Today, in honour of UNESCO World Teachers’ Day, we celebrate the tremendous impact of one of Canada’s finest saxophone instructors. Here we have a pedagogue who maximized every resource and opportunity at hand to establish professional standards amongst her disciples. Great teachers help their students to love music, but it takes a SPECTACULAR teacher to inspire others to dedicate their lives to art. Marg, Melissa, Kim, Marshall, Robin, Erin and Jan, all former students and/or colleagues, share their experiences with the exceptional Barbara Lorenz.
When Harlan Green retired from teaching at Lakeland College (Lloydminster, AB) he recommended Barb Lorenz as his replacement. He said she was a great teacher and could cover all the wind instruments. Harlan was totally correct. Barb was a tremendous addition. She was faithful, prepared, and diligent. She jumped into all activities whether they were performances, volunteer/fundraising activities, or parties which we all excelled at! As an employer I had no complaints from fellow staff, students, or their parents. When running a busy conservatory this is always a relief!
As a musician Barb was comfortable in classical and jazz music and could always be counted on for an excellent performance herself. As a teacher she was amazing. She supported her students, prepared them carefully for exams, festivals, recitals and auditions, chose music that suited their styles and abilities, rehearsed with their accompanists, attended as many performances as she was allowed to hear, and cheered them through everything. In all of this she was humble, yet her students have excelled.
The City of Lloydminster and area benefited from her investment in students and her legacy carries on through them.
Marg Daly – A. Mus, B. Mus, L. Mus, MA (Musicology with performance) and M. Div (Performing Arts Director, Lakeland College 1993-2006)
I initially started lessons with Barb to catch up to my classmates in band class, as I switched from playing the clarinet to the saxophone. I didn’t realize at that time how much of an impact taking those lessons would have on my life. Studying with Barb led me to have many valuable experiences and truly shaped who I am as a person. She taught me that what you put into something is what you will get out of it and I have carried this message with me in many aspects of my life. I fell in love with expressing myself through music so much that I was driven to pursue a Bachelor of Music Degree in Saxophone Performance. As I continue on with my career as an Occupational Therapist, many of the lessons that Barb taught me have helped me to succeed in this profession. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to study under Barb and am thrilled to be able to honour a most deserving person.
Melissa Latos, Bmus, MscOT. Reg (AB/SK), Occupational Therapist, Saskatchewan Health Authority, Lloydminster, SK
I am so very thankful for the opportunity I had to learn music with Barb. I began lessons at the age of twelve and was fortunate to be able to study with her until I was eighteen. She is the reason I developed such a love for the saxophone and became a music teacher myself. Barb was always pushing me to learn more. She would host other artists for masterclasses and workshops and encourage her students to take lessons with other professionals. She took us on trips to hear others play, and she always encouraged us to perform. She came to every one of my performances that I can remember, which really meant a lot to me. Barb, your dedication, generosity, your love of music, and your fun personality really set the bar high for anyone I would study with later. I enjoyed every moment I had learning from you. Thank you for being so amazing – Wouldn’t be where I am today without you!
Kim Drury teaches saxophone, piano, and flute lessons at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, AB. She is also part of the university transfer program, teaching Music 100. She lives in Lloydminster with her husband and five beautiful children.
Barb Lorenz is a great teacher and I was lucky to be one of her students. As a teacher myself I often think, what would Barb do? In this way I suppose years later she is still teaching me. I first started lessons with Barb Lorenz in 1994 when I was in Grade 9. Her matter of fact but caring demeanour helped immensely during our lessons. I recall I often had a “crackly” reed sound and after a few lessons of trying to fix this she remarked, “I think you have more saliva than most people”. Eventually I got it under control, but she was probably right. I remember trying out saxophones in the music store for hours in Saskatoon. I picked the one I liked, brought it back to Lloyd and Barb invited me over to check it out. I waited while she played it, dreading that I picked the wrong one. Thankfully it passed and I breathed a sigh of relief! I was fortunate to have Barb as a teacher and I know I’m not alone in feeling admiration for receiving her instruction. Thanks Barb, for everything.
Marshall Tindall currently teaches Band and Music at Queen Elizabeth School in Wetaskiwin, AB and Griffiths-Scott School in Millet, AB. He is currently a member of the Battle River Big Band. He resides with his family in Camrose, AB.
How do I describe the impact of Barb’s teaching?
I started saxophone lessons with Barb when I was in grade 8 or 9. I was very shy and had never played anything beyond the basics of my band class. She pulled out Céline mandarine (I still have my copy) and said, “Let’s play this.” I took a quick look at the music and thought it looked way too hard. She sensed my hesitation and said, “I think you can do it. Just try.” I did and she was right. It wasn’t too hard and it was actually quite fun to play the melody, to play a solo. My love for music, and for saxophone, had begun.
She faithfully wrote out all of the scales I was to practice each week in my lesson book and each week I returned without practising them. She showed incredible patience putting up with that week after week! I like that she never sugar-coated things. You always knew exactly what Barb thought and you were always working together to get that saxophone to sound warm, dark and expressive and to get that counting just right.
Around Grade 11, Barb asked me to join the Lakeland College Saxophone Quartet with Erin Rogers, Marshall Tindall, and Kim Allan (Drury). She did the rehearsals at her place once a week and let me borrow her tenor so I could play that part with the group. Being around the other saxophonists and getting all of that extra music time was a dream. She went the extra mile driving our group to gigs out of town and also taking us to see Jan Berry’s recital at the U of A. Not only was the quartet a rich musical learning experience, it was also a source of friendship and saxophone camaraderie. I remain friends with the members of the quartet 23 years later.
Since then I have found my musical home playing in a community band in Calgary called Westwinds Wind Orchestra. When we have done workshops with guest conductors from around Canada and the United States, I have been asked several times where I studied saxophone. I always tell them I didn’t study music in university but that I was lucky enough to grow up in Lloydminster where they had this amazing saxophone teacher named Barb Lorenz…
In March 2019, I decided to take music lessons from Barb again after hearing she was living in the same city as me and still teaching. I signed up at Long and McQuade and waited anxiously to see her. It had been 21 years. We were back in a little room and she looked the same and we were right where we left off. We spent most of the time talking and I got to ask her all the burning questions I’d had for the past 20 years such as, What were you doing when you took my reed and rubbed it with that reed knife thingee, and how do I get my low notes to come out better? It was like old times.
Congratulations on being recognized as an outstanding teacher, Barb. You deserve it!
Robin Creech Cathro is a stay-at-home mom and part-time business administrator for her family cattle ranch. She lives for Tuesday night band rehearsals with the Westwinds Wind Orchestra, the highest calibre concert band in Calgary’s Westwinds Music Society, where she has been the lead alto saxophonist for the past 11 years.
Barb Lorenz is a true professional in every sense of the word. She pushed me in every realm. Tone production, rhythmic precision, musical phrasing, technical proficiency – every aspect of the instrument was important and she had expertise in each. I remember leaving lessons with cassette tapes of famous French saxophonists to study for tone and control. She taught me about equipment. She advocated for a new mouthpiece which entirely changed the game. I got my first reed knife while studying with Barb. She was an extremely dedicated teacher and brought a contagious seriousness to every aspect of music making. While supportive to the core, bad playing or lack of preparation didn’t slide in Barb’s studio. Mistakes represented an opportunity to improve and despite many laughs and fun moments, compliments were earned and expectations high.
She pushed me to perform in the local Kiwanis festival network which was adjudicated competitively and we kept up with annual exams from the Royal Conservatory and Western Board. She also found local performance opportunities for all her students, including the Lloydminster Fringe Festival and the annual Colonial Days Exhibition – invaluable experience for all of us.
Barb was plugged in to the larger saxophone scene. She introduced me to William Street at the University of Alberta and spoke often about the studios of Glen Gillis (University of Saskatchewan), Jeremy Brown (University of Calgary) and Frederick Hemke (Northwestern). I’ll never forget my mom and I, on Barb’s urging, attended a saxophone conference at the U of A when I was 16. Her former student, Jan Berry (now Professor of Saxophone at UCLA) became a mentor for me as I studied with her my first year of undergrad.
I can’t thank Barb enough for the fire she started and the indelible impression she left. Without her guidance I certainly would not have pursued a career in music.
Based in New York City, Erin Rogers is a saxophonist, composer, ensemble director, and teaching artist at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Barb Lorenz was my private saxophone teacher from grade 7 through grade 12 and is the reason I am a saxophonist today. I had no idea how remarkable it was to have a female mentor, because I didn’t really know anything about the larger saxophone world at that time. I now know how incredibly fortunate I was not only to have such an incredible female role model, but also such an exceptional musician to guide me in those critical developmental years.
Barb had the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. It was her sound I most wanted to emulate. The warmth and openness of her tone combined with a beautiful and effortless vibrato; I just wanted to make phrases spin forward and sound like that!
She guided me through performances and competitions and emboldened me to create my own sound, my own voice. She taught me to believe in myself and what I had to say as a musician. Barb helped me pick out my first professional saxophone and gave me the courage to use that instrument to craft a career. What is most amazing, in retrospect, is that I never once thought of myself as a female saxophonist in those early years. I didn’t know how unique that was.
Over the years, Barb has inspired and encouraged so many young saxophonists – those who have gone on to careers in music and those who will forever have a love of music. Barb was my role model, my mentor and is most certainly my forever teacher. I am grateful to have this opportunity to honour someone who truly shaped my life. Thank you, Barb.
Jan Berry Baker lives in Los Angeles, California where she is Associate Professor of Saxophone and Head of the Woodwind Area at UCLA. She is the leader of the Women+’s Mentoring Program and inaugural member of the Committee on the Status of Women in the North American Saxophone Alliance.