Home About Kent Music Summer School

Kent Music Summer School returns for summer 2024!

Thursday 11th July – Monday 29th July 2024 | Benenden School, Cranbrook
Residential courses for students aged 8 – 19

Following an amazing Summer School in 2023, the whole team are thrilled to be back at Benenden School for another fantastic few weeks of music making in 2024. Young musicians of all ages will be coming together musically and socially in the beautiful surroundings of Benenden School, with performances taking place in the Benenden Theatre and the purpose built ‘Centenary Hall’.

This year we’re delighted to launch a brand-new and much-requested Piano course as well as a one-day Symphony Orchestra Experience Day so that even more young people can make music at Benenden!

All our courses are popular and spaces are limited, so we recommend early booking. Find out more about the courses through the links below.

We can’t wait to see you this summer!

What course is right for me?

No matter what kind of music you make, we’ve got a summer school course tailored just for you! Here’s a guide to help you decide which course aligns best with your instrument and skill level.

Piano players

Junior: Music Explorers

Mixed: Piano, Jazz, Song Writing

Expand your horizons: Summer SingingMusical Theatre


Junior: Music Explorers

Mixed: Song Writing

Expand your horizons: Summer Singing, Musical Theatre


Junior: Summer Singing

Mixed: Musical Theatre

Expand your horizons: Song Writing

About each course

Dates: 24th – 26th July
Ages: 8 – 19
Level: Grade 2+

Join the Jazz course to explore a range of Jazz styles in groups of various sizes. Players are encouraged to contribute to the creative process and are given freedom to experiment and develop improvisation techniques supported all the way by professional jazz musicians!

Dates: 13th – 14th July
Ages: 8 – 13
Level: Beginner (some experience of instrumental tuition necessary) to grade 2

The Music Explorers course is ideal for all young instrumentalists at the start of their musical journey. Teaching essential ensemble skills as well as introducing creativity and improvisation, Explorers is a fun and supportive intro to ensemble playing.

Dates: 18th – 22nd July
Ages: School year 7+
Level: Open to all levels – no experience required

Sing, dance, act and have fun – the key elements of this very popular five-day course.

Repertoire is selected from rock opera, contemporary and concept musicals, juke box and light opera. The course includes workshops on physical theatre, improvisation and audition techniques which makes this a must for all Musical Theatre enthusiasts.

Dates: 24th – 26th July
Ages: School year 7+
Level: Open to all levels – no experience required

This course provides the opportunity for participants to work individually and collaboratively to develop their song writing skills under the guidance of song writing experts. The course includes song structure, lyric writing, arrangement and instrumentation, in a supportive and creative environment.

Dates: 20th – 21st July
Ages: School year 7+
Level: Grades 4 – 6

Perfect for intermediate learners, this course gives participants a great mix of duet playing, performance skills, and technique improvement. Enjoy playing piano with others, work on your pieces, and explore music beyond grades. Participants will enjoy a supportive and varied learning space with personal and group practice.

Dates: 27th – 29th July
Ages: 8 – 13
Level: Open to all levels – no experience required

Enthusiastic young singers can take their singing to the next level by singing with like-minded young people from across the county. Participants will sing accessible and engaging music in a fun environment, supported by professional tutors.

Dates: 24th – 26th July
Ages: 8 – 19
Level: Grades 1-5

This course focuses on the further development of ensemble playing skills in a fun and friendly atmosphere. Participants will benefit from sectional and full rehearsals, ability-focused tuition and plenty of support as they play with like-minded peers.

Dates: 18th – 23rd July
Ages: 8 – 19
Level: Grade 5+

This course provides the opportunity for more advanced musicians to play in a full symphony orchestra. Under the expert guidance of professional orchestral players, participants will develop their technique and ensemble playing abilities.

Dates: 20th July
Ages: 11 – 19
Level: Grades 4+

This course is an ideal opportunity for orchestral instrument players to have a taste of what the next stage of their musical journey could be! During the day, students will play alongside members of the KMSS Symphony Orchestra. The day will allow them to play in a full symphony orchestra in a fun, relaxing, and supportive environment.

Dates: 11th – 16th July
Ages: 8 – 19
Level: Grade 2+

Woodwind, brass and percussion players will experience playing alongside others in a large ensemble under the expert guidance of wind band professionals. In sectional and full rehearsals, participants will play a broad range of repertoire, develop their technique and enhance their ensemble playing skills in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find some of the most commonly-asked questions about Kent Music Summer School. If you have a question which isn’t listed here, then please get in touch with the team at the button below!

How to Apply

Each booking will be processed on receipt of an online application form. To apply please, follow the ‘Apply Here’ links on your chosen course’s webpage, linked above and in our digital brochure.

Bookings will be acknowledged within 7 working days of receipt. Once your booking is confirmed you will be sent an invoice for the deposit payment. A non-refundable deposit of £35 is required within 5 working days of receiving your invoice to secure your place. Please do not make a payment until you have received your confirmation email and invoice. If you do not pay the deposit within 5 working days your place will be released, and you will have to reapply for the course.

Early booking is strongly recommended to secure your place. If a course (or section of a course) is full, your booking will be placed on a waiting list and you will be advised if a place becomes available.  If Kent Music is unable to offer a place, all your related fees will be refunded.

Please find full application terms and conditions by clicking here.

Are auditions required?

Auditions are not required. Placement in groups will be made after careful consideration of the standard and experience of the student as indicated on the booking form together with the need to ensure instrumental and vocal balance. Experience and grades for courses indicate the level of ability required. It is not necessary to have taken grade exams but students must be studying at the level given.

My child has special educational needs or a disability - can they still attend?

We aim to make courses accessible for all to attend. Please contact us at kmss@kent-music.com to discuss your child’s requirements before completing an application.

What if school is still in session on the course dates?

Your child’s head teacher may grant permission to attend Kent Music Summer School and generally head teachers are very keen to permit attendance.

If your child is due to attend school when the course takes place, please ensure you inform your school in good time and follow their normal procedure for authorised absence (code B). School absence Code B covers approved educational activities and courses which take place away from the school site.

We are always happy to talk with schools to answer any questions that they may have.

What if my child has another commitment during the course?

We understand sometimes there are existing commitments to school or for music exams where they may need to arrive late or be off-site for a time during the course. Please ask for an off-site/late arrival request form from kmss@kent-music.com

How much does it cost?

All course costs are listed on their relevant pages – see links above.

Why can’t a full refund be given for withdrawal?

We must employ staff and give expected course attendance numbers approx. 6 weeks before the start of KMSS. This means that by 1st June, Kent Music is committed to financial outlay on your behalf for the booked place on course.

For this reason, it is essential you read and understand the cancellation and refund terms to know your entitlement.

After 31st May 2024, we are unable to give a full refund. In exceptional circumstances e.g. student illness or accident, where a doctor and/or hospital certificate is provided to support the withdrawal, we will only retain the £35 deposit.

How do I access financial assistance?

We have a Financial Assistance scheme for those who need additional support to attend Kent Music activities, including lessons, groups, courses and Summer School.

If you require financial assistance for Kent Music Summer School courses, please visit our Financial Assistance webpage at www.kent-music.com/financial-assistance/. You will need to download a form specifically for County Groups courses and return it to our team – full instructions for this are on the Financial Assistance webpage.

Please note that an application for Financial Assistance should be submitted at the same time as your KMSS course application.

If you would like further information about County Programmes financial assistance, please contact Valerie Cordina, County Programmes Manager, at vcordina@kent-music.com. If you are unable to secure financial assistance for KMSS, a full refund of any associated fees already paid will be given.

What is included in the fee?

Here is a list of some items covered by the fee: Tuition, music, music stands, accommodation, bedding, towels, food and drink (breakfast/lunch/dinner/3 refreshment sessions per full day), pastoral team, nurse, student welfare officer, use of leisure facilities, sports team, free access to end of course performances.

All courses are partially subsidised by a grant from Kent County Council, helping us make KMSS accessible to as many young musicians as possible.

Who are the staff?

The Music Team of conductors, tutors, accompanists, vocal and instrumental coaches are experts in their field. A qualified child safeguarding officer, nurse and a team of experienced pastoral staff are present throughout.

Our Pastoral Team are experienced in supporting young people during their stay ensuring their safety, comfort and well-being throughout. Pastoral team members stay in the same accommodation houses as the students so there is always someone on hand to help if needed. We engage a Student Welfare Officer who remains on-site during all courses and is available should any student wish to talk with someone other than from the music or pastoral team.

All Kent Music Summer School and Benenden School staff members have Full Disclosure DBS certificates and are current with Child Safeguarding training. In addition to an on-site nurse, many of the team have first aid training.

What is the accommodation like?

Benenden School is in a 240-acre beautiful parkland site in the heart of the Kent countryside and the school facilities are exceptional. Accommodation is mainly individual rooms with shared bathroom facilities. Catering is of the standard you would expect from this prestigious school.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided each full day as well as refreshments at the morning, afternoon and evening break times. Leisure facilities include tennis courts and a varied range of indoor and outdoor supervised games and sports activities such as rounders, cricket and frisbee. There is also a small shop on site.

What do I need to bring with me?

You only need to bring your personal items for the length of your course. Bedding, food and towels will be provided.

You will also need to bring your own instrument (if required for the course). If you already own instrument accessories, e.g. mute, please bring them with you. If you play a bowed string instrument, please bring spare strings. We do have access to a small allocation of instruments if you don’t have your own.

Please contact kmss@kent-music.com when you make your application if you need us to provide an instrument. Instrument hire will incur a small additional cost which will be a maximum of £15.00 (depending on length of hire and instrument type). Instrument hire will be free of charge to students in receipt of financial assistance.

Is the food provided suitable for children with allergies or specific dietary requirements?

A wide selection of food is available at each of the daily meals –breakfast, lunch and supper. There is a variety of milks available – almond, soya, hazelnut as well as skimmed and semi skimmed. There is also a separate toaster provided for gluten-free bread and there are gluten-free and vegetarian options available at all mealtimes.

Food served at the counter is nut-free. If you require a different diet, e.g. vegan, this can be provided as long as we are given sufficient notice. The registration form you will be asked to complete will give you the opportunity of letting us know your requirements. All food is labelled with allergen symbols e.g. sesame, crustaceans, molluscs and eggs.

Can my child be non-residential?

It is our belief young musicians gain maximum benefit from being residential where they can join both the musical and social aspects of the course. If you prefer them not to stay overnight, this can be arranged however, please bear in mind you would need to drop-off at 8.45am and collect at 8.15pm each day except for the first morning and post-concert collection.

NB. there is no reduction in fee for being non-residential.

Please email kmss@kent-music.com if you would like your child to attend on a non-residential basis.

What time do courses start?

Registration on the first day is between 9:00 and 10:30am. We will let you know of your specific registration time in advance.

Check out highlights from all our KMSS 2023 courses:

About KMSS – ‘The Benenden Experience’

Kent Music Summer School has been a part of the summer experience for young musicians for over 70 years. Find out more about the summer school, it’s history and what it’s like to attend, below.

The summer school has been running at Benenden School since 1947 and, although it began aimed at adults, thousands of children have since taken part in a range of courses , from wind bands to musical theatre.

The focus of the Summer School music courses is for young people to have fun while being encouraged and motivated to improve, supported by professional tutors and an experienced pastoral team.

It’s not all rehearsing, though. During free time, students can play music in smaller groups, join organised activities, explore the grounds or relax in the boarding house common room. In break times and evenings, students from across the courses will mingle – pianists and musical theatre performers, symphony orchestra players with brand new music explorers, and more.

Kent Music Summer School Manager Phill Hyde said: “From the moment you arrive at the Kent Music Summer School your ‘Benenden Experience’ begins – an environment where music and enjoyment are allowed to flourish for all that attend.”

Students from all backgrounds and ages can attend a summer music experience that has stood the test of time.

The ‘Benenden Experience’, as it has become affectionately known, has evolved over the years and now provides courses for students with no previous musical experience (such as summer singing or musical theatre) right through to more advanced courses (such as the Symphony Orchestra and the Wind Band courses).

“Kent Music Summer School is a place that allows children’s creativity to shine around others that share a similar passion and interest. Music knows no boundaries and has the ability to reach out and connect to everyone regardless of age or background.”

Among KMSS alumnus are Michael Seal, Associate Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Philip Sawyers, British composer of orchestral and chamber music, Andrew Cottee, an award-winning British composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor, Sam Hall, music lyricist and children’s musical director/rock coach at School of Rock the Musical London.

There are musicians in almost every professional orchestra in the country who have had the Benenden experience, along with those in all genres of music, including jazz, rock and folk.

Many young musicians use the summer schools as a springboard to move onto national representation such as the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Choir.

However, it’s not just for those wanting to move on to become professional musicians – KMSS is a place for everyone to enjoy themselves and enrich their summers, making friends and memories to last a lifetime!

Meet County Groups

The KMSS courses are not the only music courses Kent music organises at Benenden School during the summer.

Kent Music also run three county groups who meet during July and August. Kent Youth Wind Orchestra and Kent Youth Choir summer courses run alongside KMSS which offers a great opportunity for students to see and hear the advanced groups in action, get some tips and be inspired!

Find out more below.

Our county groups represent the best Kent has to offer in youth music ensembles, and work with experienced professional tutors and conductors to develop their skills and perform at concerts throughout the year.

We are very proud that many of our county group members move on to further advance their music studies at college, university as well as into national music groups such as the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and National Youth Orchestra.

Many of our group members started their journeys to be top young musicians in the county right here at Kent Music Summer School.

From Summer Strings to KCYO, song writing to KYC, or Music Explorers to KYWO , starting at Summer School can lead to amazing places!

Kent Youth Wind Orchestra (KYWO)
KYWO is for woodwind, brass and percussion players in year 7 and above (maximum age 19) who have reached a minimum standard of grade 6 on their instrument. Their summer course runs alongside the KMSS Wind Band and Music Explorers courses.

Kent Youth Choir (KYC)
KYC is for singers covering the full vocal range in year 9 and above (maximum age 21). Although sight singing is not a pre-requisite, it is a skill that each member acquires and develops over time. The KYC summer course runs alongside the KMSS Summer Singing course.

Kent County Youth Orchestra (KCYO)
KCYO is for orchestral players in year 8 and above (maximum age 21) who play at grade 7 level or higher. Their summer course this year will take place at Benenden School during the first week of August.

If you would like to find out more about any of the county groups, how to join or where and when they perform, visit www.kent-music.com/county-groups/ or contact us at countygroups@kent-music.com

Questions about Kent Music Summer School? Get in touch at the button below: