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Peak District Music Centres | About Us



At Peak District Music Centres we believe in inspiring young people with a life-long passion for music-making. With the enjoyment and enthusiasm that comes from being part of an ensemble, and encouraged by a wonderful team of experienced and dedicated directors and players, our young musicians gain in confidence and skill with every rehearsal.


We want all our young people to achieve their full potential and we constantly strive for excellence; our concerts and performances are renowned across the Peak District and beyond. Many of our young musicians continue their music for years to come, some in successful careers in music and the arts.

We want every young person to be able to experience music making, whatever their background, and we are able to help in cases of financial hardship too. In the “PDMC family” young people and parents alike find a warm and encouraging welcome.

Why Music?


Music and music-making have been proven to positively impact the lives of those who take part. For children and young people this can include:

providing a vital and enjoyable platform for self-expression and creative exploration

contributing to a balanced life and mental and social well being

developing confidence, self-discipline, team work and determination

supporting and improving academic performance across the curriculum

extending the horizons of what is possible and achievable

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Chris Burge | Peak District Music Centres


Hope Valley Beginner Wind Band

Chris developed an early passion for jazz, inspiring him to study at Leeds College of Music, specialising in Jazz Performance on the trombone. His career highlights include performing at the Royal Albert Hall, with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, recording soundtracks and playing for touring theatre shows.


Chris teaches all brass instruments, working with whole-class and one to one instrumental tuition from beginner to post Grade 8. 

Jason Curteis | Peak District Music Centres


Buxton Beginner Strings & Intermediate String Orchestra

Jason has been involved in PDMC since a child and went on to study viola at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. After playing professionally in Portugal, Jason has been teaching in the area for over 25 years. His PDMC highlights have been the tours with the PDSO, visiting Granada, Belgium and most recently Ireland.


He has been fortunate to teach pupils from beginners to advanced levels including some who have performed in The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

John Milner | Peak District Music Centres


Peak District Big Band (PDBB)

John loved big bands since an early age – obsessed with Duke Ellington and setting up his first band aged 15, he has been running one ever since.


As a drummer he was heard on BBC Radio’s Pick of the Week; his Ellington piano recital was the Daily Telegraph’s Pick of the Day, and he had a brief diversion playing at Glastonbury with a ska band. John has a PhD about a famous American big band leader (guess who...).


His highlight of the regular PDBB calendar is playing at the Leek Arts Festival.

Ben Simnett | Peak District Music Centres

Ben Simnett

Buxton Beginner Wind Band

Ben is a clarinettist and teacher. Since completing a Masters in performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, Ben has performed with a number of Chamber ensembles and currently with the Marsyas Quintet. 

Ben has worked in a broad range of education settings, from individual lessons to whole class secondary music. He particularly enjoys bringing together aspiring performers and helping them to develop their skills together in ensembles, small or large.

Jane Taylor | Peak District Music Centres


Intermediate Wind Band

Jane is a clarinettist and a woodwind teacher, with a particular enjoyment of chamber music, performing regularly with the Muskoka Wind Quintet. Jane teaches individual and group lessons in schools and delivers whole class instrumental programmes. Jane is also the Clarinet and Saxophone tutor for the Derbyshire City and County Youth Wind Band.

As a long-standing member of PDMC, Jane enjoys inspiring a love of music in young people.

Gavin Usher | Peak District Music Centres


Peak District String Orchestra (PDSO)

Gavin has worked extensively as a music director, including with the award-winning Barnsley Youth Choirs and founding his own musical theatre company based in Sheffield – Cutting Edge. Gavin enjoys freelancing as a violinist and has worked extensively in education, recently being the music lead on Opera North’s acclaimed In Harmony initiative.


He is now PDMC’s Strategic Director of Music and his favourite moment was taking PDSO on tour to Belfast in 2018.

Gareth Widdowson | Peak District Music Centres

danny riley

Peak District Wind Band (PDWB)

We are very excited to welcome Danny, a former PDWB and PDBB player, to our ensemble director team this year (photo coming soon!).

The Charity
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In brief, our Objects are to advance musical education, principally of school age young people in an area bounded by Buxton, Bakewell and Hope Valley, by the provision of:


  • structured music ensembles to enable participation and progression and to develop confidence and enjoyment

  • regular rehearsals, performance opportunities and enrichment activities such as tours and workshops

  • opportunities for teamwork and leadership


Peak District Music Centres has a dedicated group of trustees which oversee the running of the organisation.

David Brindley (Chair), Hannah Watson (Vice-chair)

Simon Marrow, Vicky Giliker, Rachel Verdicchio, Allie Spencer, Melanie Groarke

If you are interested in becoming a trustee, please contact us at

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