Instrument Talk Levelling up with Alex Martin - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Alex Martin - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we saw this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and to encourage Kiwis to take their music to the next level!
Throughout the month, we profiled friends of KBB Music. These include incredible homegrown artists who are on their way to achieving amazing success in their respective musical fields. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments that they recommend to other budding Kiwi musicians.
Who else still remembers their first high school instrument?
Today, we’re chatting with one of the exceptionally talented musicians at St. Peters College in Auckland, Alex Martin.
While studying in Year 11, Alex started performing in the Jerusalem Clarinet Quartet (JCQ) – a huge accomplishment at such a young age! Not only this, JCQ won the KBB Music Award at the 2020 NZCT Chamber Music Contest. Check out the contest’s Facebook page here.
Check out this amazing performance from Alex and the Jerusalem Clarinet Quartet playing Carvin Knowles’s ‘Fragments of the Megillat Purim’.
Alex has been working for 5 years with his incredible clarinet teacher, Rowan Meade. Rowan leads an active orchestral, concerto and chamber music career playing with many of New Zealand’s finest orchestra and chamber musicians.
After joining the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s (APO) summer school, Alex was granted the opportunity to play with the likes of Jonathan Cohen and James Fry - both highly talented players in the APO. Alex also enjoys working with his school conductor, Anton Poljanich. Aton conducts the St. Peters College concert band and orchestra, as well as the Auckland Youth Orchestra (AYO) which he recently joined for an Eb Clarinet part in one of their pieces. Although the clarinet is Alex’s go-to instrument, he also enjoys playing the trombone.
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were the breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
For me, the breakthrough moment was when I was first introduced to music at school.
I was initially given the opportunity to play the clarinet in year 6 at my primary school. At St. Peters College it’s compulsory to learn an instrument in years 7 and 8, so this exposure early on in my schooling gave me a head-start and has kept me on my path learning the clarinet.
Although I’m still so new in this journey, a person who has really fuelled my inspiration to continue is my clarinet teacher, Rowan Meade. I started with him in year 8 (I’m now year 12) and have found having such a talented influence from the on-set has also helped further my musical development.
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
The closest thing to an instrument that I will never part with would be my R13 Buffet clarinet which I have now had for almost 4 years.
I have been super lucky with this instrument as clarinet quality tends to vary, but mine is close to perfect - especially the barrel. I have looked into other barrels of its kind in the past, but none have been better than the one that came with the R13. I am also using a B40 mouthpiece with a Vandoren optimum ligature which I have had for 4 years. It’s truly excellent and I doubt I’ll ever need to replace it.
What instruments would you recommend to other keen clarinet players?
Beginner – Bb clarinet
I would recommend a B-flat clarinet when first staring out. Alternatively, you can rent out a clarinet such as a Jupiter clarinet, which is made of plastic.
Intermediate – E12F Buffet Clarinet
If you decide you still want to continue after the rental or the clarinet you have is holding you back, I recommend looking closer at wooden clarinets such as an E12F. If you’re certain you want to continue with the instrument, this is likely to be your first big step. However, if you’re still unsure - try an intermediate-level plastic clarinet such as the Yamaha YCL-255.
Professional - R13 Buffet Clarinet
When getting into a more of a professional level, I would recommend the R13 Buffet Clarinet which will last you for most of your time playing. If you wish to go full professional, another recommendation would be a Buffet Tosca clarinet. Check out the range available at KBB Music here.