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Kent Music Conference 2023

Kent Music Conference 2023: Designing Your Musical Universe

With the theme ‘Designing Your Musical Universe’ the day focuses on creating that wonderful inclusive and welcoming musical space in your setting that students gravitate towards.

Monday 20 November | 09:30 – 16:00 | Kent Event Centre, Maidstone

This will be a valuable, engaging and inspiring day for educators from across the county to come together to learn and expand their musical horizons.

“The Music Department is an alternate universe where pupils are often unrecognisable from who they are outside of it. The shy become confident. The agitated become calm. The lonely become included. The quiet become heard. And the lost become found. Music reveals the real child.” – Vaughan Fleischfresser

Conference timetable

The full day will include:

  • Workshops, speakers and interactive discussions with content for infant, primary, secondary and special schools – but designed so any teacher can attend any session
  • Keynote speech from Vaughan Fleischfresser
  • A host of other talented music education professionals – full details below
  • A full expo of music and education organisations offering advice and support
  • Lunch, snacks and drinks provided throughout the day

Tickets are free for teachers from schools in Kent, and £35 for teachers from schools outside of Kent (including Medway) or independent schools. They are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so make sure to claim your place early!

Keynote speaker Vaughan Fleischfresser

Designing Your Musical Universe

This session will explore the importance of the world we create for our students, and the impact it has on their lives while at school and beyond it. I will also seek to remind us all of the importance of what we do and why we do it. After all, there is no better job in the world than that of a Music Teacher.   

Vaughan Fleischfresser is an internationally recognised music educator who has worked at every age and stage of music education from nursery through to university. He currently divides his time between being a primary music specialist, conductor of community ensembles, and an educational speaker.  

 Vaughan currently teaches music at the Edinburgh Academy in Scotland, having most recently been the Teaching Fellow of Music Education and the University of Edinburgh. In addition to this he works extensively with Community Music groups throughout Scotland.  

 Connect Vaughan on his Twitter profile. 

Vaughan says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
Helping to bring the immense joys and benefits of music into the lives of as many people as possible.  

 What do you hope people will get from your session?   
A personal and professional boost, and to be reminded of why we do what we do, and why it’s so important.  

 How would you describe your approach to music/music ed?  
Fun, focused, and inclusive.  

 What’s on your playlist right now?
Whatever my children are listening to.  

Morning workshops

What is a Singing Assembly? – Shivani Rattan of The Voices Foundation

Shivani Rattan is a Choral Conductor and Mezzo-Soprano based in London. Most recently, Shivani has joined the all-female vocal quintet Papagena and sings with London Voices. She is a graduate of Royal Holloway where she held a Choral Scholarship and directed The Founder’s Choir. Recently, her Three Indian Celebration Songs were published by Sing for Pleasure. They are designed for educational use and hope to diversify music education through fun layering songs. 

 Shivani works for Brent Music Service as their Choral Co-ordinator as well as other organisations such as The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain (Assistant Conductor), Tenebrae (Singing Schools Workshop Leader), Voices Foundation (Choral Practitioner), Ark Music (Artist), Sing for Pleasure (Trainee Tutor, Communications & Social Media lead). With The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Shivani was a Fellow in 2021.  

 Her session for the conference will include tips on getting confident using singing at school, repertoire and conducting. 

Shivani says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
My favourite thing about music education is all of the serotonin in the room when everyone is singing and having a great time. Plus meeting educators from different places and learning from each other.

What do you hope people will get from your session?
After my session I hope that people can feel more confident using singing in the classroom at any time of the day and have a bigger bank of repertoire to pull ideas from.

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?
My approach to music education is for everyone, providing excellence and achievement no matter what the ability level is in the room. Inclusion is my top priority when teaching or leading.

What’s on your playlist right now?
The album I’m obsessed with at the moment is ‘My 21st Century Blues’ by RAYE! Really thoughtful lyrics which are super relevant to what the world is going through. 

Supporting Students with Lyric Writing – Yasmin Ali, International Slam Champion, Performance Poet and Writer

Y.A is an International Slam Champion, Performance Poet, Writer and facilitator from London.

Yasmin is considered to be one of the most highly sought after spoken word artists on the UK scene. Yasmin works with a range of  projects mentoring and facilitating workshops.

Yasmin uses rap, lyricism, spoken word and poetry to encourage self expression, advocation and story telling through words and music. Yasmin’s workshops improve confidence, inspire, uplift and empower participants.

Y.A has toured internationally in Europe and the US. Proud mental health advocate, youth participation advocate and women’s rights activist, Y.A heavily campaigns for an end to gender based violence against women and girls.

Yasmin says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
My favourite thing from music ed is learning from the young people, discovering their interests and aspirations whilst exploring the evolution of both music and lyrics. I love hosting a space for the participants to produce work from a place of originality and authenticity.

What do you hope people will get from your session?
I hope people will get an opportunity to connect with their creativity and feel comfortable using music and lyrics to express themselves. To understand the importance of advocation through art or honouring experiences.

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?
My approach to music/music ed is innovative, it challenges stereotypes and changes narratives. It allows participants to feel empowered, it increases confidence, it encourages self expression, stands for representation and affirms everyone’s right to access music education.

What’s on your playlist right now?
Higher by Madison Ryan
Serrado by the Quarteto Em Cy
and Grandma’s Place by Jah Digga, Ghetts, Georgia Copeland

Inclusive Ensembles – Ben Sellers of Transformance Music

How can we support pupils with additional learning needs in ensemble provision in mainstream and specialist settings? What new instruments could we use? How can technology support access? How do we balance process and product? How can we adapt repertoire, notation and communication methods? How can we ensure equity of access to group musicking for all pupils?  All this and more in Ben’s Inclusive Ensemble session… 

 Ben Sellers is a teacher, trainer and writer. His work is focussed on future technologies and improving access to high-quality creative opportunities for young people with additional learning and access needs. Author of the ‘Teaching Music with Garageband for iPad’ textbook, he has led major technology and inclusion projects with organisations including Drake Music, the Tokyo and BBC Symphony Orchestras and the RCM.  

Ben says…

What do you hope people will get from your session?
Most colleagues have experience of playing in ensembles themselves; that feeling of everybody being locked into the groove together, pulling out the heart of the music and connecting with everyone else in the space through sound. I want the young people I work with experience this for themselves, no matter their background or access requirements. I will to share some ways I have found to achieve this, and hope that delegates will leave with both the excitement to have a go themselves, and some possible pathways to get there.

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?
Embodied and improvisatory, alert to moments of magic.

What’s on your playlist right now?
All Cats Are Beautiful, Stella Chiweshe, Chris Isaak

Post-lunch workshops

Classroom 200 – Emma Harding and Hilary Smethurst-Evans of ABRSM

Incorporating Classroom 200 into your teaching 
Join Emma and Hilary in this exciting workshop to learn more about ABRSM’s free resource Classroom 200. You’ll explore lesson plans designed for pupils aged 5-14 and consider how you can make the most of this repertoire in your lessons. You’ll also have a chance to hear the latest about what ABRSM is doing to support your own development as a teacher with ABRSM’s Teacher Hub.  

Emma Harding 
Emma Harding is a flautist, music educator and workshop leader. Emma studied music at the University of Manchester (BMus) and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music (MA flute performance) and currently teaches Kodály at the Junior Guildhall School of Music. Emma works in numerous primary schools and music centres in London, teaching whole class music, instrumental lessons (whole class/group/individual), leading choirs and conducing ensembles. Her teaching is rooted in the Kodály approach to music education, where she also leads mentoring programmes for both classroom teachers and music specialists, notably devising an afterschool musicianship programme. Emma also enjoys performing chamber and orchestral music, as well as leading parent/baby music sessions. She also leads workshops for Live Music Now working on projects in SEND schools. In addition, in 2021 Emma completed a yoga teacher qualification and now teaches weekly classes online and in person.  

 Hilary Smethurst-Evans 
Hilary started her learning journey in West Berkshire with much of her early music education in local wind bands and orchestras, before she progressed to play saxophone in the National Youth Wind Orchestra and European Union Youth Wind Orchestra. Having graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Hilary completed a Post-Graduate diploma, Masters Degree and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. She knew early in her training that she wanted to teach and pass on her love of music to others and Hilary has taught for different music services since graduating. As well as helping pupils she finds working with fellow teachers and professionals hugely inspiring and has recently joined ABRSM as their Curriculum Manager. She is currently studying for her Doctor of Education and in her free time enjoys baking, visiting the West End and taking holidays.  

Rappin' The Classroom – Francis Winston

Francis Winston , a classically trained composer, arranger, musician (vocalist, saxophonist, clarinettist) and music teacher with over 25 years of extensive experience in both youth music education and the music industry. He holds a BA (Hons) Music, PGCE and MA Music Education.

Amongst many other endeavours, created and led a 15-piece Hip Hop-Jazz-Funk band ‘Souljahz’ for 10 years of which he was the main writer, vocalist and saxophonist.

He also composed and toured two Hip Hoperas (musicals) to the Edinburgh Fringe and New York city, built recording studios, produced and managed many young vocalists that have successful careers in the music industry.

Francis says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
Continuing the legacy with young people and sharing the joy of this wonderful art form of life.

What do you hope people will get from your session?
How musical rap is, how complex it is and of course, how to teach it!

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?
Flexible and fun, my motto has always been ‘love, life, and the pursuit of the groove..’

What’s on your playlist right now?
Masego, Ezra Collective and Little Sims

Song writing and Neurodiversity – Paul of Square Pegs Arts

EYFS Music – Kelly Reynolds of Mini Maestros

Mini Maestros Music shares an approach to learning that is in line with the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS). The sessions use this more holistic approach within music practice to intrinsically link musical activity and a child’s development and while the sessions are adult-led, they are child-responsive meaning that I am always watching and responding to each child’s musical intentions.  At Mini Maestros Music, we agree with the EYFS framework that every child is unique and work hard to ensure that we create a welcoming environment that is in tune with each child’s needs which encourages them to build their learning over time.   

As well as being fun, engaging and developmentally and musically appropriate, the sessions are also high-quality performances in their own right. Following on from several successful funding bids from multiple funders, I have embarked on a journey to provide music sessions that are meaningful for the participants involved. This could be using songs or recorded music that they love and respond to, building meaningful interactions or using personalised observations and assessment criteria for each child to celebrate each child’s achievements.  

Kelly says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
I love how music can be used to support so many other subjects and skills and that it has the power to be inclusive. While everyone may not have access to or the ability to play an instrument, everyone can listen to music and has a voice and there are very few people who don’t have a strong connection to a genre or piece of music.  Music, particularly in children and young people, can be transformative.

What do you hope people will get from your session?
I hope that participants will feel encouraged to be more musical within their practice (and that’s not just singing!) and will be inspired to be more musically responsive in their teaching. I also hope they have fun!

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?

What’s on your playlist right now?
I am loving the Six soundtrack at the minute, but my playlist is a real mixed bag!

Closing workshops

What to do with your percussion trolley – Mike Simpson of Inspire Works

Facilitated by Mike Simpson, Inspire-Works’ Musical Director, this CPD session shows participants rhythms inspired by many cultures across the globe which can all sound great on instruments found at the bottom of a long-neglected music trolley.  

 Using Inspire-works’ model of workshop facilitating as a starting point, participants will have the opportunity to: 


  • new facilitation skills for whole-class percussion teaching 
  • how to use differentiation in a whole-class environment with different age groups 
  • how to repair or recycle classroom percussion instruments. 


  • in practical music-making activities to help enhance your own teaching 
  • in discussions with other like-minded facilitators/teachers 


  • techniques for aural teaching 
  • an understanding of appropriate music and pedagogy for different age groups 
  • creative assessment techniques for whole-class environments. 

Mike says…

What’s your favourite thing about music education?
Seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they play and hear sounds they’ve never heard before, particularly in our Caribbean steel pans and Indonesian gamelan workshops!

What do you hope people will get from your session?
I hope delegates will be inspired to fully use every instrument in their classroom music trolley, even the ones they don’t know the names of or how to play them at the moment!

How would you describe your approach to music or music education?
As inclusive as possible! Everyone who comes into the room gets an instrument to play (even inspectors!) as, particularly with percussion, it’s only through ‘doing it’ that we fully get to appreciate and enjoy the music. It’s always a team activity!

What’s on your playlist right now?
A band called Unified Sound who do Latin arrangements of contemporary worship songs. Their percussion and horn sections are outstanding and they always bring fresh arrangements to well-known songs.

Choir! – Emily Barden, Singer Songwriter, Vocal Leader and Workshop Facilitator

Emily Barden will lead an energetic and participatory session which looks at different ways to keep young singers engaged with singing and choirs at KS3 including vocal improvisation, building vocal confidence, changing voices, song arrangements, routes into song writing.

Emily currently works with a variety of organisations, leading workshops, projects and composing and co-creating large scale works that have been performed by thousands of young people. These include Sing Up, Trinity College, BrittenPears Arts, West Sussex Music, Norfolk Music Hub, The Philharmonia Orchestra, Blackheath Prep School, The Benedetti Foundation and many other Music Education Hubs and establishments around the country.  

 Inspired by artists including Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor and Paul McCartney, Emily is a contemporary pop/folk/country singer songwriter with a classic sound. 

She writes songs with stories, influenced by everyday life and encounters, as well as the landscape around her. She performs as a solo artist, playing guitar and piano, as well as working with varying band line ups.  

Emily regularly fronts her own original music project at gigs and festivals. 

 A love of harmony singing and a desire to bring contemporary, accessible choral singing to the masses has led Emily to establish several community choirs under the umbrella of West Sussex Sings. She is also one half of Umbria in Harmony, providing singing holidays in Italy and more recently, Northumbria where she grew up.  

 Emily runs workshops and courses for singers/songwriters as well as composition and song-writing training sessions for teachers, choral leaders and people working with young voices. Helping unlock the creativity of others and inspiring young people to find their own compositional voice is one of Emily’s greatest joys.  

Planning For Your Musical Universe; Writing your school’s vision for music – Liv Edwards, Senior Leader, Music Hub at Kent Music

This session is aimed to support non-specialist music leads know where to start. If you are new to role or are looking at how you can make change this year join Liv Edwards in this session to help you make a vision and a start on your school’s Music Development Plan.

All Day

Outreach Media Bus – Young Urban Arts Foundation

About the Outreach Media Bus

YUAF double-decker media bus works within communities for young people to drive their creativity in music production, lyric writing, podcasting and more.

They work with young people aged 8-19 years, bringing the youth engagement Outreach Media Bus to local estates, schools, and directly to where vulnerable young people are. They deliver a range of workshops and programmes that focus on young people’s mental wellbeing. The bus outreach programs offer a gateway to their Pathways service, to help build a journey for each young person.

Find out more on their website by clicking this link.

The bus will be onsite all day at the conference for you to experience!

About YUAF

Young Urban Arts Foundation (YUAF) is an East London based charity whose mission is to empower the lives of young people by strengthening their well-being and building opportunities through creativity and culture, ensuring that they are seen, heard and celebrated. 

Young people learn creative skills (music production, song/lyric writing, vocal recording, podcasting and DJing) and in doing so, build self-confidence and soft skills while improving their overall mental wellbeing. 

YUAF Empowers, a school based programme, delivers dynamic, fun and engaging group activities to help young people strengthen their mental wellbeing and make positive strides in their personal development.  

YUAF’s school programmes have shown: 

  • Reduction in behaviour points  
  • Reduced likelihood of exclusion 
  • Greater access for those with different learning styles

Of the 54 participants that took part in YUAF Empowers in Spring 2021:  

  • 81% felt the course had met their hopes and needs 
  • 80% had more belief in themselves as a result of the course 
  • 80% were already applying learnings from the course in their everyday lives 

 “It was fun while still being serious and helpful” – YUAF Empowers participant 

Secondary school students playing boomwhackers