The Choral Scholar program, open to students in all forms, is designed to develop the “complete choral singer,” and is an approach unique to St. Andrew’s among American boarding schools. The program is based on an expanded version of Voice for Life, created by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in London, England, an institution with which St. Andrew’s School is affiliated. Features of the Choral Scholar program include:
- Individual vocal instruction for each Choral Scholar, as well as work with voice faculty from the University of Delaware;
- Individual and group instruction in music theory, aural skills, sight-singing and music history;
- The opportunity to perform frequently, both in concert and in liturgical settings, and both on campus and across the mid-Atlantic region;
- Both national and international tours, and recordings in alternate years, and the opportunity to perform in venues such as the White House, the Basilica of San Marco (Venice) or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York City);
- Exposure to the finest choral literature from the past and present. The Choral Scholar repertoire comprises not only larger works such as Handel’s Messiah, Bach cantatas and Carissimi’s Jephte, but sacred and secular music from the Renaissance to the present day, including arrangements of popular songs written especially for Choral Scholars.
We recognize that excellent group sight-singing does not necessarily translate into excellent individual sight-singing. To that end, everything we do is designed to ensure not only that the ensemble as a whole sight-sings well, but that upon graduation, each Choral Scholar is capable of sight-singing virtually any piece of choral literature put in front of them. Graduates of the Choral Scholar program often go on to sing in some of the finest collegiate and liturgical ensembles in the country.
Choral Scholars meets four class periods per week for academic credit. Roughly half these rehearsals involve the full ensemble, while the other half are divided by attained level, with the more advanced two levels rehearsing together twice a week and the beginning two levels rehearsing together twice a week. This pattern serves to keep the program unified, while giving the upper-level singers a chance to work on additional music, and the other levels regular time to receive additional instruction and training.
A student’s beginning level is determined either by transferring into the program from another RSCM institution (levels attained at any RSCM school or church are honored at St. Andrew’s), or by taking a placement test upon arrival at St. Andrew’s. Students advance through both RSCM levels and additional, more advanced levels so that singers always have specific vocal, theory and sight-singing goals toward which to work.
In addition to the Choral Scholars program, The Noxontones is a popular a cappella ensemble of roughly 14-16 singers that rehearses twice weekly in the evenings and performs a number of times throughout the year. The focus of Noxontones is the American collegiate a cappella literature, including arrangements done especially for the group by their director. Noxontones is open to students in the IV, V, and VI Forms, by audition.
Private voice lessons for any student are also available as scheduling allows.