pages. Instead of coming for an audition in person, we will ask you to provide a video recording along with your application form. Ideally, we’d like the audition video to be provided as a YouTube link, but if you prefer please attach a low/medium resolution file. Smart phone footage is just fine! Let us know the titles and composers of each piece, but there is no need for too much formality. Let us know if you have any problems with this.

All of our usual admissions information is below, but be aware of the changes outline above.



If you’re considering applying to Chetham’s, help and advice is available along the way to ensure that you make a decision that is right for you and your child.

We welcome applications and hold auditions throughout the academic year, but we encourage you to apply early, ideally before Christmas, for a place the following September. This timescale will give you plenty of time to prepare for a change of school, and to work on aspects of your playing between your first and second auditions if required.

We also offer Advice Auditions all year round for musicians who would like professional feedback on their playing and musical ability, but have not yet decided whether they plan to apply for a place at Chetham’s.

The timeline below gives you an idea of the process of becoming a Chetham’s student. You don’t need to go through all of these stages – the crucial ones are marked with a star – but they may help you to make your decision about joining the School.

You are welcome to contact us at any time with queries about any aspect of the process. There may be some delay in our response during the School holiday periods in December, April and July/August, when administrative and auditions staff are out of school.

Please address any admissions enquiries to Alice Herbert, Auditions Administrator, on 07918 078 609* or email us.

*(Please note this is a temporary number which is in use only during the Covid-19 school site closure.)

Explore our website

Take a look around our site to find out more about the School, our staff and students, and the events and projects coming up soon

Download a prospectus

Download a Chetham’s prospectus, giving you more information about the School and its departments

Attend an Open Day

Main Open Days are held twice a year, in October and January, with shorter age-specific sessions during the summer term. They’re a great chance to meet current staff and students, observe lessons and rehearsals, and explore the School site. Manchester Cathedral also arranges regular ‘Be A Chorister For A Day’ events for young singers aged 7-11

Advice Audition

Book an advice audition

Chetham’s holds Advice Auditions for anyone considering applying for a place. These informal one-to-one auditions with our instrumental tutors provide individual advice and guidance about application. Advice Auditions can be arranged at any time during the year; we ask for a contribution of £25 towards instrumental tutors’ time. If that cost proves a barrier to your child accessing this opportunity, please contact us as we are often able to assist.

To book an audition or Advice Audition, contact Alice Herbert via 0161 834 9644 or email us

Advice Audition

Complete an application form

All potential students must complete an application form, with input from the Head of your current school and your current music tutor

Student playing clarinet

Assessment audition

When you are ready to audition for a place at Chetham’s, this is a two-stage process. The first Assessment Audition lasts 20-30 minutes with the Head of the relevant Instrumental Department. You are asked to prepare two contrasting pieces of music which best demonstrate your current musical ability on your principal instrument and one piece on your second instrument, if you have one. In the audition, we look for the following qualities:

Musicianship – your ability to deal fluently with practical music issues. This may include questions on key, rhythm, dynamics and other aspects of interpretation.
Aural awareness – your ability to understand and identify musical sounds and patterns. This will include an ear (aural) tests, mainly through singing, and pitching intervals, short melodies, answering phrases, rhythms and simple chord recognition.
Creativity / musicality – what we look for primarily is natural musical spontaneity and potential.
Technique – your instrumental skills, including awareness of quality of sound, intonation and rhythmic precision. You will also be asked to play scales at the appropriate level – if scales have not been part of your instrumental learning to date then just let us know and these will not be included in your audition.
Musical literacy – your ability to sight-read a short piece and your ability to understand and discuss music. We’ll ask you to talk to us about the pieces you have performed in your audition.
Musical personality & potential – we highly value these qualities. We are looking for your strength of character, dedication, enthusiasm, individuality and musical potential.
Response – with all of the above we are looking for potential and musical ‘instinct’.

After the Assessment Audition, you’ll receive a letter informing you whether you are invited to stage two of the audition process. If not, we will provide constructive feedback to guide your future musical development, and may ask you to re-audition at a later date after working on specific areas of your musicality, so that we can gauge your response and progress (eg improvements to scales, sight reading or rhythmic security).

Student playing clarinet
Main Audition

Main audition

If you are offered a Main Audition, we’ll ask you to prepare and develop specific areas based on what we heard at the Assessment Audition. You and your parents will also meet the Principal and take a tour of Chetham’s, usually given by one of our existing students. After the Main Audition, you may be offered a place at Chetham’s for the following September, you may be held on the reserve list, or you may be invited to re-audition at a later date. If you are not offered a place, we are happy to provide constructive feedback designed to help your future musical development.

Main Audition


After your audition, you’ll receive a letter within three weeks telling you whether you have been successful.

If you’re still making your own mind up, talk to us about your questions or concerns. You may be able to join us for rehearsals or trial lessons, or even to try out boarding for up to a week, giving you time to really understand life at Chetham’s and feel confident it’s right for you.



Once you have been offered a place, you’ll receive an acceptance pack where we’ll collect key information from you, making sure we’re ready for you to join us the following year. You’ll also receive term dates, full terms and conditions, and other details to help you plan your first days at the school. With your acceptance, you’ll be asked to pay an acceptance fee of £145.


Your family will also be asked to provide their income details to the Bursar who will then calculate what their annual contribution to the fees will be.

A large group of students crosses the bridge on Chetham's site

New students' day

In June each year, students starting at Chetham’s the following September will be invited to a New Students’ Day. This takes place on a Saturday and is a chance for you and your family to meet staff and students, find your way around Chetham’s, and for us to begin getting to know you so we can match you to a teacher, an accompanist, and if you’re boarding, to your roommates.

A large group of students crosses the bridge on Chetham's site

Starting at Chetham's

Around 60 new students join Chetham’s every September – that means that one in every five students will be new, so you certainly won’t feel alone!

There will be a lot of information to take in and new people to meet, but staff and older students will always be around to help you out. After just three weeks you’ll have your first free weekend, giving you chance to go home and tell your family all about your experiences – and once you’ve been part of your first Music Course in October, you’ll feel like you’re fully immersed in the Chetham’s family.