An introduction to Treble Line (terms of reference and officers)


Treble Line is an organisation set up for UK parish churches that maintain choirs with top-lines consisting only of boys.  It is a network created by choir directors to foster choirs of this type and special benefits they can bring to their members (such as musical training and life-skills), the churches of which they are a part, and wider society.  The name was adopted at a meeting of choir directors and other interested individuals held at Charterhouse, London on 5 February 2011 that followed a preliminary meeting held in Reading in 2010.  Minutes of both meetings are on the Treble Line website.

The aims of Treble Line are to:

  • promote and encourage the singing boy in church and liturgical choirs
  • support and encourage the all-male choir
  • encourage clergy and organists in the running and establishment of such choirs


While “Treble Line” recognises that girls-only, ladies or mixed top lines have an important role to play in parish worship, it believes that the all-boy treble section can bring rather special benefits to its members and more widely.  “Treble Line” also gladly acknowledges that the RSCM provides a valuable service in providing support for all types of choir.  Nevertheless, it may be helpful for choirs with boys-only top lines to exchange experiences, such as what works in recruiting and maintaining trebles, how they are treated when the voice changes etc..  Treble Line is a means by which this can be achieved.

According to best estimates, there are probably fewer than 60 parish churches in the UK remaining with all-boy top lines (that is, not counting cathedrals and schools).  This compares with a much more numerous situation thirty years ago.  A survey conducted for the RSCM in 1982 (summary results being published in Church Music Quarterly of April and July 1983 with the full report on request) found that 12% of affiliated choirs in the UK had a boys-only top line, and 9% were all-male choirs.  At least 144 choirs with treble sections were known definitely to exist then, with estimates of the national total possibly two or three times this number, depending on how representative were the respondents in 1982.  Anecdotal information at a local level supports this decline.

Treble Line’s purpose is to support churches and their music staff who wish to sustain their choirs with all-boy top lines, and also hopefully those who wish to re-establish or create such choirs.  One way in which this may be achieved can be by demonstrating ‘good practice’ by choirs that have proved themselves to be successful and sustainable.  Another is to enable choir directors to network with the aim of arranging combined events, exchanging information (such as training programmes) etc..


President: Dr Alan Thurlow

Chairman: Rev. Jonathan Boston

Secretary: Prof. Berkeley Hill, 1 Brockhill Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 4AB. Tel: 01303 265312. Fax: 01303 237381.