The Committee

Darent Valley Youth Music is a wholly independent organisation run voluntarily by an Executive Committee comprising the conductor, parents and respected members of the local community who give of their time and resources freely for the benefit of the young people who attend DVYM. Our conductor holds a DBS (formerly CRB) certificate from Kent County Council.

Our conductor:

James (2)        James Drake

A keen woodwind player and local music teacher, James has achieved Grade 8 in the Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone and Music Theory and also has a teaching diploma in the Clarinet (dipABRSM with distinction). James walked past the window of a music shop in early 2009 and (characteristically) couldn’t resist buying a shiny, purple ukulele. What he didn’t realise was that this one spontaneous action would shape the course of his destiny. Now known locally as the Ukulele Man, James has led several Ukulele Orchestras in the past, in both Tonbridge and Nottingham, and gets the distinct feeling that he won’t be stopping any time soon. James is also a website manager and so should probably have written this bit in the 1st person.

The Committee are:

Sandra Drake– Chairperson

Andy Casali – Treasurer

Vanessa Rogers– Secretary

Zoë Drake, Sara Morris- Website managers

Louise Brown- Friends of DVYM administrator

In addition to parental sponsorship, we are also supported by our local MP, councillors and dignitaries who take an active role in the activities of DVYM and regularly attend our concerts and performances.

We are thankful for financial assistance from Sevenoaks and District Arts Council and sponsorship from the Trident Trust. All monies raised or received are used for the benefit of DVYM and its young players, who gain educationally, musically and socially from their participation in its activities.

In recognition of her voluntary work with DVYM, Sandra was presented with a Certificate of Achievement in February 2019. The presentation was hosted by, among others, Len Goodman and Peter Sissons. Congratulations Sandra!

Our Former Conductors:

Duncan Dwinell          Duncan Dwinell

Retiring at Easter 2020, founding member Duncan conducted Concert Band, Enterprise and Minims for 15 years. He has now been awarded Honorary Patron status and we wish him well in his retirement.

As well as having been the Head of Music at Oakwood Park Grammar School for eight years Duncan also has also earned the following: AB Harvard (Batchelor of Arts); Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music (Horn); Certificate of Advanced Musical Studies (King’s College London); Ted Wragg Teaching Award for Lifetime Achievement (Commendation) South East Region.

Duncan’s unique blend of energy and wit has driven our bands forward for longer than some of us can remember. He is most famous for his legendary food metaphors, which usually crop up when he’s describing articulation- you never forget being told how to play like sausages!

Jezz Laing

Leaving in summer 2020, to work on other projects, Jezz conducted Phoenix Jazz and Junior Jazz.

Aside from his rather impressive MA Hons (Cantab); PGCE (London Institute of Education); and MMus Distinction (Westminster), Jezz has also been Head of Music Tech at Cooper’s College and currently teaches both in the classroom and peripatetically in a number of schools in the local area.

Jezz’s laid back approach encouraged many of our players to play improvised solos in both our jazz bands and whether he is leading on the sax or from behind a keyboard he’s always inspiring us with riffs so hot you might burn yourself. He also (somewhat unsurprisingly) has very good taste in music, which shows itself in his excellent song choices.