Am I good enough?

Without hearing you play, we can’t answer that for you. The only way to find out is to come and play for us.

If you wish to have advice on whether or not you should apply, we can arrange for you to have an Advice Audition with one of our instrumental tutors. After the lesson, you will receive advice on whether to apply straight away, or whether to work on certain aspects of your playing to help you audition successfully.

Graded music exams are a useful indicator of your ability, but are not vital to you being accepted for a place. However, for entry into the Sixth Form, Associated Board Grade 5 Theory is desirable.

What are you looking for in the audition?

The audition panel will be looking not only at your current ability on your chosen instrument/s, but your understanding of the music you play, musical creativity and the potential to improve and mature as a musician. Find out more about the application process.

How many instruments can I study?

Although it isn’t a requirement to audition on more than one instrument, we would encourage you to consider taking up a second instrument – especially piano, if this is not your first study – if offered a place. Most students stop at two instruments, because studying a third instrument would take away from the time that is available for the practice of their two main studies. However, if your Head of Department and the Director of Music were to agree that a Third Study instrument was acceptable, the lessons for the third instrument would have to be paid for as an extra.

Many Chetham’s students do play other instruments besides their main studies, but do not necessarily get lessons. The musical culture of the school gives them the skills to play for their own enjoyment – or to call on friends to help them out.

Can I join the school in Year 11?

As a general rule we don’t accept students into Year 11 as this is half-way through your GCSEs. However, in exceptional circumstances we may consider it as an option.

Are singers only accepted in the Sixth Form?

Voice is normally only accepted as a First Study in the Sixth Form; in large part because the voice moves slowly towards maturity and may be damaged by early overuse.

Students in all year groups take part in Choir sessions, with regular performance opportunities for the Lower School Choir and the renowned Chamber Choir. Non-orchestral players regularly sing in Chetham’s Chorus for major end of year concerts. It may be possible to have voice as a Second Study during the Middle School, and to change to a First Study in the Sixth Form.

Chetham’s educates the boy and girl choristers of Manchester Cathedral, who may join the choir between the ages of 8-10 and usually remain as choristers until around the age of 13. Choristers receive first-class musical training from the Cathedral staff and study an additional instrument at Chetham’s, which means many of them remain at the school as First-Study instrumentalists when their voices mature. Entry routes and funding for choristers differ from other students; find out more here.

What performance opportunities will I have?

Eight Lunchtime Concerts every week ensure that every student can take the chance to hone their solo recital skills in front of an audience. Regular Performance Classes provide an additional space to perform to fellow students and staff and to gain useful feedback before facing a public audience.

Chamber music is a large part of the music training at Chetham’s and as such you will be placed in at least one chamber group and often more depending on your instrument and the performance opportunities on offer in any term. Every year the Chamber Music Marathon sees around 100 chamber ensembles from across the School performing in front of audiences in an epic day of music making.

A busy performance programme throughout the year provides regular opportunities for students to perform across the region and further afield, and to apply for regular solo performance opportunities with the School’s larger ensembles. Three times each year, academic teaching stops for Music Course, when the whole school spends a week focusing on performance, and the school’s two orchestras – Chetham’s Sinfonia and Symphony Orchestra – perform in major venues in Manchester and beyond. Music Course performances have taken place as far afield as London, Norway and the Bay of Naples – ensuring that you are likely to leave Chetham’s with an international performance career already behind you!

What if I decide I do not want to be a professional musician?

Although students are drawn to Chetham’s by a passion for music, many go on to study other subjects at university or to other careers in the future. The excellent academic standards at Chetham’s, and the discipline of studying music to a high standard, provide a strong stepping stone for any path in life, and students have progressed both to leading conservatoires and universities to study Law, Medicine, Archaeology, German, Engineering, Mathematics and more.

How can I afford the fees?

Chetham’s is part of the government’s Music and Dance Scheme. This is a means-tested funding scheme run by the government, which helps to pay for UK resident students to attend specialist music and dance schools. If you are offered a place at Chetham’s your parents will be asked to provide their income details to the Bursar who will then calculate what their annual contribution to the fees will be. As a rough guide, if your parents earn less than £20,000 per year they will pay only £600 a year towards your boarding fees and education. If your parents earn over £190,000 a year then they will be asked to pay full fees. Everyone in between has to contribute on a sliding scale (N.B. this scheme does not apply to Choristers or Overseas students). Find out more about Fees and Financial Assistance.

I am paying University fees and living expenses for another of my children. Can these costs be taken into account?

Unless the student is not entitled to a tuition or maintenance loan/grant from Student Finance then payments made by parents to support children at University cannot be taken into account.

What’s it like to be at boarding school?

The House staff at Chetham’s create an atmosphere which really does become a second home for boarders. Through a shared passion for music, most students make friends quickly and enjoy the shopping and cultural life of Manchester on their doorstep.

If you do have any problems, House staff and Personal Tutors are always around, and will be able to help you sort out difficulties with your timetable, with friends or with other tutors. You’ll go home every third weekend, as well as during holidays, and can contact your family at any time outside lessons or rehearsals – so you won’t feel as far away as you might think. On top of that, there are lots of social activities organised for evenings and weekends which means that most of the time, students have a wonderful time living at Chetham’s.

You can find out more about how students feel about life at Chetham’s, and more details about boarding, on the Pastoral and Boarding pages.

Will changes to the UK’s status in the EU affect my funding or right to study at Chetham’s?

We do not yet have any information as to the impact of the UK leaving the EU on overseas students. As soon as we have any guidance we will share it on the website and directly with current students who may be affected.

What happens to Choristers after the age of 13?

Boy and girl choristers at Manchester Cathedral study at Chetham’s whilst they are choristers, usually between the ages of 8 and 13.  Boys whose voices break early may cease to be choristers sooner.   All choristers receive their academic education through Chetham’s and also take individual instrumental lessons – usually on piano, unless they already play another instrument when they join the School.  In their final year as choristers, students must audition as instrumental students at Chetham’s and follow the same process as other students.  If they are offered a place, they should then become eligible for funding through the Music and Dance Scheme.  Places are not guaranteed, but working and studying in the environment of a specialist music school can stand choristers in good stead when preparing for audition.

Find out more about becoming a Chorister.

Can I go home at weekends?

Boarding students who live within reasonable travelling distance of Manchester are permitted to go home at the weekends if they wish.  Most weekends, students will have music timetabled on Saturday mornings and will therefore need to leave after 1pm on Saturday, returning in time for registration at 8.30am on Monday.  Approximately every third weekend is a Free Weekend for which Friday’s lessons end slightly early and all students go home to parents or guardians for the whole weekend.  These are sometimes extended to Long Free Weekends, with an additional night spent at home, when they coincide with Bank Holidays or fall within longer school terms.

Permission to go home at weekends is at the discretion of music and pastoral staff.  Boarders who travel home most weekends will still be eligible for full boarding fees; students may only be classed as day students or full boarders in terms of funding.

Can you support students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)?

Our Compensatory Education (CompEd) department supports all students with SEND or with English as a Second or Additional Language.  Students can be supported at all stages of the application process, and we strongly encourage the families of prospective students to tell us about additional needs before auditioning, so that suitable adjustments may be made if required.  The musical audition is the only criterion for entry to Chetham’s, and neither academic ability nor additional support needs will ever compromise an offer of a place based on musical potential.

Find out more about Compensatory Education.