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A Catch Up With Tileyard Education’s Principal Martyn Ware

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“I never had the intention of getting into education, but I’m so glad I did.” 

Martyn Ware has now been the Principal of Tileyard Education for over three years. Much like Ware’s sound company Illustrious, his approach to education is very immersive. “I believe the best and only way to learn is through pragmatism.” As principal, Martyn is constantly attempting to move forward with these methods and fight for the younger generation’s right to learn in a new, practical and beneficial way. “I don’t want people to walk out of lessons with the daunting idea of ‘homework’ but instead feel inspired to create something on their own.”

Growing up in 1970s Sheffield, Martyn’s options seemed limited. Being in the midst of the steelworks it seemed inevitable to end up in a manual job. Not for Martyn. He joined a local youth club called the Meat Whistle, that encouraged Sheffield’s youth to create and embrace art. There, Martyn met the future members of the Human League and Heaven 17, as well as taking his first steps in creating music, leading him down the competitive path of the music industry.

It seemed clear that the Meat Whistle was greatly sentimental to Martyn and in many ways, I believe he sees a similar community here at Tileyard, driving him to make it a place that inspires the students as much as the Meat Whistle did for him. 

His life has been full of industry up’s and downs, but Martyn has stayed true to where he began, and never lost sight of the humble and focussed Sheffield boy that had a dream to be in a band. What became very apparent when speaking to Martyn is his very forward-thinking approach to sound. Starting with his early Human League synth-style expression and Heaven 17’s political dance beats to starting his company, Illustrious, he has always looked into the future rather than staying transfixed on the past or present.

Martyn has founded two successful bands and produced for musical greats such as Tina Turner. He made it to Top of the Pop’s and got to number two on the charts with Heaven 17. With every downfall came an even greater musical venture. When tensions rose within the members of the Human League, Ware started Heaven 17 the same week. When music strayed from the popular sound of bands like Heaven 17, he started Illustrious. So, what has kept Martyn so driven? “Hope drives me. Hope drives everything.” 

As a long-standing member of the music community, he has seen the industry change and develop. “Popular music is ever changing and trying to keep up with the industry can be a bit of a challenge.” Martyn admitted. However, as principal, he is eager to instil a confidence within his students’ ability “Speak the music. If you can say the words and it still remains interesting to listen to, you have a hit.”. 

Other than his continuous fight for creative rights, what’s next for Martyn Ware? He is currently using his quarantine downtime to work on his autobiography. “It’s actually a lot harder than I had anticipated and I might even have to do it in two parts, but I want to make sure I give a detailed and truthful account of my life.” He is also part of a collaboration of a 3D immersive experience in Venice. This is a very exciting project and will essentially be “an immersive theatre with a multi-strand narrative.” Ware also admitted that a goal of his has always been to write a full-scale film soundtrack, that he hopes to achieve in the near future.

With Tileyard North on its way, right next to Martyn’s hometown and plans to develop in the United States, times have never been more exciting for Tileyard Education. Martyn has a series of exciting plans for the future of sound, but he remains focussed on making Tileyard the best it can be, using education as a catalyst for musical development. “I’m excited about where Tileyard Education is going, and I’m delighted to be part of it.” 

Credit: Ellie Macieira Fielding

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