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This first volume looks at 25 music educators in the Greater Vancouver area who were involved in music education during the 1960s through the early 1990s, The Golden Age of Music Education in B.C. Public Schools. Their names are mentioned below. Subsequent volumes will include music educators from around the province and music educators in the millennium.
BACKGOUND: In the sixties the performing arts were thriving, spurred on by the culture of the day. Live music could be heard everywhere: television, radio, films, parks and in the neighbourhoods (garage bands). Kids wanted to emulate what they were hearing and the schools obliged.
This period was special because it marked for the first time that instrumental music became accredited in the public schools. A small group of music educators worked hard to get instrumental music into the curriculum. A music specialist was hired in each district. Not all had degrees. It was their job to head-hunt others that could develop strong music programs (including instrumental) in the district’s schools. These specialists became District Music Supervisors.
Fred Turner, the Director of the New Westminster Boys & Girls Band, became the first District Music Supervisor for Vancouver to actively hire instrumental music teachers. He hired Ron Pajala to develop an instrumental music program at John Oliver Secondary School. Fred’s son Kerry Turner began developing instrumental music programs in the Burnaby School District. Kerry later became an Arts Supervisor for the Abbotsford S.D. Later, Bob Rankin became the District Music Supervisor for North Vancouver and Curt Jantzen for Surrey. Dennis Tupman took over from Fred Turner and in 1975 hired Pete Stigings for Magee Secondary.
Dave Henderson was head-hunted by the principal of Sutherland Secondary in North Vancouver. Ernie Colledge was hired to develop the music program at Eric Hamber Secondary School in 1962.
The U.B.C. Music Department graduated its first instrumental music student in 1964. Margaret Neill (Behenna) graduated in 1966 and went on to develop an amazing program in Delta. The next wave of students who started U.B.C. Music in the mid sixties could see the potential ahead. They graduated in the early seventies and included Gerry King, Bob Rebagliati, Rob Karr, Mary Howland (Ellenton) and Marilynn Turner. All would go on to develop or contribute to the development of amazing music programs all over Metro Vancouver. Others who followed a few years later were: Bob LaBonte, Chris Robinson, Tom Koven, Mark Kowalenko, Sandy Koven, Keith Woodward and Dave Fullerton (Keith Mann Award winner).
This new breed of exceptionally dedicated, well educated, enthusiastic and talented music educators didn’t all come from U.B.C. David Proznick was recruited from Saskatchewan. He developed an amazing program at Semiahmoo Secondary in White Rock and became a recipient of the Keith Mann Award, one of only three in B.C. Bob Schaefer came from Oregon and developed a program at New Westminster Secondary. His contributions included founding the New Westminster or Hyak Jazz Festival. Peter van Ooyen came from Michigan.
The Golden Age of Music Education lasted until 1992 when funding and the position of District Music Supervisor were cut by the B.C. government.
Above are only a representative few of the many fine and dedicated music educators who have taught in the school districts of British Columbia over the decades. They have tried to remember others in our interviews and mention them by name when the opportunity arose. Unfortunately we could never remember everyone.
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