Margaret Behenna and Curt Jantzen are hanging up their batons!
After 50 years each of teaching young students of all ages the conductors have led their last performance for the Band-Ex program.
“It’s time to pack in the elementary-band gig. We would love to have stayed one more year, to finish it off in style. It’s COVID-19 that has created the decision - we were done in by COVID.”
At first the schools were closed in March of 2020, then when they finally opened there were no outside instructors or groups allowed, says Jantzen.
As other activities began to resume, the two teachers discussed returning in 2022, but realized they would have to teach band wearing a mask.
“Wearing a mask would be extremely awkward as one would have to remove it frequently to demonstrate clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, or flute,” added Behenna. “The closeness required to teach a student about correct placement of mouthpiece on lips makes such activity very awkward during COVID times, especially while wearing a mask.”
The Band-Ex program was held at Hawthorne Elementary, with students streaming by carpool to the after-school program from all schools in Ladner and further afield.
Band-Ex regularly enrolled 50 beginners plus 50 second-year players. The twice-year concerts were memorable and exciting, with 100 young musicians, plus an invited band from Delta Secondary, playing their young hearts out. Parents often heaped praise on the two teachers for teaching the joy of music, while instilling discipline and work ethics.
Behenna and Jantzen would like to express a huge thank-you to students, parents, and families who supported them so enthusiastically over the many years.
“It has been a joyful experience,” he said. “Our goal was to instill an appreciation of instrumental music in our students, but in return we received from them a welcome vigour in our post-retirement years.”
Their final elementary school concert took place in February of 2020.
Behenna was the much-loved band teacher at DSS for many years and because of that the two teachers taught many children of her former students. Jantzen is also well-known in the community, having lived in Ladner over the years while a band teacher, then Fine Arts Coordinator, for the School District of Surrey.
Both conductors continue with the Delta Music Makers Concert Band, which is their adult group based at DSS on Tuesday evenings.
They will lead the Delta Music Makers group of 44 to perform in England and France this August. Exciting concerts in the UK will take place in the Chester, Cornwall, and London areas, followed by crossing the channel to perform at some of Canada’s First and Second World War Memorials, including Juno Beach.