Edward Martin

Director of Music – Edward Martin

When asked to produce a “bio” for the Church web site I thought since there’s a plethora of useless information splattered all over the internet, why add to it? I was told it was God’s way of punishing me. Thinking there were so many other ways He could make me miserable, I acquiesced. 

I started out as a child and by age 5 knew I was “different” from the other kids. I was the only post toddler in town forced to take piano lessons. I was introduced to a wonderful old spinster who not only taught my mother, but my grandfather as well. I was the third generation this pious, sweet, genterrl lady was about to teach the art of playing the piano. For the next few years, my life went from the placidity of small town life to a nightmare in hell. Every day, I was remanded to the sweat shop (living room) to pracice for a half hour. Every Friday morning before school, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to my weekly piano lesso and, as I recall, the behavioral modification I was experiencing, spilled over into the school day. I spent a lot of those Fridays dealing with anger management standing in the school hallway or bent over my desk getting whacked with a six foot yard stick. My dear piano teacher, who was accustomed to a daily glass of sherry promptly at 5pm, already altered her rule on Fridays and began pouring as soon as I left for school. I wonder if there was any correlation with our changes in behavior and me being a child “prodigy”

I went through high school spending a great deal of me precious youthful vigor mastering my piano techniques and playing lower base instruments (not at the same time) in the school band. My appreciation for music and how to perform it came from my piano teacher, my mother and my grandfather. I felt the pathos in my soul and wanted to share my love of music with those less fortunate. 

So, with this inherited talent one can’t learn from books broiling inside me, I decided to save the world and become a music teacher. I was accepted to the Crane School of Music wirh a major in piano and a minor in the baritone horn. I envisioned the headlines in the local newspaper touting the town’s favorite son going to the big time! Well, it didn’t take long for that bubble to burst. Welcome, small fish, to the large pond. I was awestruck! The talent oozinf from my so called peers left me feeling so inferior that I ran around campus acting like a deaf mute for the first three semesters of my college career. 

Gradually, I came out of my coma, joined a fraternity, pulled a few pranks on campus, was arrested a couple of times, oh, and yes, graduated with a BS in Music Education. TO this day I’m not quite sure what BS actually means. I went on to graduate school while working at my first teaching job in a small community in central New York. 

Now, the reason I walk with a limp and have a slight tic is because I taught vocal music in public school for several years. Crane never really prepared me for the trauma I was to experience. There was no course in “Survival Techniques for a Music Teacher in Public School” offered at the college level. Shockingly, I found that teaching music took up only 30% of the school day. The remaining 70% was pure baby sitting. 

While in college, I became quite interested in theater, Musical Theater, to be exact. I took courses in Theater and became involved with several performances, on and behind stage. So, when a public school hired me to teach music/ baby sit, they not only got a vocal music instructor/ sitter, but a director of Broadway style musicals to boot. 

For over 40 years, during evenings and on weekends, I would keep myself insane by organizing, directing and/ or acting in school and community musicals, community choruses and dinner theater productions. I also played in a wedding band, tuned piano’s, and sang in the church choir. 

After a fifteen year run with public schools, I made a life changing decision and went to prison. I was hired by the department of corrections to create and maintain a music program in a local facility. I actually spent my work day teaching music to inmates. Six years later, the euphoria of using my music education to some good came to an end when the State of New York decided to abolish all music and handicraft programs. Fortunately, and this is ironic, I had enough of the right college credits AND experience of working in special education to qualify for the position of a teacher in the GED program. I spent the next 13 years as a GED teacher and retired from state service in 2003. 

Now that I am officially retired, my thoughts turned to sandy beaches, palm trees and mai tais. My wife and I would spend our golden years in a motor home travelling around the country visiting our sons, daughters and their children. I was aroused from that dream by the shrill ring of the telephone and was asked if I’d like to be the next Sexton of the Presbyterian Church. Sorry, dear wife but I must put our motor home in neutral, don my cape, mask and broom and clean the Church! Sexton Ted to the rescue! However, three years later, because of osteoarthritis in my knees and hips, I had to hang up my costume and broom and bid adieu to the cleanest Church in town. Now, wife, let’s get out of Dodge!

Then, as luck would have it, an unforeseen event occurred leaving the church without an organist/ choir director. I was asked to “fill in” until a replacement could be found. I’m still waiting for that replacement. 

Once again, the inherent pathos broiling in me took hold and I vowed that if this was really meant to be, so be it. I brought a receptive choir into the 21st century and showered them with contemporary music via different venues. Instead of singing a couple of new anthems per year, they sing twenty. They learn new responses. We spend every minute of rehearsal working on music and necessities like nuance, tonality, blend, phrasing, rhythm and style. I want them to “be all they can be” so I push them, cajole them and even threaten them to the point that they have given me a new moniker... NCD (Nazi Choir Director). But I digress. 

This was supposed to be a “bio” of my career “in a nut shell”. If I were twenty-one the nut shell thing might be possible. Did I mention my nearly fifty year passion with the building trades? You may ask “When did you have time for that?” Why.... after church, silly.