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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 Community College.     

Grafham Water 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 jazz. 


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.


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This site was last updated 03/29/07