Choral Studies Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Choral Studies?

A choir is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform. Choirs may perform music from the classical music repertoire, which spans from the medieval era to the present or popular music repertoire.

Choral Studies Programs are committed to musical excellence and to the importance of the arts in the enrichment of life. They are designed to build a skilled and well-rounded musician, developing the inherent musical and personal strengths of both the undergraduate and graduate students.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Choral Studies in the following subject areas:

  • MA in Choral Studies – Through this programme, students will acquire an advanced level of knowledge, understanding, and skills in the areas of historically informed choral interpretation, composition for choirs, leadership in choral performance and vocal technique, stylistic ensemble singing, editing, analytical score preparation, and the arts sector in Ireland.
  • Singing and Music Theory for Beginners – An introduction to the basics of singing alongside music theory. This course will cover breathing techniques, warm-ups, exercises for vocal control, performing in front of an audience and correct singing posture.
  • MA In Music Education – This blended learning programme is suited to anyone with an interest in music education.
  • Music Performance and Audio Engineering – This Music Performance and Audio Engineering course is designed to meet the needs of learners wishing to develop their understanding of the music industry and improve their music skills for entry to third level.

Studying Choral Studies

There are many courses in Choral Studies that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. You need to take every opportunity to involve yourself with young people’s music-making, whether as part of a choir or teaching individuals. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Raise your profile by giving local performances, arranging concerts and gigs, singing or playing wherever you can. Skill as a piano accompanist can be useful and may lead to extra work for examinations, choirs and dance classes/performances.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Choral Studies course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of choirs and choral music.

  • Choral students acquire an advanced level of knowledge, understanding, and skills in the areas of historically informed choral interpretation, composition for choirs, leadership in choral performance and vocal technique, stylistic ensemble singing, editing, analytical score preparation, and the arts sector in Ireland.
  • Choral studies will equip students with the academic, critical, musical, and research expertise to underpin their activities in conducting, composing, and ensemble singing.
  • Typical employers include local authorities that bring pupils together into local or regional choirs, orchestras, wind ensembles and jazz bands; schools, colleges and universities, young people’s arts and drama organisations, churches and other religious facilities, privately and publicly-funded music centres and private pupils, both children and adults if you decide to go into a more educational role.
  • As a music teacher, you will combine your musical and teaching ability to provide music lessons to teach pupils to play a musical instrument or to sing. Private, visiting and peripatetic music teachers provide instrumental, vocal and music training for children and adults of all ages. You’ll work at a variety of levels teaching different musical skills to individuals or groups.
  • Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a facility with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Working hours will typically include after hours, evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedules of all of the other members of the choir.

Related jobs include:

  • Choral conductor
  • Choir singer
  • Composer
  • Ensemble singer
  • Singer
  • Background singer
  • Songwriter
  • Choral arts administration
  • Musician
  • Music teacher
  • Private music teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Music therapist
  • Music producer
  • Sound technician, broadcasting/film/video
  • Recording and production assistant
  • Editing and choral publisher
  • Sound designer
  • Sound engineer
  • Community arts worker
  • Event manager
  • Talent agent
  • Theatre stage manager
  • Tour manager
  • Music critic
  • Broadcaster

Further study

After completing a course in Choral Studies you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as Music Education and Teaching.


Are there different types of choirs?

There are many different forms of music composed for vocal performance. Different types of choirs include mixed choirs, usually with parts for SATB – soprano, alto, tenor and bass, male voice choirs, female choirs, and Acappella ensembles.

What skills could be helpful for a career in Choral Studies?

Skills that could be very helpful for a career in Choral Studies or a related musical career are:

  • Musical ability
  • Passion and enthusiasm for music
  • Patience, perseverance and excellent communication skills
  • High standards of professionalism and professional ethics
  • Excellent self-management and organisational skills
  • Willingness to try new directions and be flexible
  • Readiness to do the routine jobs as well as the exciting ones

What skills will you learn being part of a Choir?

Taking part in a choir is not only a fantastic way to learn to sing but a great way to learn a number of practical skills alongside musical skills.

  • Teamwork – Choirs aren’t about one singer being the best. The focus is on harmony, meaning it doesn’t matter if you’re the best singer in the world; everyone’s voices have to blend together. Being part of a choir helps you consider yourself as part of something bigger and how the individual helps shape the whole.
  • Concentration and focus – There’s a lot learned during a rehearsal and this means having to pay attention and take everything on board. There are dozens of studies showing that learning a musical skill rewards you with improved concentration and focus.
  • Confidence – The sense of belonging and community gained from the choir means you don’t have to worry about shouldering the entire burden of quality. Everyone plays a part in making the choir shine, no one is singled out.
  • Discipline – Choirs encourage a sense of responsibility and punctuality without having to be strict or nasty. Because the choir is fun, you WANT to put in that work and commit.
  • Active Listening – One of the keys to getting better in a choir is listening; listening to the music, to your fellow choir members, to yourself and listening to a choir leader. Choirs are built on listening, and while this may seem like a natural skill, many people find it difficult to pick out prudent information.

Where can I study Choral Studies?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The most common arrangement of people within a choir mainly used today is SATB – meaning Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass.
  • In the past, specifically in the Medieval and Renaissance eras, women were not allowed to sing in choirs, and so the men would fulfil the roles of sopranos and altos in choirs.
  • The most common instrument to accompany a choir is usually the piano, but in the past, there was the use of a harpsichord – the predecessor of the modern-day piano. However, there also can be choirs that are accompanied by a full orchestra that can have up to 100 musicians.
  • Vocal coach Richard Fink IV set the Guinness World Record for longest continual vocal note when he sang a Bb for 103 seconds in 2009.
  • During her first performance in the Royal Opera House’s production of Tosca in 1964, legendary soprano Maria Callas leaned in too close to a burning candle on stage and her wig caught on fire. Her co-star, Tito Gobbi (who was playing Scarpia), reached over and extinguished the flame with his bare hand, and while all this was happening, Maria never missed a note.

Mariza Halliday

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