Notre Dame Band Directors


Dr. Ken Dye
Director of Bands, Professor of Music
Dr. Ken Dye is Director of Bands and Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, where he holds a Doctorate in Music Education and a MBA in Marketing. He has also earned degrees of Master of Arts in Music from California State University and Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California.

As a composer/arranger, Ken Dye serves as a staff writer for several publishers and served as composer/arranger for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Band and pops arranger for the Dallas Symphony. His writing activities have produced over 1800 works for Band and orchestra performed throughout the U.S. and overseas.

Under his direction, the Notre Dame Band has performed concerts in the Sydney Opera House, Beijing Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall, as well as toured Europe, Asia, and Brazil. In 2012 the Notre Dame Band performed with the Band Chicago at Soldier Field and performed at the 2013 National Championship. In 2011 the Notre Dame Band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, considered the “Heisman Trophy” of collegiate bands.

Dye also serves as a concurrent professor of Computer Applications, developing the course Music through Technology, and teaches music from a business perspective in a course entitled The Business of Music. Most recently Dye’s research has involved the musical history of the Olympics and is incorporated in the course Music and the Olympics: A Soundtrack for Competition, Ceremony, and Celebration.

Prior to Notre Dame, Ken Dye taught at Rice University, University of West Georgia, high school in California, and schools in Mexico City. He has also served as director of the Opening Ceremonies of the U.S. Olympic Festival and conductor of the All-American College Band at Disney World.

Contact by Email

Larry Dwyer
Assistant Director of Bands, Director of Jazz Studies
Mr. Dwyer is a graduate of Notre Dame, where he was Outstanding Bandsman (1966), trombone soloist all four years with the concert band, and twice named “Best Trombonist” at the Collegiate Jazz Festival. He earned his Masters degree in music education and did doctoral studies at the University of Illinois.

Dwyer has been principal trombonist of the South Bend Symphony Pops Orchestra, pianist with his own jazz trio, and has performed with such jazz greats as Thad Jones, Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt, and Sarah Vaughan. Among his jazz band compositions are a religious trilogy: The Old Beelzebub Blues, Lord Save the Sinner, and The Abha Kingdom. His orchestral arrangements of the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and others have been performed and recorded by the South Bend Symphony, Houston Pops, Utah Symphony, and Rochester Philharmonic. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Mr. Dwyer taught band and jazz band in the South Bend public schools, and was director of jazz studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

Contact by Email

Sam Sanchez
Assistant Band Director
Sam Sanchez is an Assistant Director with the Notre Dame Band Program. He is a “Double Domer,” holding a Bachelor of Arts in Percussion Performance and a Master of Arts in Musicology, both from the University of Notre Dame.  He is also a recipient of Notre Dame’s Outstanding Band Member Award.  Mr. Sanchez is responsible for designing all of the halftime drills for the Notre Dame Band.  He also shares the conducting responsibilities of the concert bands and basketball bands, specializes in areas of music technology and video editing, and rehearses the percussion ensembles and drumline.

Mr. Sanchez is currently serving his second term as a member of the CBDNA Committee for Athletic Bands.  He also works with South Bend’s Salvation Army Kroc Center as coordinator for the percussion section of the Notre Dame Band’s BandLink Program.  Mr. Sanchez has taken bands to three Women’s Basketball Final Fours and two National Championship Games.  He also has served as an adjudicator/clinician for Bowl Games of America and internationally as an adjudicator for the New Zealand Concert Band Association’s National Festival in 2011.

Contact by Email

Justin McManus
Assistant Band Director
Justin McManus is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where he earned the M.M. in Bassoon Performance, B.S. in Music Education, and B.A. in Music (Bassoon).  During his time at UConn, Mr. McManus assisted with the “Pride of Connecticut” Marching Band, Varsity Basketball and Hockey Pep Bands, co-conducted the Concert Band, and performed in a wide array of ensembles.  An active bassoonist, Mr. McManus has studied with Mr. Ron Haroutunian of the Boston Pops, and Mrs. Alicia Simonetti-Sphur.

At Notre Dame, Mr. McManus co-conducts the Symphonic Band, University Band, and Basketball Varsity Bands, and teaches applied bassoon lessons.  He also conducts the French Horn Choir, Tuba/Euphonium Choir, and serves as an instructor for the Instrumental Techniques course.  His other duties include work with the band’s social media outreach and brass inventory oversight.

Contact by Email

Matt Merten
Assistant Band Director
Matt Merten is a graduate of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota where he earned a degree in Music Education and Trombone Performance. After teaching in the public schools of Saint Cloud and Albany (MN), he earned a Master of Music in Trombone Performance and Literature from the University of Notre Dame. He has performed with the St. Cloud Amadeus Orchestra (MN), Minnesota Center Chorale, and Regis Philbin’s Pop Orchestra. At Notre Dame he directs the New Orleans Brass Band, Trumpet Ensemble, Trombone Choir, co-directs the Brass Ensemble, Jazz Bands and teaches applied trombone lessons.

Mr. Merten is very active in music technology at Notre Dame. In addition to teaching portions of the Music Through Technology Course, he offers private instruction in multi-track recording and software synthesizers. He is also responsible for the production of the Band’s audio recordings.

Contact by Email

Alison Thigpen
Assistant Band Director
Alison Thigpen is a graduate of The University of Georgia where she earned a degree in Music Education. She earned her Masters in Music Education from the University of South Carolina. While at South Carolina, Ms. Thigpen served as a graduate assistant with the band program and co-conducted the University Band and Basketball Band, and assisted with the Carolina Marching Band. At Notre Dame, Ms. Thigpen directs the Symphonic Winds and University Band, oversees the Bandlink program, and is responsible for much of the band’s graphic design and publicity. Ms. Thigpen also teaches applied clarinet lessons, conducts the Clarinet Choir, and serves as an instructor for the Music and the Olympics and the Business of Music classes.

Contact by Email

Upcoming Events