DUSD Hires Veteran Band Director

Don Thissen

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Mr. Donald Thissen brings to Denair Unified School District over 28 years of music teaching experience in public schools and private lessons in California, Oregon and Nevada, with bands as small as six students to groups over 200 strong. Mr. Thissen will lead the high school band, the middle school band, fifth grade band, and elementary music.

Mr. Thissen graduated from Fresno State with a degree in Music Education after attending Chowchilla High School. He has performed professionally as a trombone player with the Merced Symphony (where he was also manager), Tulare County Symphony, the Fresno Philharmonic, the Eugene Opera and with community concert and jazz bands in California and Oregon. He has performed with jazz greats Don Ellis, Maynard Ferguson, and others from the Old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

At Denair, Mr. Thissen would like to see the program grow back to a full time position. In time, he envisions the introduction of Beginning Guitar, Jazz Studies/Jazz Band, and developing greater continuity within the music program, to keep students who begin an instrument in elementary school continuing through high school graduation.

Mr. Thissen loves working with youth. His favorite moments are those “I got it” moments when his students’ faces beam with pride for what they have accomplished with music. He added, “It’s great to see them show what they have learned and express the love of music that I brought to them.”

Mr. Thissen has been married to his “best friend” Nancy for over 38 years. They met in college and have two sons who are both married. The Thissens have five grandchildren.

DUSD Bands Off and Running

MS Band Students

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Under the direction of substitute music teacher Ms. Julie Mefferd, Denair High School and Denair Middle School band students began practice this week. Within two days of the start of the school year, students already had instruments in hand.

Denair High School band, which currently has 21 students, began warm ups immediately. Student Band President, Andrew Knapp, said many band students felt rusty after not playing their instruments over the summer. He led warm-ups the first two days. Ms. Mefferd commented last week that the high school band is ready for Pep Band performances at home football games, the first of which is August 29, 2014. The band is polishing its “Imperial March” song from the movie Star Wars and rehearsing “The Star Spangled Banner” which they plan to perform at half time of the Homecoming Game October 24.

Middle School Band, which has approximately 50 students, began practice last Wednesday. Ms. Mefferd set the students in concert formation and began sectional warm ups on a practice piece. Students continue to work on fundamentals. Those who have their own instruments are encouraged to bring them everyday.

On August 19, 2014, Denair Unified School District hired retired band director Mr. Donald Thissen, to replace Ms. Cathy George, who left the district this summer. Mr. Thissen, an accomplished trombone player, has taught music K-12 including jazz and concert band and marching band.