It takes one to know one. Jessica Ganska, Renton Technical College’s new Band Instrument Repair Technician program instructor, understands her students because she is an alumnus.
Hailing from Erie, Pennsylvania, Ganska initially attended West Chester University outside Philadelphia, where she studied music education. Upon graduation, she began teaching high school band and choir at Smyrna High School in Delaware.
“I taught there for 11 years. I loved teaching and I loved the kids. It just got to be an issue of work-life balance. I spent a lot of time teaching and not a lot of time doing anything else. That’s when I decided I wanted to go into repair,” she said.
Ganska researched online and discovered there were only three instrument repair programs nationwide. Having not yet visited the Pacific Northwest, she decided to take a trip and visit RTC. She was impressed with the instructor, Dan Bainbridge.
In 2012, she relocated to the area and began learning instrument repair in the program she now teaches. “I want to help the field. I want to see more repair technicians in the field,” said Ganska.
She explained that the program teaches students the “big five” – flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone. These instruments are the ones that most young musical students start to learn music on.
“I’ve really enjoyed being part of the process of helping young technicians learn how to get in the field. I have a really good group of students, so things have been going really well in the first month.” Students must be able to play one of the “big five” instruments in order to enter into the program.
Ganska explained that there is a big music scene in the greater Seattle area. The Band Instrument Repair Technician program helps place students through networking. “We have a professional organization – the National Association for Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians. The organization helps with further the education of repair technicians in the field. They also have a board that lists jobs. Companies throughout the United States will actually email me looking for qualified students to employ,” she said
The Band Instrument Repair Technician program at RTC started in 1979. “We work with the other programs in a collaborative way. Because of our location and the classical music and jazz that goes on, we have an advantage over the other two programs,” said Ganska.
When Ganska isn’t at RTC, she is hanging out with her two cats, hiking, reading and playing board games.