Masterclass: Neil Clark

Victoria Hall, Sheffield.
Friday 14th October, 2022.
7pm – 9pm

Terry Walters

Jim Oakes

Claire Lynch

Martyn Oakes

About Neil Clark

Neil has a proven track record in both performing and teaching. He has been playing since age 4, and joined the Scots Guards age 16, playing with the Guards Depot Piping School in Grades 3 and 2, then the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in Grades 2 and 1. He competed as a solo player until age 18, being successful in local competitions.

In 1986, Neil joined Strathclyde Police, playing with the 12 times World Champions Strathclyde Police Pipe Band in 1994 – 2000, then 2004 – 2008. Between stints with ‘The Polis’, he played in several other bands, and also in Folk Bands. In 2011, he played with Shotts and Dykehead, and returned to solo competition, until retiring from the solos in 2019 as a professional graded player, in the Competing Piper’s Association B Grade.

Neil began teaching in 2008, when he taught local Air Cadets, and went on to establish the Scotland & Northern Ireland Air Training Corps Pipes and Drums. He established bands for Glasgow and Lanarkshire Army Cadets, Drumnadrochit Piping Society and helped to establish Tulliallan Pipes and Drums. 

Since leaving the police in 2012, Neil has taught full time, in person and over Skype, and has achieved the highest Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board certificates. He is a PDQB qualified teacher, and also an examination assessor. In 2015, Neil spent six months instructing the Royal Oman Police pipe band. Neil has been called on to instruct at the College of Piping, Glasgow and has solo prize-winning pupils all over the world. He instructs from beginner to prize-winner and is flexible in his approach to instruction, in order to tailor learning to the individual. 

Neil’s YouTube channel is in place to support learning for pupils and the public, and is used daily by thousands, worldwide.

There is no doubt that we are really lucky this evening to have Neil with us in Sheffield, for what is hopefully the first of many occasions. Neil’s visit, alongside Stewart Gardiner (side drummer), is part of a weekend of training and development with the City of Sheffield Pipe Band. On behalf of the band, we extend our sincere thanks to the both of them for coming to Sheffield.

About the Performers

Terry Walters was introduced to the bagpipes by the father of a school friend. He had a ‘radiogram’ on which he played a record of the 1966 Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Terry was hooked! At 26 yrs of age Terry joined Northamptonshire Police and served for 30yrs. In 1987, he was a learner piper and founder member of Northampton Pipe Band until 2004 when he retired from the force and moved to France, where he lived for 9yrs and his playing lapsed. Returning to the UK Terry joined the City of Sheffield Pipe Band and commenced playing once again. Terry has most recently been appointed chairman of the CoSPB.

Jim Oakes took up the pipes approximately 15 years ago, at the suggestion of his son Martyn – that they should learn a musical instrument together – a ‘dad and lad’ experience. Martyn chose the bagpipes and the journey began. Jim served as a Firefighter with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for 30 years. During that time, he was looking for a band to join, as he was based at the Training Centre in Sheffield. Unknown to him, the City of Sheffield Pipe Band rehearsed at the centre every Thursday evening. A colleague mentioned to him the Pipe Band was at the centre and he made contact with their Pipe Major. After joining the band, his piping journey has continued ever since. Jim eventually became the chairman of the band, a position he held for ten years and guided the band on many overseas trips and through periods of change. He has just stepped down from the role but has recently become the Pipe Corporal.

Claire began learning music as a young girl, beginning with the recorder and piano. But the violin soon became her ‘main’ instrument and this continued throughout her teenage years. She played with the Sheffield Youth Orchestra, which included a memorable tour of the Channel Islands, until leaving Sheffield for University. During her childhood regular camping trips to Scotland with her family, and a memorable outing to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, helped to develop her love for the bagpipes. She briefly began learning with the City of Sheffield Pipe Band for a year or so in her early teenage years, only returning to it, and the band, many years later in her early 30’s. This time was longer lasting – around a decade – and included two seasons & playing for a couple of competition bands in Manchester. During this time, 5 of her 6 children became drummers, and the 2 girls, highland dancers. Next came a prolonged period of study and a new career, so the bagpipes were put down again whilst she focused on this. During this time she started singing for the Sheffield Oratorio Chorus, which continues to the present day. However, the pull of the pipes was never far away, and she returned to playing and to the CoSPB in the spring of 2022. Hopefully, to never look back again. Claire is the current Pipe Sergeant of the City of Sheffield Pipe Band.

Martyn Oakes started to learn the Pipes when he was 18 years old with his Dad, Jim, as a father-son experience.

Not too long after, Martyn went to serve in the British Army as a Piper with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards for 10 years.

He enjoyed being a Soldier and having the extra opportunities that came as a Piper within the Regiment.

His experience whilst serving included the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Trooping the Colour and State Banquets for her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Many overseas engagements, but most notably, Martyn was part of the only foreign band to ever play inside The Pentagon, Washington D.C. In 2012, he also served during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

He currently plays with Dunfermline and District (RBL Scot) Pipe Band where his Piping journey continues.

Martyn & Jim Oakes

There will be two CD’s on sale in the Foyer before and after tonight’s event and they are £10.00 each. They are recorded by the Glenbervie Duo (Neil and Kathryn) and a solo disc by Neil.

More information on the CD’s including track listings can be found here.

Nae Borders – Glenbervie Duo & Falkirk Piping
Pipes in Drum – Neil Clark