Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Janet Bein, Young at Heart Diva
JoAnna Byng and Tawney Lee Hunt are two athletic and musical divas that I was lucky to meet on my recent visit to the delightfully mellow but lively Hawaiian island of Maui.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking their fitness classes and was intrigued to discover that they both were seriously involved with music.

Byng is Fitness Coordinator of Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, where she enjoys teaching Zumba, Zumba Gold, Aqua Zumba, and yoga. She established the resort’s first in-house fitness program three years ago and works a full-time forty hour week as the Fitness Coordinator. But that’s not her only job. Byng is also a professional flutist and piccolo player with Maui Chamber Orchestra and Maui Pops. She is also a single mother of a twelve year old son, and she gives private lessons in flute and piccolo.

How does she do it all?

“I get up early,” she said. “I do some prep work for dinner and other house stuff before I leave for work. As the Fitness Coordinator, I can adjust my hours to accommodate my son’s schedule. Some days, he has after-school activities and I work later. A couple of times a week, I leave earlier and pick him up from school.”

“What about your rehearsals for concerts?” I asked.

“I have enough training and experience that I need less rehearsals than some of the other musicians. The conductor knows that he can count on me.”

Byng told me that she started going to fitness classes when she was working on her masters Music from University of Massachusetts. “I needed some physical activity for my own well being to compensate for all the time I spent practicing my music and working on the computer.”

At some point, she was taking so many fitness classes that she decided to train as an instructor. “I figured that way I could keep getting physical activity and also get paid for it.”

She found that her musical background helped her to be a better choreographer for Zumba and the combination of careers gives her a sense of balance.

The other fitness instructor, Tawney Lee Hunt, who teaches yoga, boot camp, and aqua exercise, is another surprisingly multi-faceted diva. Like Byng, Hunt has a strong musical aptitude. But she is more into contemporary music. She plays guitar, sings, and is finishing her first CD. She also published a children’s book and had a previous career as advertising executive and a national windsurfing champion. Like Byng, Hunt spent a lot of her years as a single mother, raising two sons. The older son is an engineer who runs an alpaca ranch in the state of Washington. The younger son is a professional surfer, who lives locally but spends a lot of time traveling.

Amazingly fit and youthful, Hunt does not hide her delight in her three-year-old grandson. She takes care of him a couple of times a week, and told me that he is always asking her for more “grandma music”.

I asked Byng and Hunt for some suggestions about where locals go for live music and dancing.

Byng tends to favor more classical concerts and recommended that visitors check out the schedule of the Maui Chamber Orchestra and Maui Pops Orchestra. I had been totally unaware of these options before talking to Byng. I don’t think that the typical resort or hotel concierge refers these events.

• The Maui Chamber Orchestra performs at Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. See the concert schedule here.

• The Maui Pops Orchestra performs at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC), located at One Cameron Way in Kahului. All concerts begin at 3:00pm on Sundays. Their Holiday Pops Concert is particularly popular and this year will include guest artist. Broadway vocalist Capathia Jenkins. See the concert schedule here.

• The MACC also has a lot of other exciting musical events. Check out their calendar.

Hunt recommended the Kihei Triangle as an area with several places for more casual, contemporary live music, including:

• Life’s a Beach
• Three’s Bar & Grill
• Ambrosia Martini Lounge
• South Shore Tiki Lounge

Hunt also mentioned Kahale’s Beach Club, but with a caveat that they tend to attract a rowdier crowd.

Both Hunt and Byng recommended Fleetwood’s in Lahaina for music and dancing.

Also check the Maui Times for the latest information on current entertainment, including live music.

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