Trumpeter Pat Dunn (top) is in music teacher (and alto sax player) Brenda Khoo’s first class of 18 students taking adult beginner concert band lessons. The weekly class

Trumpeter Pat Dunn (top) is in music teacher (and alto sax player) Brenda Khoo’s first class of 18 students taking adult beginner concert band lessons. The weekly class

It’s never too late to blow your own horn

Adult beginners learning woodwind, brass and percussion in new Delta Continuing Education course.

Ever wish you could go back in time to when you were a kid and blow your own horn? Maybe find your rhythm? Want to pull some strings?

Brenda Khoo can help.

She’s the instructor of a new Adult Beginner Concert Band course offered by Delta Continuing Education.

It’s not a class for pros, rather for adults who have little or no experience in playing woodwind, brass or percussion instruments but wish to learn or re-learn – even if they can’t read music.

Khoo, who was a high school English and music teacher in Delta from 1994 to 2005, plays a variety of instruments in the Delta Music Makers concert band.

She says the reason she started the program is because among the 20 or more Lower Mainland adult bands, there were none for people who had no playing experience.

She found a high level of enthusiasm in the first 18 adults who showed up in September to sample and choose their instruments – the first visit showed them the difference between a piccolo and flute, a clarinet and an oboe, and the different toms of a drum set.

Tsawwassen’s Pat Dunn brought a trumpet he’d recently purchased.

“As a kid, like a lot of people, I took piano lessons,” says the semi-retired 60-year-old.

He played a bit of percussion (snares, cymbals) in a junior band decades ago, but decided recently, with more time on his hands, learn how to properly play his new instrument.

He found the course in a Delta Continuing Education pamphlet and joined up, knowing only a little more than which end of the trumpet to blow into and only the basics of how read music.

“I don’t want you to get the idea you have to read music to do this,” he says, adding that he was still more advanced – and older – than many of the other students.

“You just have to start making noise with any instrument.”

His teacher, he says, “is fantastic. She’s very nurturing. The class is a wonderful environment for learning this stuff.”

The adult students are indeed keen.

The proof happens each Wednesday, says Dunn.

“At the end of class, nobody leaves.”

“There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids, but if you teach little kids, they’re not there by choice,” explains Khoo. “I find that adults are very much like seniors in high schools where they’re choosing the band elective and they’re choosing to give up another course.

Dunn says it’s amazing to hear people who by themselves seem to make a racket of screeching noises work as a team to create real music.

“There are times when all these things come together – with people with not much skill. All of a sudden we’ll play 10 bars – and ‘what the heck was that? Wow, that was us!’ ”

There are two classes: Beginners and returning students. Some of the returning students will perform publicly in the spring throughout Delta schools.


Adult Beginner Concert Band classes take place Wednesday evenings in the music room of Delta Secondary School, 4615 51 St. in Ladner. Register by phone (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 604-940-5550. For more information, visit their website.