May 14, 2007

'It's been a great ride'

After nearly 40 years teaching choir at DC, Don Anderson is retiring

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Although it’s been 39 years he’s been teaching choir in the Dassel-Cokato School District, the time has gone very quickly for Don Anderson.

The kids he’s taught, undoubtedly, had something to do with it. “I’ve always had a good group of kids,” Anderson said.

What really delighted Anderson was when his students volunteered to sing a solo or participate in an ensemble. “That was exciting,” he said.

During his time at DC, Anderson has had some wonderfully talented students, where all he had to do was provide a little guidance, he said.

Anderson also enjoyed helping students develop a talent they had a heart for, he said.

When asked what he will miss the most, Anderson first said the kids, and secondly, the process of making music.

“Music makes you feel really good. There is emotional content that speaks directly to one’s being,” he said.

Anderson explained that students in seventh and eighth grade don’t quite know yet what they like. In ninth grade, he sees students begin to take hold of what they enjoy and want out of life.

One day, on his drive from Watertown, where he lives, to work, Anderson heard a piece of music that saddened him. He knew he wouldn’t be conducting that piece of music any longer, he said.

What he definitely won’t miss about teaching is the paperwork that goes along with it and the preparation it entails, he said.

The highlight of Anderson’s career was undoubtedly the concert he conducted for the opening of the new Performing Arts Center.

“After all those years of waiting for the chance, the moment had finally arrived and it was exhilarating,” he said. What makes the PAC so extraordinary for Anderson is the level of acoustics. He conducted in many other auditoriums before, both new and old, but none that compared to the PAC, Anderson said.

“It is one of the finest in the state,” he said.

The versatility of the PAC creates wonderful situations and opportunities for students, he said.

Anderson spoke briefly about the merger of the two independent school districts, which he was able to be a part of.

“This is one of the most successful mergers anywhere,” he said. “It has really worked.”

Anderson has also seen some changes throughout the years regarding his students and education. The first being the accessibility of information. “Students are bombarded with information and it’s hard for them to disseminate between the good and bad information given to them,” he said.

Nowadays, it’s rare for him to see a student without a cell phone and an iPod, he said.

Also, with new social adjustments kids have to make in single parent households and the like, Anderson said DC is working really hard to accommodate those changes.

Financially, Anderson has seen a shift from the “good of the whole” to the “good of an individual.” With this shift comes financial difficulties for districts and the state.

Through these changes, Anderson said, the district has planned well for the future.

Although he will no longer be teaching music to Dassel-Cokato students, he will continue to work with his church choir.

His retirement will allow for him to spend more time with his new granddaughter, Ella, as well as doing much needed work around the house, he said.

“It’s been a great ride,” Anderson said.

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