Paul Combs has had a long career in music education, in the studio, the classroom, and as a lecturer. Up until the summer of 2015 he taught privately at Paul’s Music Studio, and was on the faculty of the Lowell Jazz Day Camp. Currently he supports music education and arts education in general, and was, until very recently, on the Governance and Professional Development Boards of San Diego County’s Arts Education Resource Organization (AERO). He continues to offer a range of lectures and workshops.
Starting with work as a teacher’s assistant in the first year of Head Start in 1965, Combs has been involved in education for most of his adult life. In the 1960s, while studying at the Philadelphia Music Academy, he worked with urban summer education programs. After graduation he started to teach instruments privately, which he continued to do, with occasional interruptions, throughout the 1970s and 80s, and without interruption through the 1990s to 2015.
In 1987, Paul began teaching instrumental and general music in private and parochial schools. By 1989 he was certified as a music teacher by the Massachusetts Department of Education and he continued to teach instrumental and general music first in Danvers and then in Revere, Massachusetts. During the 1990s he became active in the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA), and was one of the founders of the Society for General Music in Massachusetts, as well as its second presiding chairperson.
By the end of the 1990s Combs’ educational activities extended to public lectures and coaching ensembles. He became active in the Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education (MAJE), the state unit of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). After the collapse of IAJE, MAJE, which had its own organizational charter, has continued to function. He is a charter member of the Jazz Education Network (JEN).
As an author, Paul Combs has written about musical topics for various magazines, some of which can be found on this site. His book Dameronia – The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron, – one of the key figures in the development of modern jazz – was released by the University of Michigan Press in December, 2012. The research for this book is the foundation for the programs described in this site. His recently released CD of lesser-known and previously unrecorded works by Tadd Dameron, Unknown Dameron, is available from Summit Records.
A more detailed biography of Paul Combs, along with an extended interview with Prof. Rich Falco of Worcester Polytechnical Institute is viewable at the NE Jazz History Database.