Mr. Hillius - Band & Choir

My name is Joel Hillius and I would like to welcome you to my website.  I will be the band, orchestra and choir teacher at Desert Thunder.


I grew up in West Fargo, North Dakota and went to school there. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education at Valley City State University with a Major in Vocal and Instrumental Music with a Vocal Specialization.   I have also received graduate credits from the University of Minnesota, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Rio Salado and Ottawa.


I have 36 years of teaching music.  13 years in North Dakota as a Band, Vocal 1st – 12 grade instructor.  9 years in Minnesota as a Choral, 1st -12 grade Vocal Instructor.  14 years in Avondale as a band, choir, orchestra and general music instructor.


I do have a few major accomplishments that my high school choirs and bands have done.
1.  In North Dakota I had a concert band and girls choir that received the highest rating at the Class B State competition.

2.  In Minnesota, I had a concert choir that received the highest rating at the State Competition.   

3.  In North Dakota and Minnesota we did well at the State Small group/solo competitions.  We scored over 200 State gold medals with these groups and solos.


When I was a high school choir teacher in Minnesota, I felt very honored when the Rotary Club of Minneapolis asked me to take over their foreign exchange choir and have them sing at the Regional Rotary Convention in Minneapolis.  We had over 40 countries represented in our choir.  It turned out to be a beautiful performance, however, we really had to work at our diction and vowel sounds.  There were many different foreign accents to work on.


I have been married for 32 years and have a daughter that is a cosmetologist and has her own studio in northwest Tucson, AZ.   We have a son that works in computer networking in Grand Forks, ND.  I also have two brothers that live in Minnesota that are very musically inclined.

In our house, education and music played a major role in our lives. My dad was known for his singing capabilities plus he was the high school principal for many years.  My mom was also known for being a vocalist, pianist and an elementary teacher.  They had me start my music education with piano lessons in first grade.  I took private piano lessons all the way through high school and into college.  I also started the violin in 5th grade and took private lessons through high school and played in the orchestra there.  I also played Tuba in the High School Band. 

My parents always supported me with my musical endeavors and made sure that I attended my weekly private lessons.  They also insisted that I practice a half hour daily on each instrument. I practiced the piano before school and the violin after supper.

I also have a love for sports where I spent hours playing basketball and golf after school and played on the high school basketball and golf teams.  

Learning an instrument helps in other areas:

I always talk about how learning band and orchestra instruments help develop the students reading and math abilities. They also help raise the students standardized test scores in reading and math.  I personally can attest to this.  I personally put in hundreds of hours practicing instruments.  Because of this, Senator Quentin Burdick nominated me for a full ride scholarship to West Point Academy.  There are many doors that will open with hard work and effort.

Enjoyment Philosophy:

I do believe that the students need to develop discipline and strong work habits in all of their classrooms.  To me, it is just a basic expectation that everybody gets their math, reading and writing skills down.  I do believe that learning music is a major aid in learning these basic skills.  When I put in the necessary practice, effort, and knowledge into a difficult piece of music, I get the true sense of enjoyment and accomplishment that music has to offer.  I hope that we will be able to instill that in our students at Desert Thunder.

If you ever need to get a hold of me here is my info:

Joel Hillius