We formed the junior choir in November 2012 with a number of aims. Our main aim, of course, is to enjoy what we sing and to make a sound that is pleasant to all! However, underlying any tuneful sound is a good grounding in musical theory, vocal technique, and knowledge of singing in an ecclesiastical setting. We aim to teach all three and we are following the RSCM’s Voice for Life scheme to achieve this. In addition, in order to encourage progression through the levels, all full members of the choir in full-time education are paid termly stipends according to attendance with considerable increments with each level achieved (award values per service/practice here).
We are now a choir of 11 singers. Our debut was at the Christmas Carol service last year where all were amazed at the standard of
singing since we had only existed just over one month! At the moment our members mainly came from the
Junior Church (Sunday school), our affiliated Thorpedene school, and our uniformed organisations. However, we are keen to grow and happy for our existence to
be broadcast further afield.
Rehearsals take place in the church on Sundays at 11:30am (after the refreshments of the morning service). The main rehearsal lasts for 40 minutes but there are additional ad hoc classes at times to allow members of different ages and levels to work on their Voice for Life awards. These are individual at times (thanks in part to the additional help of the musical people already attached to the church). Members also attend the 10:00am service, older members sing in the choir for the entire service whilst junior members sing the first and last hymns and any choir-only pieces and exit for junior church in the intervening period. Full members aged over 10 (and younger members with more experience) will also generally sing at one Choral Evensong per month and for weddings (with additional payment for the latter).
As you gain more experience and/or singers get older they will progress into the adult choir. Voice for Life training will continue if desired and if continuing, stipends also continue for all those in full-time education.
Voice for Life awards
Our choir is affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music and as such all junior members progress through the RSCM’s Voice for Life award levels. All workbooks, examination entries and the resulting medals/ribbons/badges are paid for by the church to enable all to participate. Each level focusses on four main areas:
The highest level equates broadly to the Grade 8 levels of the ABRSM singing and theory examinations and the highest few levels would
certainly set singers up for obtaining Choral Scholarships that are offered at many universities (for those studying music as well as other subjects). At the other end of the spectrum the RSCM has introduced a white level award within the past year in order to allow
singers with no musical or singing experience to obtain an early award. New members work towards this as probationers; it generally takes 3-10 weeks depending on experience and after this they are admitted as full members of the choir in a small ceremony at a morning service.
The Junior Choir was set up for those over seven. However, we split into different age/experience groups for Voice For Life theory teaching, so we were actually delighted when five children under seven joined. Lorraine (the Director) started learning the piano at the age of 4 (despite not being from a family who had had any formal music teaching) and it was starting at this young age that allowed her to progress her music skills to a professional level. It's really exciting that we could be giving the same opportunity to our young singers. We have FIVE nursery/primary/secondary school teachers amongst the mums/dads and are delighted that they are helping us out so we are well set up for teaching younger children. Instead of the Voice for Life work, we work through a fun sticker book designed for teaching music skills to the very young (as well as other musical activities). The Fun Choir do still sing with the older members when we practise singing and sing during services and have enormous fun doing so.
We are located in the middle of Thorpe Bay, about two miles east of Southend on Sea and just a short walk from the sea front. We are easily accessible by train (Thorpe Bay station is on the main line from London Fenchurch Street) and bus (Nos 1, 7 and 9), and there is ample on-street parking around the church. The church itself is on an island site at the junction of Johnstone Road and St Augustine’s Avenue.
Our address is:
St Augustine’s Church,
St Augustine’s Avenue,
Thorpe Bay, Essex.
18th January 2020