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  • Writer's pictureEmmy Rozanski

The Musical Life of Derek Molacek

Photo credit: Justin Mohling of Cornhusker Photoworks

One of the wonderful things about creating this blog is connecting with new people. Derek Molacek is one of those people. He reached out to me a few weeks back and I thought he would be a great person to interview for the blog. Derek is currently adjunct faculty at Iowa Western Community College and, like most of us, has a few other jobs as well. Derek is also a former member of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. I think you'll enjoy reading about his musical journey so far.

ER: Tell us about your musical background and what you currently do.

DM: I grew up in a musical family, with my dad and my uncle as amateur musicians. I earned my bachelor's in Music Jazz Studies- Trombone from the University of Denver; my master's in Music Jazz Studies- Trombone from the University of North Texas; and my doctor of musical arts in Music Composition- Jazz Emphasis from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Between my master's and my doctorate I was also a member of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. Currently, I live in Omaha and teach as an adjunct at Iowa Western Community College. For one semester I was their Interim Director of Instrumental Music. In addition, I also teach at two local music stores and have done clinics and masterclasses around Southeastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. I also work part-time as a clerk in a local grocery store in their wine and spirits department.

ER: What was your biggest challenge after graduating from music school?

DM: Finding the path forward towards a full-time teaching position, and being able to afford the steps and the gear necessary to take those steps.

ER: What did you do during music school that helped prepare you for life after school?

DM: I learned how to organize and present a lecture in front of a class. I also learned how to organize and write a syllabus. During my master's I also learned, albeit the hard way, the process of applying for a teaching job as well as how to best prepare for an audition. I made efforts to take auditions as much as possible. As far as applying for adjunct positions during my doctorate, openings in my location were very limited, as were opportunities to teach both within and outside the university.

ER: What were your career goal in school? Have they changed?

DM: Following my time in the Air Force, I set a goal to teach full-time at the college level. That goal has not changed, though I'm finding that goal much more difficult to achieve as time goes on.

ER: What actions did you take during the first year or two after graduation that were successful?

DM: Focusing on restructuring my cover letters as well as working on research to present at a variety of different conferences and clinics. Honing my teaching skills by focusing on making instructional videos, and offering my services for clinics and masterclasses.

ER: Looking back, what do you consider to be the most important step that you took for your music career?

DM: Taking the initiative while working at my adjunct position to build a greater teaching portfolio. This includes my stint as Interim Director of Instrumental Music, and volunteering to coach small jazz groups and brass ensembles.

ER:What advice would you give someone in music school or recently graduated from music school?

DM: Consider your options carefully: In addition to your main instructor, also examine location, as well as student successes from the institution you are looking at that match your own goals. Be sure to look at all options when plotting your career and learn to be as diverse as possible.

ER: Where can people find you?

DM: My Facebook artist page:

My YouTube Page:

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