“Kids don’t always remember the lessons you teach them, but they remember how you made them feel while teaching them.”
Commerce High School Band Director Kara Wallace imparted these and other lessons to Texas A&M University-Commerce music students last Friday as part of the Women in Music Speaker Series.
During the event, hosted by the Epsilon Beta Chapter of the Tau Beta Sigma music sorority at A&M-Commerce, Wallace spoke to students about her time as an A&M-Commerce student and shared some of the lessons she has learned in 15-plus years of teaching music.
Wallace is the first guest outside of the music department’s faculty to be invited to speak since the series began two years ago, said Chapter President Alex Villa.
“There has been a lot of collaboration between the A&M-Commerce music department and the Commerce High School band since Wallace became the director,” Villa explained. “With her being an A&M-Commerce alum and successful in her field, we felt she would be a good choice to speak.”
Wallace, who graduated from A&M-Commerce in 2004, told the Herald-Banner earlier in the week that she was eager to speak with students in the same position she was in previously.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Wallace said. “I remember being at that point in my life wanting to know everything I didn’t know.”
The director told attendees Friday night about her experience paying her way through college, working odd jobs and providing music lessons so she could continue her education. She also shared her experiences as one of the directors of the Rockwall High School band, and how she was interviewed for the top band director position three separate times but turned down each time.
“They said I didn’t have enough experience,” Wallace said, adding that a male with roughly the same years of experience she had was chosen instead. “It was really hard, but I made the decision to leave.”
Wallace then took a position at North Forney before being hired for the head position in Commerce this summer. She described herself as “the luckiest band director in the world” when talking about the students at CHS and the vision that the administration and parents had for the band program.
Wallace stressed the importance of staying true to oneself in a work environment, and advised women in the audience that it is “okay to be a woman” in a male-dominated field such as band education.
The reception from students was positive. Maddie Schram said afterward that she thought Wallace was “powerful” in her insight and advice.
“I think Mrs. Wallace was a good choice for a speaker, as she has lots of experience but is still relatively young and can relate to what we college students are going through,” Schram noted. “I loved it. It’s good to see how women are changing the world of music education.”