Mad Hatters. In 1985 Martin started a
wind band at a Cambridge primary school and discovered how quickly
younger players take to jazz. He began teaching jazz
improvisation to the band, and formed the Mad Hatters. In 1987 he began to teach
jazz at Parkside
Community College, coaching the Mad Hatters, later adding a
small group called Spaghetti Junction and finally Lift Off, a mixed band
containing pupils from Parkside and Hills Road Sixth Form College.
He encouraged students to form their own bands and groups.
The enthusiasm was
substantial, with older players joining up with Bert Schilperoort,
who taught at Long Road Sixth Form College, to continue their jazz
education to university and beyond. All the bands won awards
annually in the Daily Telegraph Young Jazz competition, and students
subsequently won individual awards and scholarships.
Several turned professional, including Frank Harrison, Oli
Hayhurst and Josh Kemp. The Mad Hatters
still continue to and perform locally, on their own and with Chesterton
jazz courses. In 1996 Martin became a tutor at the
long established weekend jazz courses at Grafham Water, and in 2003 took
over as Course Director. The teaching partnership with Bert
Schilperoort (drums and sax) continues, both at Parkside and Grafham, and at Grafham
they have been joined as tutors by Jeremy Kahn (guitar), with additional
tuition from Josh Kemp (sax and keyboard) and Ruth Applin (vocalist).
The centre runs three
courses annually: a 3/4 day course on the last weekend in January , and
3-day courses in June/July, and November. The Grafham
courses cater for all standards from beginner to advanced, and are said
to be among the most friendly and relaxed. There are usually
3 groups, with alternative sessions available for vocalists. The emphasis is on learning
through playing, and the evening jam sessions go on into the early
hours, and produce some effective performances. New bands
have been formed at Grafham Water courses. Courses for 2007
run from 29 June to 1 July and 2-4 November.
Martin also teaches at some
of the jazz courses run by the county for schools, and the Cambridge
Jazz Musicians Co-operative.
The future of Jazz
Education. Jazz teaching is on the increase in schools
with the new jazz curriculum and enthusiastic students are looking for
more teaching and performance opportunities. For Martin the
earlier students start to learn, the less inhibited they are about
improvisation, a key element in the 18th century which has almost
disappeared from classical music but is an essential part of jazz.
Playing jazz pays specific attention to developing skills which apply to
all music: listening to and co-operating with other players, developing
a sense of rhythm, and listening to yourself, learning to play a melody
well. These opportunities should be available to pupils in
all schools, not just those who happen to have a teacher who understands
Martin has been teaching
the clarinet and saxophone to private pupils in Cambridge since 1983, as
well as helping with Holiday Orchestra and county youth wind bands
and conducting the Saturday music at Comberton Village College.
Martin believes that
musical opportunities and enjoyment should be made possible not just for
specially gifted players, and not just while in education, but as a
life-long activity. As well as teaching younger players, Martin
encourages adults to return to music, or learn a new instrument, and has
a number of adult pupils.
An executive committee
member of NAYO, he is committed to the principle that music
is a valuable and essential part of a well-balanced curriculum.