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Mike Dana to Be Inducted into Jazz Hall of Fame, Will Retire in May

Mike+Dana+and+his+wife+Julie+Dana+rehearse+with+their+Jazz+Vocal+Ensemble+class+together+at+Fresno+City+College.
Mike Dana and his wife Julie Dana rehearse with their Jazz Vocal Ensemble class together at Fresno City College.

Mike Dana and his wife Julie Dana rehearse with their Jazz Vocal Ensemble class together at Fresno City College.

Photo by: Noah Villaverde

Photo by: Noah Villaverde

Mike Dana and his wife Julie Dana rehearse with their Jazz Vocal Ensemble class together at Fresno City College.

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Before he retires from Fresno City College this May,  Jazz Studies Director Mike Dana will be inducted into the California Alliance for Jazz Hall of Fame in San Jose on Feb. 16.  

Dana is in his 28th and final year as the Jazz Studies director at FCC and will retire at the end of the spring 2018 semester.  

“As I look back at the people that I know that were inducted before me, there are people that I always admired and respected,” Dana said. “To be included in that company is an honor.”

The California Alliance for Jazz inducts candidates into their Hall of Fame based on their record in benefiting not just the school where they teach, but the broader Jazz community.

Prior to working at FCC, Dana taught within the Fresno Unified School District and has served as a music educator for 36 years.

“It is bittersweet that this will be my last semester teaching here,” Dana said.

Beyond his contributions as FCC’s Jazz Studies director, Dana credits his numerous accomplishments as a musician for being inducted.

He has composed music that has been distributed and performed around the world.

In 2016, Dana was nominated for a Grammy honoring the top music educator in the nation.  In 2017, he was a guest composer in residence at the University of Montana.

“My love for jazz education is beyond just what I do here at Fresno City College,” Dana said. “I take what I love of music and jazz in particular to people all over California, the U.S. and abroad.”

Photo by: Noah Villaverde
Mike Dana plays his guitar accompanying with his Jazz Vocal Ensemble class during rehearsal at Fresno City College.

His advice to students is that creativity enhances education.

“Without exploring and enhancing our creative sensibilities, I don’t think we would be a complete human being,” Dana said and that applies to all, not just music majors.

“People sometimes feel like they either have to pursue music as a major or they have to stop, and that really isn’t the case,” he explained.

Dana has traveled around the world as an educator. He and his wife Julie Dana, a fellow music educator at FCC, are involved with the jazz education abroad program.

This spring, Dana will travel to Thailand to teach for a week. He will also travel to the island of Cyprus for another week of teaching, followed by a trip to Lebanon.

Along with their involvement in the jazz education abroad program, they currently teach a vocal jazz ensemble class together.

Julie Dana says they have learned a lot from each other’s expertise.

“He knew nothing about choral music, and that was all I knew,” she said. “I’ve done jazz before, but not in a way that I do it now because I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Mrs. Dana also said she believes her husband’s induction into the California Alliance for Jazz Hall of Fame is well deserved.

“He’s really a master educator and it’s about time he got something like this,” she said. “It’s a pretty exciting time for us, and I’m pretty proud of him.”

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About the Contributor
Noah Villaverde, Entertainment Editor

Noah Villaverde is a 21-year-old who currently resides in Fresno, California and is a Mass Communications and Journalism major at Fresno City College. He was born and raised in Fresno and is now serving his third semester with the Rampage and his first as the Arts & Entertainment Editor.

Noah’s passions are intertwined within the popular culture. Ever since his adolescent years, he has developed an interest in cinema, television and music. His interests in cinema were first sparked after he watched “The Dark Knight” in 2008 after recovering from a fire that affected his family’s home. What started out as a nice distraction for Noah turned into a passion that has followed him to this day.

Before he gained an interest in writing, Noah had a short-lived tenure on YouTube as a movie reviewer a la “At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper.” The monopolized nature of YouTube eventually drove Noah away from that spotlight and soon allowed him to focus more on written reviews and quick blogs regarding film, television and comic books. Noah’s blog writing eventually landed him a position as a staff writer at the comic book film/television blog Heroic Hollywood.

Besides reporting on popular culture, Noah also enjoys working behind the camera to craft news stories through video as well as editing them together. When not reporting or doing his schoolwork, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, watching movies on both the big and small screens, playing the saxophone and volunteering as a church youth leader.

Follow Noah on Twitter @noahgreenark_V

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Mike Dana to Be Inducted into Jazz Hall of Fame, Will Retire in May