Ron Rutley, director of music at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale, was honoured at a farewell concert at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday (June 22), as he prepares to retire from teaching. (Photo: Ryan McLeod)

Final notes for retiring music teacher at Surrey concert

After 35 years of teaching, Ron Rutley is leaving job as music director at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary

By Ryan-Alexander McLeod, contributor

Three decades is a long time. It’s long enough to teach a few generations of the same family, it’s long enough to know that you’ve probably forgotten just as much as you’ve learned.

It’s long enough to build 35 years of musical family, said Ron Rutley, the director of music at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, before he was honoured with a retirement concert at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre last Friday evening (June 22).

“Between Richmond, Surrey and Fraser Valley Christian, I’ve been lucky to bring all these kids along, thousands of them,” he said.

Whether it’s running into current and former students at the grocery store or Starbucks, Rutley loves the connection he gets to make with the students especially since music is an elective and no one has to be there, they want to be part of the music.

“They start out in grade eight and you watch their progression up to grade 12, these kids and their parents are just amazed at their transformation and how great they become.”

We do tours with the kids, you get to see this different side of them and they get to see a different side of me. It’s really the biggest family you could imagine actually,” Rutley said.

And while he’s seen his share of students come and go the magnitude of a career spanning three decades isn’t lost on him.

“Thirty-five years goes by in a blink, it’s scary actually,” Rutley laughed.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

Having some time to reflect on not only his career but his life’s work, in the hours before his farewell concert, Rutley couldn’t help but think of his dad and the influence music had on his life.

“I’ve always loved all types of music but my passion really is concert and jazz music. I remember my dad playing it as a kid and falling asleep to it,” Rutley said. “It just came natural to me and I just knew it had to be part of my life.

“My dad doing that and taking me to concerts, really had a huge impact on me, and and I’ve just been trying to do that for these kids.”

This might be his swan song as a musical director, but Rutley isn’t ready to dry out his reed and latch up his saxophone case. Not even close.

A performer at heart, and always willing to pick up an instrument and join with the kids, the veteran music teacher said his first love, the alto saxophone, has been something he really wants to get back to.

“There’s never a shortage of kids who play the alto saxophone, so I rarely get to play it, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it and learning as much as I can now,” he said.

Standing in front of a sea of friendly faces at the Bell theatre, his fingers popped along the keys of his saxophone as Rutley and his students played their hearts out. The farewell might mean you won’t see him around the music room at Lord Tweedsmuir, but it’s not the end. This was merely a night for friends, it was a night for family and, in music, Rutley sees those as one in the same.

So too did his daughter Crystal, who followed her fathers path into teaching music.

“My brother and sister and myself all went through the program, but we also have lifelong friendships here,” said Crystal Hermann, one of Rutley’s three children.

“He’s out there selling kids on the program, making sure people are loving music, and to see him putting that effort in for a career of this length is so inspiring to me,” she said.

Music has the ability to move, to evoke emotion, to bring out the best in people, and that’s what Rutley said he loves. But best of all music doesn’t have a best-before date, and neither does Ronald Rutley. He will continue to grow, continue to be part of music and continue to follow the philosophies he has believed in for the past 35 years.

“One band, one sound, music is one big family and there are no bench warmers here,” he said.

 

Ron Rutley, director of music with Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary honoured at a farewell concert as he prepares to retire at the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 22, 2018. Ryan McLeod/Freelance

Ron Rutley, director of music at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale, was honoured at a farewell concert at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday (June 22), as he prepares to retire from teaching. (Photo: Ryan McLeod)

Crystal Hermann, daughter of Ron Rutley, at Friday’s farewell concert for her father at Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey. (Photo: Ryan McLeod)

Ron Rutley, director of music at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale, was honoured at a farewell concert at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday (June 22), as he prepares to retire from teaching. (Photo: Ryan McLeod)

Ron Rutley, director of music at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale, plays trombone at his farewell concert at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday (June 22), as he prepares to retire from teaching. (Photo: Ryan McLeod)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

White Rock rail forum leads to renewed calls for relocation

Upgrading safety is not enough say local politicians

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

White Rock’s Johnston Road to re-open on schedule: city

One lane in each direction expected to open by Friday at 7 p.m.

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read