Yankton college band director retires after 33 years

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YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — The longtime band director and his trademark trumpet are retiring from their post at Mount Marty College in Yankton after 33 years.

Dean Rettedal is stepping down this spring as a faculty member and band director at the college, the Yankton Press & Dakotan (http://bit.ly/1e4S77K ) reported. The trumpet player directs the concert, pep and jazz bands, as well as the Weed Brass Quintet.

"I can't believe it's been 33 years," Rettedal, 65, said. "It's amazing how times flies."

He's spent so much time at the school that he's been able to see the generations of students change before his eyes.

"I had certain students when I first started and now, several years later, their children are here (at Mount Marty) and performing in the band. The first time that happened was really strange," he said. "Still, it's amazing how much has stayed the same. The students' enthusiasm seems to be the same, and they come here so full of energy."

Rettedal, who originally hails from nearby Scotland, taught secondary school bands in Centerville after graduating from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He eventually returned to the university to earn his master's degree and then headed to Emmettsburg, Iowa, to teach high school band.

Rettedal returned to Scotland after he and his wife bought the town's clothing store in 1979, and shortly thereafter began thinking about applying for a part-time teaching position at one of the local colleges.

"Then I heard from Jack Lyons (at Mount Marty), whose first trumpet player was in a car accident and had broken a front tooth. I filled in for him at that concert," Rettedal said. "During that time, Jack and I had a conversation, and I learned Mount Marty's band director was leaving. The position had been full-time, but they changed it to a part-time job by shifting courses to someone else."

He was hired for the part-time position of instructor, and eventually worked his way up to his current position of associate professor. Rettedal has witnessed many stages both on stage and in the classroom throughout the past three-plus decades, he said.

"There are fewer music majors. There are jobs out there. Music majors don't have a problem finding jobs," he said. "One other trend you're seeing, the schools in South Dakota and Nebraska generally are getting smaller. And as the schools get smaller, they're combining positions and having just one band and vocal director."

Under Rettedal, Mount Marty bands have played in Germany and at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls. Rettedal will keep playing music, but he'll miss working with students, he said.

"It's just the work with the students that's so gratifying. That will be what I miss the most," he said. "I enjoy the collegiality with people here at Mount Marty, and the students really keep you going."

And Rettedal's colleagues and students will miss him, too, according to Kenneth Tice, chair of the school's music department and director of choral activities.

"Dean Rettedal has been an institution here at Mount Marty College as director of bands for 33 years," Tice said. "He has welcomed countless students and community members into his bands, and (he) entertained a myriad of visitors to our campus as well as schools and organizations on spring tours."


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/

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