Marlon first became interested in playing pan at age twelve; he was a frequent visitor to the music department at Stanley Technical High School for Boys in South Norwood, London often at the expense of other lessons such as Maths or English. He also played the drums and bass guitar, but soon started to investigate the various types of pan instruments on offer, and spent the following two years being taught at Stanley Technical by Paul Dowie, but like all good things poor old Stanley Tech came to an end when the school was taken over by the Harris Federation of Academies, and while the school was unable to provide consistent lessons Marlon joined the Comets where he was taught by Jason Butcher and latterly by David Wellcomme.
He made some good friends among his peers during his time with the band and is still in touch with many of them. Although Marlon spent these formative years developing his skills as a double seconds player he is extremely competent on all the pan instruments and often leads his own musicians on tenor when playing as a smaller ensemble, he actively encourages his musicians to try their hand at all the various pans in the orchestra and has had some surprising results, finding several multi talented players among them.
Marlon had the opportunity to start a band at Harris as part of their enterprise scheme and soon had a reasonable sized band that could commit to performing outside the school at community events which they began to do after only four rehearsal sessions! However, as time went on Marlon felt that the band could go much further with the right guidance and support and the day came when he was alerted to an advert for a reasonable amount of pans for sale, So armed with a loan from his older brother he took the plunge and on the 1stJuly 2009, Endurance Steel Orchestra, was born. He has found inspiration from the many people who have supported him and given him fantastic opportunities, over the last year, such as being invited along with other members of Endurance to play with Mangrove for the last two national UK Panoramas, and in 2010 being given the honour of being invited to play with Adlib for New York Panorama, he was blown away by the generosity and hospitality of Andre White’s family, and came back to England with a new sense of purpose and the inspiration to develop a variety of arranging techniques in order to take Endurance to the next stage of the orchestra’s development. Marlon has also played with Real Steel Orchestra in the 2014 UK National Panorama competition when they completed their hat trick of victories.
As a young man trying to gain experience as a pan tutor, Marlon had found obstacles from some professionals working in the field of education, but he strived to be accepted and taken seriously as a confident and thorough teacher, happily he is currently teaching the art of playing the steel pan at Kingsdale Foundation School in Dulwich where he was given the chance to prove himself by their forward thinking head of music, Marlon also works at Lewisham College (where he is studying music performance) where he assists with the provision for teaching music composition and performance to the students who have learning difficulties. He is very grateful for the opportunities given to him by the people who are willing to let him nurture and attain his goals, and has vowed his commitment to support young people in fulfilling their dreams.
He would like to see the steel pan artform grow much more in the UK and believes that those involved in the pan world should push for more to be done to try and bring pan to the fore across the various educational establishments and would love to see the day when all young people could utilize the art of pan playing in national exams as this provision is very limited at the moment, only being offered at very few secondary schools.
The future is looking very positive for Marlon and Endurance Steel Orchestra. He hopes to continue his quest of bringing pan music to as many people as possible in the future and tutoring lots more young people to play this beautiful instrument. Marlon celebrated his nineteenth birthday in 2010 and accepts that he still has a lot to learn, but has achieved quite a lot in a very short space of time, with his musical hunger crying out for more. There are lots more to come from this hard working and courageous young man.
Marlon has ensured that Endurance is at the forefront of the UK steelband community and that they perform regularly at gigs, corporate events, weddings, birthdays parties and is looking forward to taking them to national steelband festivals in future.
Marlon has played in the New York and London National Steelband Panorama competitions for 2011 and is hoping to visit Trinidad to compete in the Mecca’s National Panorama competition. Over the years Pan Podium continues to support young, enterprising and talented pan musicians like Marlon Hibbert to keep their music evolving and the ensure that the artform continues to develop in the digital era.