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Vision and Ethos

Our goal is to inspire pupils to be Change Makers who will shape positive futures for themselves, their families and the global community. Our world-class facilities support our educational aims and are shared with the wider community. We strive for excellence and celebrate achievement, valuing education as a journey and not a destination in the belief that all pupils can exceed their potential. Learning is learnable and everyone can improve.

Our aim is to encourage personal development by creating a flourishing, vibrant, cohesive, caring and socially inclusive community which embraces pluralism, diversity and intercultural understanding. We celebrate differences by giving everyone a voice and then listening to multiple viewpoints. It is our collective responsibility to develop the cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of everyone in our community.

We are committed to the development of character with particular emphasis on tolerance, resilience, honesty, humility, courage, compassion, gratitude and service. We attract and retain employees of the highest calibre. Stowe’s talented and committed workforce is one of our greatest strengths.

Music at Stowe

Opened in 2014, the Chung Music School includes the 200 seat Ugland Auditorium, two ICT suites running Logic Pro X and Sibelius 7 software (enhanced by Native Instruments Komplete plug-ins), a soundproofed Pro-Tools-equipped recording studio with tie lines to all other major spaces in the building, a well-resourced Music Library, and numerous practice and rehearsal rooms.

Stowe is an All-Steinway School featuring Steinways and Steinway-designed pianos (Boston and Essex models) in all teaching and practice rooms, including a piano teaching studio containing two Steinway Baby Grands, and a Model D Grand in the Recital Room.

The Music Department holds regular events and masterclasses for pupils given by world-class musicians including Atsuko Kawakami, Joanna MacGregor, Darius Brubeck and Ryan Carey-Hills, and has close relationships with a number of high profile artists such as Lang Lang who, during his visit in April 2015, was made Lifetime President of the Chung Music School.

There are around ninety musical events in the School year and it is not unusual for there to be several in any one week.

Regular concerts are given by the pupils, often during one of the School lunchtimes.

Major concerts take place throughout the year given by the Orchestra, Chapel Choir, Wind Band, Choral Society or other large ensembles.

In recent years, the Choral Society has performed Haydn’s Nelson Mass, the Mozart and Fauré Requiems, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. There is also an annual House Singing Competition in the Michaelmas Term, in which all Houses compete with both a unison and part-song component.

We have pupil organists at various levels, who work towards playing hymns for Chapel Services. The organ at Stowe is the second largest school chapel organ in the world, with four manuals and seventy-five stops. It is serviced and tuned regularly by Harrison’s of Durham with an ongoing maintenance programme in place.

The Department works closely with the Drama Department to produce music theatre productions and music for plays. The School premièred the UK Schools Version of Prodigy in 2019, originally commissioned by the National Youth Music Theatre, with whom we have close links.

In recent years the School has also put on very successful productions which involved pupils from our prep schools in supporting roles. In the Summer Term, ensembles and soloists perform for guests at Speech Day. There is also a large pop concert produced annually in the Summer Term, attended by most of the School. Featured guest artists for this concert have included Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet) and in 2022 we welcomed Tom Walker and Lulu.

We offer masterclasses in wind, brass, string, percussion, voice and keyboard. There are also numerous prep school and community outreach days. Pupils regularly participate in local and national competitions, including the local Milton Keynes Festival of Music and Drama, and the South East Schools Chamber Music Competition. We have excellent ABRSM and Trinity exam board results.

There is a Chapel Choir, currently consisting of around seventy pupils, who sing in the weekly Eucharist or Evensong services. They sing a wide range of repertoire mostly drawn from the Anglican choral tradition. They also sing a cappella and accompanied secular repertoire at various School and local events. Our two Pop Choirs perform throughout the year, including the annual Musical Theatre evening and as part of our Ensembles Concert.

The School currently has thirty-two Music Award Holders (either Scholars or Exhibitioners) who play a significant role by contributing to music at Stowe. Of these, most are working above, at or around Grade VIII level. The Music Department is outstanding in many respects, and most staff members are active professional musicians both locally and nationally with some high-profile organisations.

Academic Music

In the Third Form (Year 9), pupils receive one period (55 minutes) of Music each week; thereafter academic Music is available at GCSE, AS and A Level. The numbers taking GCSE and A Level Music are in line with or exceeding the national average and results are strong. Pupils follow the Eduqas syllabi for GCSE, AS and A Level Music and Edexcel for Music Technology.

The inclusive nature of the Eduqas course, especially at GCSE, ensures that pupils of all musical genres including popular music, DJing and sequencing are able to access top grades.

Music Technology

Stowe boasts state-of-the-art and unrivalled facilities for Music Technology. Pupils of any age can sign up for Music Production lessons, which are treated in the same way as peripatetic instrumental lessons. Three members of staff teach around fifty pupils per week, with numbers continually increasing. We offer Music Technology at A Level and all Music Technology pupils are involved in sound engineering for School concerts and productions.


Stowe’s Music Scholars are highly respected leaders in the School and play a vital role in its cultural life. As some of our busiest pupils, our musicians leave Stowe having learned and improved their organisational, leadership and team skills, as well as having developed their musical skill.

We are an All-Steinway School and are lucky to have facilities and teachers that rival many music colleges and universities. A number of awards are made each year, ranging from Exhibitions (free instrumental tuition on one or two instruments) to Scholarships (a Scholarship plus free instrumental tuition on two instruments).

A candidate’s musicianship and practice ethic will have a direct bearing on any award granted, and successful candidates will be expected to play a full and active role in the Department, including membership of our choirs. We accommodate additional practice time for award holders, with the flexibility to attend Junior Academy or the Royal College on Saturdays. Music Scholars are expected to study GCSE Music.

An early informal meeting with the Director of Music is highly recommended before you make an application. We recommend organising free consultation lessons in advance of an application.

To apply

Parents should obtain references from the candidate’s Head, Director of Music and their instrumental teachers. As an approximate guide, a Lower School Music Scholar (Year 9 entry) should have a merit or distinction at Grade 5 on at least one instrument and Senior School Scholars (Year 12 entry) should be Grade 8 standard on their first study instrument.

Assessment Day

• Interview with the Director of Music.

• An audition with a small panel of teachers from the Department.

• Performance of a piece on each main instrument

Our Staff

Emma Bryden

​MMus, BA RWCMD, PGDip Royal College of Music

Director of Music, Faculty Chair for Arts and Culture

Emma has over 12 years’ experience of leading music departments in independent co-educational day and boarding schools across England and Wales. Emma has over 20 years of experience as a freelance Cellist working with orchestras such as WNO, British Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Swan and Orchestra Europa. As a session musician, Emma has written string parts and recorded for Thunder, Tyketto, Public Service Broadcasting and Kitten Pyramid. She has recorded at studios such as Real World Studios, Rockfield Studios and Longwave Studios. Emma is currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on the topic of “The School Song: Creating identity through shared musical experience in UK independent day and boarding schools.”

Ben Andrew

BMus Trinity, London, LTCL, FTC
Head of Keyboard

Ben is a pianist, composer, graphic designer and app creator. He is passionate about music education. From composing music for film and television, orchestrating pop songs to performing concerti and giving solo recitals, Ben has established himself as a versatile musician across a variety of genres and mediums.

Ben is an author for Hal Leonard and he has written a number of publications which have been published worldwide. His arrangement of ‘Hatikvah’ is currently featured on the ABRSM grade 8 violin and Trinity grade 7 syllabus. He has given numerous performances both in the UK, Eastern Europe and East Asia at venues including St Martin in the Fields in London, The Pump Room in Bath, Óbudai Társaskör in Budapest, and the City Hall in Hong Kong. Ben also has an extensive concerto repertoire and notable performances include Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Rachmaninov’s 2nd and 3rd Piano Concertos. He recently gave a performance of Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto with the Alina orchestra in the Chapel at Stowe.

In addition to his strong interest in classical music, Ben is an experienced pop musician and has supported notable artists such as Tom Walker, the late Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), Rick Wakeman (Yes), and Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet). Ben’s recent co-write of ‘Not In My Name’, a rock song featuring guitar legend Bernie Marsden received airtime on BBC radio and LBC radio featured a live interview with Ben following its release. Ben is also the artistic creator of ScaleTracks - his own iOS app featuring backing tracks for scales and arpeggios. Designed to make scales and arpeggios a more enjoyable, musical experience, ScaleTracks features over 1,000 backing tracks in many different genres from Dubstep to Baroque. The app has received highly positive reviews in BBC Music Magazine, The Strad and Music Teacher Magazine, among others.

Jonathan Kingston

BMus Huddersfield, DipMusCh, FRSA
Choral Director, Head of Vocal Studies

Jonathan Kingston was an organ student at Liverpool Cathedral before being appointed Sub Organist at Bradford Cathedral. Assistant Director and Director of Music appointments followed at two leading HMC schools, before an appointment to The King’s School, Ely as Director of Music where he also served Ely Cathedral as Deputy Organist and as a Choral Director. Jonathan is a recording artist for Naxos, Priory and EMI Records and is an ABRSM grade and diploma examiner, trainer, and professional reviewer, touring this country and internationally. He has appeared with many leading orchestras and choirs including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé, London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and English Symphony Orchestra and featured in many live broadcasts for BBC radio and television. He is a trustee for the National Musicians’ Church in London and is a Freeman of the City of London. Jonathan directs the Banbury Choral Society and is Director of Music at the Parish Church in Stony Stratford.

Jonathan’s part-time role at Stowe sees him co-ordinate the direction of the choirs, Choral Society and vocal groups while also overseeing the provision of performing opportunities for vocalists in conjunction with the highly dedicated and supportive singing professionals, who form the singing faculty.

Ben Weston

Head of Popular Music and Music Technology

With over 20 years’ experience in recording and music production, Ben has credits with artists such as Gabrielle Aplin, JP Cooper, Dylan and Myles Sanko.

As a performer, Ben has appeared at events such as the British Formula One GP, the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, and has shared a stage with Damon Albarn (blur/Gorillaz), Rick Wakeman (Yes) and the late Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake). As an avid guitarist, singer and songwriter, Ben also heads up our School record label, bringing valuable experience to Stoics who choose to go on to follow a career in the music industry.

In 2018, Ben helped to propel Old Stoic ‘Dylan’ onto the world stage – she has recently toured the UK with Bastille and worldwide with Ed Sheeran.

Jane Horwood

Music Administrator, Visiting Music Teacher Coordinator

As the Music Department’s Administrator and Visiting Music Teacher Coordinator, Jane has a wealth of organisational experience from a career spent in logistics, followed by 10 years as a freelance piano teacher and pre-school music leader. Jane manages the scheduling of instrumental lessons, arranges concerts, events and academic trips, as well as supporting the Department in many other ways to deliver on its academic and cocurricular provision. Loving nothing more than listening to Stoics perform in lunchtime concerts, Jane can also be found singing in the alto section of The Stowe Group Choral Society.

For enquiries about Music at Stowe or to arrange a visit contact Admissions at