Our Director


Dean McDowell studied conducting at the University of Michigan and received his B.A. in Music Education in 1975 from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For eleven years, Mr. McDowell worked as an instrumental, choral and elementary school music teacher in Ohio. In recognition of his enthusiastic and effective work with student musicians, Dean received the Martha Holding Jennings Scholarship for Outstanding Teacher and Leadership award. Dean also pursued his love for making music by directing community theatre productions as well as playing euphonium in the Capital Pride Band of Columbus which his partner Bob helped found. His ability to make things happen transitioned Dean’s career as a Music Educator to a specialized and sought after tour planner working with hundreds of high school music departments creating tours of a lifetime for literally thousands of students in the United States and abroad.


Dean moved from Columbus, Ohio to the Coachella Valley in 2006. The Desert Winds Freedom Band was in need of a permanent artistic director and Dean was enthusiastically recruited for the artistic director position in 2007. Under his artistic direction, the band has flourished and grown into a highly esteemed, openly LGBT and LGBT-friendly musical group for the Coachella Valley. Dean enjoys the challenge of bringing out the best of the band’s volunteer musicians and the audiences have responded in kind. Designing future performances that continue to draw audiences, seeking greater visibility and maintaining financial viability for the band are his priorities. Eight years ago, Dean suggested broadening the educational outreach of the band by bringing in guest composer/conductors to be featured with the Desert Winds performing their compositions, sponsoring workshops with these prestigious composers for the local high school band programs and to date giving $20.000.00 in scholarships to deserving high school seniors accepted to major in music in college.