Tina Horwood during choir rehearsal at Oak Bay High. The school’s long time choir director was awarded the B.C. Outstanding Music Educator award this month. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay High choir director named B.C.’s most outstanding music educator

Choir director joined by Oak Bay High students at annual conference

When Tina Horwood received the B.C. Music Educators Association’s most Outstanding Educator award in Richmond last month, she wasn’t the only one there from Oak Bay High.

Shortly after Horwood was recognized at the BCMEA awards presentation in the River Rock’s big ballroom, a crew of Oak Bay High students were part of the provincial Honour Ensemble performance at the Fraserview Mennonite Church.

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Oak Bay sent a whole team of students who performed in the various choirs. Two were her own twin sons, John and Chris, in the Honour Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Two more were a pair of Grade 11 students who are currently in five of Horwood’s choirs; Brownyn Bergmann, who was one of eight Oak Bay students in the vocal jazz choir, and Esme Johnson, who performed in the 100-piece concert choir.

“It was three days of workshops that finish with the concerts, it was intense,” said Bergmann.

Eight Oak Bay students that were in the Honour Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

(Tina Horwood Photo)

It’s part of a long tie in that Oak Bay High has with the BCMEA.

Esteemed retired music teacher Dave Dunnet was given the BCMEA Honourary Lifetime award way back in 1991.

This year’s Honourary Lifetime Award went to children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond.

With Horwood earning the Outstanding Educator award, it closes a circle, as Dunnet was actually Horwood’s teacher when she was a student.

“He’s a special guy,” she said. “[Winning the award] acknowledges the picture that comes together to make an outstanding educator.

“It’s not just me. It’s my family… it’s the ‘Dave Dunnets’ who come to my concerts still, who sit in the back row, to wave and offer positive feedback, and [who send] encouraging emails.”

For years, Horwood has opened her home to her choral students. But not just on any night.

“It’s for the solo you need to perform as part of the curriculum,” Johnson said. “We all eat dinner, we get to know each other a bit more, and it makes it less stressful.”

Anyone who has met Horwood knows she “talks fast,” Johnson said.

“A million things going on in her head. She makes you feel comfortable and she finds a place for you.”

For years Horwood’s mom has also allowed Oak Bay students to invade her Shawnigan Lake home for music retreats.

“It’s my husband giving up time and energy to allow me to go on trips, and retreats, and my own four kids that I’ve had the privilege of teaching at Oak Bay,” Horwood said.

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After Horwood earned her award at the BCMEA event last month, Diamond, the keynote speaker, earned hers next.

Then Diamond and her husband sat behind the Horwoods, and immediately connected.

Horwood is also known for her work leading the Island Ukuleles program which she’s been part of since she first learned the ukulele 35 years ago.

“It’s nice to see her recognized,” Bergmann said. “I know how much she’s working, and I’m only with her half the time.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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