During his first period class, Josh Thye conducted Desert Vista High School’s top wind ensemble Thursday morning as they worked through a crinkle in the song “Shooting Stars.”
“It doesn’t feel right to me, does it feel right to you?” Thye asked the near 40-member ensemble as they rehearsed a section. The students agreed as Thye added, “I don’t want you to count, just be in the pulse.”
Thye’s attention to detail has had time to marinate with his lively teaching style over a 10-year career at Desert Vista. Such combination of meticulous practice and sincere love for music has proven successful for both Thye and his students.
Last week, Thye was nominated as the only high school band director for the Arts in Education-Individual category. Recognized by the Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, both groups will present winners in each of the awards’ six categories.
“It’s certainly an honor,” Thye said.
The awards are given out every year and aim to showcase efforts of individuals and organizations who contribute to Arizona’s arts and cultural community. But for Thye, the recognition and appreciation all boil down to one important perspective; his students deserve just as much credit.
“Honest to goodness, they are the ones doing all the work,” he said between classes on Thursday. “So I try to encourage and lead them.”
Thye jokingly asked how much sound he makes while performing, as he waved around his hand to mimic conducting.
“They’re the ones in the practice rooms, coming in early and staying late,” he added.
Principal Dr. Anna Battle said Thye is “an amazing educator, who parents, students and teachers emulate.”
The Desert Vista alum, with two young daughters and what he described as a “wonderful, very patient wife,” will attend the Governor’s Arts Awards event March 6 at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix where winners within each category will be announced.
Until then, Thye is keeping busy with attending nearby concerts supporting school music departments and celebrating the 86 students within Desert Vista’s music department who were placed in honors ensembles during last week’s Region Honor Festival auditions.
“Ten years ago, we were celebrating 10 students making regionals,” he said. “I’m just blown away, and so excited.”
Even with seeing his senior band and ensemble students leading younger students or coaching the new Ahwatukee Youth Band, Thye said it is rewarding for him to be part of a community that produces “homegrown” musicians.
“All that I try to do is provide something the students can be proud of,” Thye said. “I’m just a young gun who is just trying to put things together.”
For more information on the awards, visit governorsartsawards.org.
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