All posts by Daniel Harding

Deputy Director of Music, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.

Added value: University Music Performance Scholarships

Musicians are versatile people. They are used to the discipline of rehearsing and practising, to the expectations of conductors and collaborators that they will arrive for an event prepared and able to deliver. They are organised (hopefully, anyway), accustomed to setting aside time to practice and juggling rehearsals and performances alongside other demands of life – shopping, studying, going to school, taking exams, doing the laundry, filling out forms (oh the heady glamour…). They are used to working under pressure, performing in the white-heat of the public eye (and ear) in concerts. And they are usually skilled at working with others, at establishing working relationships quickly and confidently.

Here at Kent, the University recognises that all these qualities are immensely valuable in its students, and that potential students looking for a suitable university at which to pursue their degree may often be trained musicians, who have combined their school life with musical commitments for many years, and who want to continue with their musical interests alongside their course of study. If you’ve spent many years learning an instrument or taking singing lessons, putting in endless hours of practice and performance, then music forms a large, rewarding, part of your life that you don’t necessarily want wholly to rescind when you go to university, and it can be a challenge adjusting to the gaping chasm left in your life that was previously occupied by music; listening to it, practising it, performing it.

So we offer Music Performance Scholarships to those who are keen to continue with their musical pursuits whilst studying at Kent. Our Music Scholars (usually numbering between ten and fifteen each year) come from across the university community, studying all manner of subjects from Law to Biosciences, Wildlife Conservation to Politics and International Relations, History to Drama. There are Scholars from across the country; from far-flung corners of the world (Malaysia, South Africa, India, Canada to name a few); and from across the county of Kent itself. All of them, however, united in their enthusiasm for, and commitment to continue making, music for the three years during which they take up residency in Canterbury. Whether attending lectures in Woolf College, drama rehearsals in Jarman, mock sessions in the Moot building as part of Kent Law School, or maths seminars in the Sibson Building, they will all, at various points during the week, make their way in to the Colyer-Fergusson Building to rehearse in the concert-hall or practice in the practice-rooms. And throughout the year, they will perform not only in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, but in Canterbury Cathedral, Deal Memorial Bandstand, and churches and venues around the county, making lifelong friends with others along the way.
Percussionist and former Music Scholar, Cory Adams, talks about his experience, playing with the Concert and Big Bands, Orchestra, General Harding’s Tomfoolery and other ensembles:

And here’s brief excerpts from the Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital given as part of Summer Music Week in June this year:

Blond ambition: clarinettist Rianna Carr

The university recognises and values the skills and abilities that musicians can bring to its community when they come to Kent to study; the phrase ‘Good musicians make good students’ is often quoted, with Scholars often going on to graduate with first-class degrees. If that includes you, then take a look at our Scholarships page online here, and see how you could become involved in a rich musical life alongside whatever course you may be looking to study.

Hannah’s American Diary: Part Two

Reporting in from the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts as part of Camp America, the second entry in the diary of Music Scholar Hannah Ost


So the first of my three, three-week sessions at camp has come to an end. I can’t believe it but I’m now halfway through the second! Each day seems to pass by so slowly but looking back I can’t believe how fast it has actually gone.

Both of the shows for which I am Musical Director have opened and closed and went down very well with each audience. The little kids in Snow White were very cute and even though some of them are only eight, we still managed some two-part harmony with them! James and the Giant Peach was fantastic – I played Keyboard in the pit orchestra for that as well which was tough since I didn’t have much time to learn the score. It all came together in the end though and we had a fabulous three-night run during the festival weekend at camp.

Moving onto this session, I am the Musical Director for a show called Junie B Jones and along with my other MD, we have taught just over half the show in twelve one-hour rehearsals! Our dress rehearsal is next week; I am busy learning the piano score for the show as I will be playing in the pit for that show too.

That’s about all I have for now. I will bring another update after this session ends!


Read the first entry in Hannah’s American Diary here.

Hannah’s American Diary: part One

University Music Performance Scholar Hannah Ost is currently working in New York at the French Woods Festival  for the Performing Arts as part of Camp America. Alongside her busy schedule, she’s keeping a festival diary for the rest of us to enjoy: here’s the first instalment…


Tuesday 10 July

It’s been almost a month since I landed in the US so I thought I would update you on what I have been doing at French Woods Festival here in New York!

In the morning, I teach voice lessons to whoever wants to sign up. I have had as little as two students in two hours and as many as nine (which was a crazy day!)

After lunch, I am the Assistant Musical Director for two shows: James and the Giant Peach and a rewrite of Snow White which I have helped rewrite some music for. I mainly teach the solo numbers, while the Primary MD teaches ensemble songs. I’ll be playing the Keys 2 part in the pit band for the first.

I have also been given my assignment for the next session, which begins next week. I’m going to be the Primary Musical Director for a show called Junie B Jones and I’ll be playing Keys 1 and conducting the pit band for that show too!

I’ll keep you posted…

How music enhances learning: an article in Neuroscience News

A fascinating article in Neuroscience News looks at neuroscience research that links learning music with enhanced cognitive abilities.

A variety of research literature has been drawn together from all over the world, and seems to suggest that learning music enhances both cognitive as well as speech, attention and memory skills.

Playing an instrument primes the brain to choose what is relevant in a complex process that may involve reading or remembering a score, timing issues and coordination with other musicians.

The report author,  Nina Krauss, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, suggests also that there are “strong implications for education,” and also for aiding neural processes in children with learning disorders.

Read the full article here.

Feeling the heat: Open Day brings musical students to Colyer-Fergusson

Despite the twin threat of soaring summer temperatures and the quarter-final match as this year’s England football squad edge ever closer to the World Cup Final, last Saturday’s University Open Day brought visitors aplenty both to the Canterbury campus as well as to Colyer-Fergusson.

Amongst the visitors filing through the doors of the music building were people from Somerset, Devon, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Hertfordshire as well as from London and Kent itself; however, the prize for the Visitor from the Farthest-Flung Shore went to a lady from Paris.

Thanks to some of our loyal Music Scholars and student ambassadors (pictured above), who took the time to lead tours of the building and its facilities for extra-curricular music-making, sharing their experience of combining their academic studies with their musical life, and to Fleur, President of the Music Society for the next academic year.

To everyone who visited, hope you had a safe trip home – hopefully the roads at 3pm, when the day closed, were rather quiet for you…

Exhibition celebrates the construction of Colyer-Fergusson

The gallery is currently hosting the exhibition of photographs charting the construction of Colyer-Fergusson, originally created as part of our five-year anniversary celebrations marking 2017-18 as the half-decade since we opened our doors at the end of 2012.

The exhibition, on display throughout the summer, is open during normal working hours, admission is free, and there is disabled access.

Strings on tour: String Sinfonia performing in CAST Gala concert

If you missed the String Sinfonia’s trip to Canada last month then fear not; here is the group performing Elgar’s Serenade for Strings as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto’s Gala concert, directed by Floriane Peycelon.

The performance was the culmination of the ensemble’s five-day visit to Canada, which also saw them give a  Classical Connections concert at Toronto’s Varley Art Gallery, as part of the gallery’s recent exhibition.

With thanks to CAST Administrator, Lily Cheng, for the footage.

Fiercely committed playing: Tasmin Little opens StEdsFest

The newly-refurbished hall at St Edmund’s School bore witness last night to a bravura concert from violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Martin Roscoe, on the opening night of the school’s second summer festival.

The programme opened with a fiercely committed reading of Brahms’ Sonatensatz, alive to the drama of the turbulent opening, followed by a finely-crafted performance of Beethoven’s Sonata no.10 Op 96, in which both violinist and pianist were alert to every nuance. An exquisite rendition of Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera opened the second half, which concluded with Franck’s epic Violin Sonata, an impassioned delivery, emotionally generous and brilliantly executed.

A riotous ovation from a packed, enthusiastic audience drew the performers back for two encores; a crafty Brahms Hungarian Dance full of wit and gypsy sass, and Salut d’amour by Elgar that brought a towering recital to a beautifully lyrical close. A terrific way to open this year’s St Edmund’s festival, which continues until 3 July.

Concert photos © Peter Cook / St Edmund’s School