Local retired band director receives prestigious award

Jerry Lisitza of Preeceville recently received a Saskatchewan Music Education Association (SMEA) honorary life time member award for his contributions to the association. The award was presented by Celia Hammerton, president of the SMEA at the Saskatoon Inn on November 16.

The Saskatchewan Music Education Association honorary lifetime member award is presented to retired or current members who have made a significant contribution to SMEA and music education in Saskatchewan.

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Lisitza moved 19 times throughout the past 13 years of his life, said a statement read at the event. He had never lived in a place longer that four years until his family moved to Churchbridge in 1972. In 1976, he graduated from Churchbridge High School. He enrolled at Mary College (known now as the University of Mary) in Bismarck, North Dakota in the fall of 1976 in the College of Music Education. Lisitza is an accomplished tuba player. He played with the college band, in the brass choir, the brass quintet, jazz band, and sang with the college choir and occasionally played with the Bismarck Mandan Symphony Orchestra. He received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education in the spring of 1980. He worked for over 33 years as a music educator, according to the statement.

In the fall of 1980, Lisitza was hired as a band director for the north band position for the Humboldt Rural School Unit. He had a heavy workload for his first music position. He worked with bands and band students from Grades 6 to 12 in nine communities: St. Benedict, Middle Lake, Pilger, Fulda, St. Brieux, Lake Lenore, Annaheim, Caramel and Marysburg from 1980 to 1982. Band rehearsals were held in Marysburg, a small school of no more then 36 students from kindergarten to Grade 8 with two staff members.

In the fall of 1982, after two years of teaching, he decided to take a break and go to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to further his music education. There he met Bonnie Becker and they were married in 1985. The couple had three sons: Ashton, Bryce and Darnell. All three played in Jerry's bands in Sturgis until they each graduated from Preeceville School. Lisitza took on a position as band director for the Sturgis School Division and had been working at Sturgis under the Good Spirit School Division until his retirement in 2014, according to the statement.

During his 28 years he was president and councillor for four teacher associations. He has been a Saskatchewan Band Association and SMEA member for numerous years. He served on the association executive board as Region 3 representative for 10 years.

"SMEA was one of the best organizations, that I could belong to," said Lisitza. "My heart is deeply rooted in music education. I was able to experience many other music endeavours being taught and delivered in our school systems. It was a pleasure to be on the board with SMEA.”

Jerry will be best be remembered for his numerous performances given by his bands in the communities and schools that he worked in. He is currently playing in the Yorkton Community Band and Jazz Band, concluded the statement.

Recently Lisitza has accepted a band instructor position for Grades 6 to 8 and some classroom music classes in four different schools in Moose Jaw in the South Prairie School Division. He is scheduled to begin his position on November 30.