Music at Kent College

Music is at the heart of Kent College and our splendid music department offers a broad range of opportunity to pupils of all ages and abilities. Working within a positive and vibrant environment, our aim is for music to be both fun and productive, ensuring that pupils perform and progress to the best of their abilities. Three members of staff, as well as a dedicated team of visiting music teachers are fully committed to both the enjoyment of music and promoting the highest standards. Many pupils learn a musical instrument, and numerous musical events take place throughout the school year. In addition, our GTX Arts Scholarship Programme ensures that musical talent is developed and nurtured to its full extent while pupils are at Kent College.

The Department is housed in its own purpose-built Music School and has outstanding facilities, including teaching and practice rooms, two large rehearsal rooms, and a recording studio. There is a comprehensive stock of instruments available to pupils including two grand pianos, drum kits and orchestral percussion, a pedal harp and a two-manual pipe organ in the school Chapel.

The quality and breadth of music-making at Kent College is evident in both public and school performances, from recent productions of musicals such as 'Oklahoma!' and 'Little Women' to individual performances by talented soloists at the annual concert given in the University of Kent’s Colyer Fergusson concert hall. Many musicians from Kent College go on to further studies in music at one of the specialist colleges or at university, including the Royal College of Music, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Students are able to perform in our new state-of-the-art 600 seat auditorium, the Great Hall which also hosts a number of local events including the Canterbury Festival.

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Music Department

Senior Choir and Choral Society – Brahms ‘How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair’

Hannah Parry – Mozart Violin Concerto in A Major

Finn Gape plays Brahms – Crowther Competition, 2018

Sedecim – Will Todd ‘I Am Changed’
  • Music Department Staff

  • Choirs

  • Instrumental ensembles

  • Musical excellence and scholarships

  • Music lessons

Director of Music Mr Julian Ross BMus (Hons), PGCE
Teacher of Music & Technology Mr Jonathan Shillito, BMus(Hons), BEng(Hons), PPRNCM, PGCE
Director of Junior School Music Mrs Jackie Spencer GRSM (Hons)

Julian Ross started his musical education as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral and later studied the organ with David Saint at the Birmingham Conservatoire, gaining a first class music degree and winning the BMus course prize. Whilst furthering his studies at the University of Durham, he was Organ Scholar at University College, where as well as playing the organ he directed the Chapel Choir. As a singer he has been a Choral Scholar at Lichfield Cathedral, a member of ‘Ex Cathedra’ and currently sings as a Deputy Lay Clerk at Canterbury Cathedral. Prior to taking up his position at Kent College in 2010, he was Director of Music at Arnold School in Blackpool and previously Assistant Director of Music at Blundell's School in Devon. As well as working extensively as a conductor of instrumental and choral groups, he is an experienced teacher of GCSE, A level and IB music, and is proud to have guided many students successfully towards studying music beyond school at leading Universities and Conservatoires.

Mr Julian Ross, Director of Music

Mr John Shillito, Teacher of Music & Technology

John Shillito began playing the Spanish Guitar at the age of 8. He holds an engineering degree in Electronics and Music Technology from Leeds Metropolitan University and furthered his musical studies at The Royal Northern College of Music, specialising in the Spanish Guitar. He was a founding member of the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, performing all over the UK as well as many festivals including the Jersey Arts Festival. He has played in numerous bands and worked in recording studios as both an artist and engineer. He is a keen composer and producer of electronic music and his work has been featured on Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music.

Jackie Spencer has been Director of Music at Kent College Junior School for 15 years. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, her principal study was piano with second study violin. She teaches class music throughout the Junior School, directs the Junior School Choir, Kent College Choristers and the Junior School Orchestra as well as running the GREAT Music programme for accelerated learning. She is an experienced choir trainer and conductor. Her reputation as a first-class trainer of young voices is reflected in the achievements of the various choirs under her direction, in particular the Kent College Choristers, who have a national and international reputation. The high standard of the choirs and orchestra at the Junior School is a testament to the work done in class music, beginning in Early Years and continuing throughout the school, with its emphasis on practical music-making. Her enthusiasm and commitment creates a vibrant music department with a Junior Choir of over 90 children, and the majority of pupils taking instrumental or singing lessons.

For information about our team of Visiting Music Teachers please click the "MUSIC LESSONS" section below:

A student show the school uniform
Mrs Spencer with the Kent College Choristers
  • Kent College Choristers (Junior School and Year 7)
  • Cantabile (Years 7-9)
  • Sedecim (Years 10-13)
  • Senior Choir (Years 10-13)
  • Choral Society (Staff, parents, friends and OCs)

The Kent College Choristers have enjoyed a proud record of success in national competitions, most recently as runners-up in the Barnado’s School Choir Competition (2018), and as televised finalists in BBC Songs of Praise ‘Junior Choir of the Year’ (2018). The senior chamber choir, Sedecim, recently sang Evensong in Winchester and Canterbury Cathedrals, and the Cantabile choir performs regularly in the community. In the past few years our choirs have toured to Austria, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Estonia and Budapest.

On a larger scale, our school Senior Choir and Choral Society join forces each year for the annual concert in the Colyer Fergusson Hall, with recent performances including Karl Jenkins’ ‘The Armed Man’ and Howard Goodall’s ‘Eternal Light’, Handel’s ‘Messiah’, ‘Gloria’ by Vivaldi and by John Rutter, and Dan Forrest’s ‘Requiem for the Living’. Each year a full scale musical is staged in collaboration with the Drama Department, and a summer open-air opera production is performed at the end of the school year – recent highlights have included ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and ‘Trial by Jury’.

Senior Choir and Choral Society perform in the Colyer Fergusson Hall
A student show the school uniform
Trial by Jury

Cantabile – ‘Christmas’ by Annalise Roy

Sedecim, Senior Choir and Choral Society – Dan Forrest Requiem for the Living
  • Full orchestra
  • Concert band
  • Jazz band
  • String quartets (junior and senior)
  • Folk group
  • Saxophone ensemble
  • Flute groups

Our orchestra rehearses throughout the year for various events, including a major public performance at the Colyer Fergusson Hall, as well as the lighter-hearted ‘Joy to the World’ Christmas extravaganza. The department also promotes a series of informal Teatime and Lunchtime concerts, and a range of competitions for all musicians. For our Rock and Pop groups, the annual Band Night is always a highlight. Our highest achieving musicians are offered further platforms, including the opportunity to perform as soloists with an orchestra.

Orchestra – Strauss ‘Die Fledermaus’


The GTX Arts Scholarship Programme plays an important part in ensuring that talented pupils are given the support and advice necessary for their development during their time at Kent College. This includes access to excellent individual voice and instrumental teaching from our Visiting Music Teachers, many opportunities to perform both individually and in ensembles, and opportunities to work with professional coaches in our series of occasional masterclasses.

A number of generous Music Scholarships are offered each year and details of how to apply can be found here. The Director of Music, Julian Ross is always available for an informal chat to discuss how Kent College can shape your child’s future in music.

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