Robert W. Metzger

Saanich Seniors: Retiree using music for the mind

Retired B.C. supreme court judge escaped cardiac arrest, now learning drums at 74 years old

Supreme Court of B.C. judge Robert W. Metzger didn’t choose to retire. But now that the health issues which forced him into it are behind him, he’s free to venture into new projects: like learning the drums.

“I wanted to do something for the brain and the research said, learn a new language, or learn music,” he said.

At 74, Metzger is learning from one of the best. His instructor, Mike Turnpenny, was a full time drummer with Canadian great Ronnie Hawkins, touring for the better part of the 1970s and 80s.

What makes Turnpenny an ideal coach, is that the 65-year-old is passionate about the mental acuity which can be gained and retained through learning the drums. It’s something the current generation of seniors are taking seriously.

“We’re only just reaching the double digits in terms of lessons together and I really appreciate (Metzger’s approach). You can’t take the basics lightly,” Turnpenny said.

Four years ago, while still with the supreme court, Metzger collapsed on a Victoria sidewalk near Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena from cardiac arrest. It was severe ventricular fibrillation, meaning it went beyond a medical emergency. Metzger, by all legal definitions, was dead. A passerby recognized the situation and manually pumped his heart, sending oxygen to his brain, and saved his life until the ambulance showed up. He was resurrected and induced into a coma at the Royal Jubilee Hospital for less than 10 days before waking up.

“I always appreciated life, so nothing changed there, it was just a matter of becoming healthier,” Metzger said. “The most signifcant change is adding a nap to my daily routine.

“(The irony was), if I had collapsed in my office (with the door closed) I would be dead. No one would have known,” Metzger  said.

In his Cordova Bay basement, Metzger keeps a full drum kit next to his exercise equipment. It’s a great kit and puts out a good sound, but, Turnpenny says, more important are the rubber practice pads nearby that make little to no noise.

“You don’t need a kit to drum. It’s really just a few bucks for some sticks and a practice pad. It’s all about the fundamentals, tap tap tap, which makes Metzger a great student,” Turnpenny said. “I can’t stress it enough.”

“I don’t want to sell myself short on how far I can go with the drums,” Metzger said. “I’m a Gene Krupa fan. I play around with the kit. But once you start doing that (too much) you limit your ability.”

Turnpenny has a few seniors and others who he teaches, though he’s selective of his students, seeking only those who will be a good fit and are committed.

Those interested may contact Turnpenny at 778-406-2145.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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