HEARTS, MINDS & SOULS, B.C. Music Educators Series, Volume I

Poppy H.S., Langley


Twenty-five B.C. Public School Music Educators who were involved in music education during the 1960s through the early 1990s (The Golden Age of Music Education in B.C. Public Schools). Subsequent volumes will include music educators in the millennium.

BACKGROUND: 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 the first time that instrumental music became accredited in the public schools of B.C.. 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.


Published by: Warfleet Press
Release Date: 2nd ed., June, 2020
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-9868793-6-4

To order this book, please leave a message in the reply box below

22 responses to “HEARTS, MINDS & SOULS, B.C. Music Educators Series, Volume I”

  1. Stephanie McLaren Avatar
    Stephanie McLaren

    Can’t wait to get a copy, Chris 😉

  2. 2 copies please

  3. Am very pleased to learn of you to continued contributions to the recording of our histo our histories. Your output is prodigious. Keep up the good work. Ziba

    1. Thanks Ziba

      This should be a 4 or 5 VOLUME set. Time will tell!


  4. Lots of stories — I definitely want a copy in either flavour!

    1. Okay! Not sure of your name but I will get you one for sure.


  5. 1 copy please

    Thanks for doing this!

    1. Thanks Shawna

      Nice to see someone from Poppy here! It is still early.

      Chris Best

  6. 1 copy please, either soft or hard cover.

  7. I will take one.

    1. Hi Mary

      You get a copy for yourself because you are in it. I trust this is for someone else?


    2. Thanks Mary

      Chris Best

  8. Look forward to it. You already know I want one for me and three others.

    1. Hi Dave

      Yes, I do! Wanted to send the email out to everyone though even those who already got back to me.


  9. What a fabulous project – congrats on an amazing capture of such important history – I would like a copy please, Thanks very much

    1. Hi Lynn Thanks! Send me an email to chrisbestbyjove@yahoo.ca and let me know your address and I will get back to you by email. Tks Chris Best

  10. dubravko pajalic Avatar
    dubravko pajalic

    thank you so much for providing an insight in the work of so many important educators. My son was EH student and I can not thank enough to C. Robinson and T. Koven for providing great musical education to our son. Books of this kind are very rare…. we take teachers for granted and have no idea about their work, their contribution to music life and wellbeing of our kids, thanks to their knowledge, patience and love for music!

    1. Thanks Dubravko Definitely the unsung heroes! Chris Best

  11. I was just strumming my guitar, thinking about my own musical journey over the past years. With many cherished memories along the way. I was taught violin by Mr. James Colpitts (absolutely phenomenal teacher in every aspect) of Annie B. Jamieson before going on to EH and moving over to guitar and jazz band, led by Mr. Tom Koven. I was in grade 11 when he retired. Mr. Koven was one of my most influential teachers of all time. Please let me know where I can find a copy.

    Thanks for your work on this Chris.

    1. Hi David Did I ever get back to you regarding the book Hearts, Minds & Souls? I just saw your query dated March. I’ve been busy! Let me know. Thanks Chris Best

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