Hannah’s American Diary: Part Three

The third part of Music Scholarship student Hannah Ost‘s summer diary at the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in New York…


I’ve just finished at camp and have so much to write about. It’s been so busy, I’ve had no time at all to blog! Here it is, my second session at camp, which brought lots of challenging hurdles to overcome.

I mentioned in my last diary entry that I was going to be the Musical Director and play piano in the pit band for the show Junie B Jones. Well, only 50% of that turned out to be true; I was the Musical Director for the show, but since we ended up using a drummer for the show as well, I decided to conduct and somebody else stepped in, to fill my shoes as pianist. It was a real learning experience to conduct both the musicians and the performers together, especially seeing as the performers were so young – the youngest was nine years old! Myself and my Co-MD, Nicole, taught the full score in what was effectively 24 hours (12 days of 2 hour rehearsals) and the show was a huge hit with parents, staff and campers alike. Definitely a highlight from my time at French Woods.

Again, I taught a lot of voice lessons and it was great to see how much the students learnt in just three, half-hour sessions.

That’s all for this post, I’ll post an update with all the details from my third and final session at camp soon!


Read the previous extract here.

Good musicians really do make good students!

Congratulations to everyone who graduated from the University in July, especially to the many musicians amongst the mortar-boards and gowns swirling around the Cathedral Precincts and celebrating their success. Included as part of the throng were the following:

Douglas Haycock, President of the Music Society 2017-18, Music Scholar reading Law
Lydia Cheng, Music Scholar reading Law
Benjamin Weiland, Music Performance Award holder reading Law
Alice Scott, Secretary of the Music Society, reading English and American Literature and Religious Studies
Imogen Willetts, Music Performance Award holder reading Classical and Archeological Studies and Drama

We wish them – and everyone else who graduated! – all the very best for the future.

Photos © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

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.