Karan Pitts

TODA Orchestra Director of the Year - 2005

Karan Pitts is currently "retired" from 37 years of being an Orchestra Director at various public school positions.  She began playing violin in the fourth grade in Cleveland OH when she saw her good friends carrying a strange looking case and was intrigued.  It was a violin, and she knew then that she wanted one of those, too.

Karan came to the University of Texas in Austin to work with the String Project and Phyllis Young.  Thus began her career and love affair with teaching.  Her first teaching position was at Miller Intermediate School in Pasadena.  Mr Hext was her Principal and he told her she needed longer skirts!  She promised him she would be happy to do that as soon as she received her first pay check! (She was wearing a miniskirt at the time.)

Her first mentors were Ralph Burford, Director of Music for Pasadena ISD, and her teaching collegues Barbara Eads, Jay Dunnahoo, Alex Pancheri, and Jim Lewis and Betty Baker.  From them she learned about high standards, excellence, and musicality.  From her mentors she learned the importance of giving back to the profession and being active in state music organizations.

Karan has been actively involved in many state organizations.  She served two different terms as TMEA Vice President and Orchestra Division Chair, served as the Region 10 Orchestra Chair for 16 years, and had also been the Region 19 Orchestra Chair.

She served on the TODA Board for  four years before becoming the President, has been the President of TexASTA, vice president of TMAA, and has served on committees for curriculum writing, adjudication standards, new teacher recruitment, TAAS implementation, and has helped in the writing of the music portion of TEKS.

She has been a respected TMAA adjudicator, traveling the state to judge and clinic both on the junior high, and high school levels.  Her written comments have influenced many programs.

Karan holds a BM in Education from The University of Texas at Austin and an MFA from the University of Houston Clear Lake.  Karan is proactive and committed to the goals and needs of music education and the fine arts.

Karan's teaching career began a new phase when she entered Goose Creek.  She opened Gentry Junior School in 1982.  While in GCCISD she worked to build the program, and worked to build a new orchestra rehearsal hall at Sterling High School.

In 35 years of Orchestras in both Pasadena and Baytown, her Orchestras have been awarded 55 UIL Sweepstakes trophies.  Her advanced Orchestra at Beverly Hills Int was selected TMEA Honor Orchestra in 1982.  She has taught and guided many string students selected for All State, and has instructed numerous string soloists and ensembles who have achieved top ratings at the Texas UIL State Solo and Ensemble Contest.  Six students have been selected for the National High School Honors Orchestra sponsored by MENC with ASTA and NSOA.

"My ability to jump into the middle of a situation armed with a positive attitude, combined with a willingness to value opinions and suggestions from many sources, have been great assets.  My focus has always been on the future of Orchestra in the schools.  Recruiting new music educators is a must!  I think I can add strength to this quest, since at least 20 of my former students are now active or involved in music or music education careers.  I've always tried to inspire my students to go the extra mile.  My biggest thrill is knowing that there is another generation of music educators in the classroom today because of my leadership and passion."

Recently, Karan has returned to the classroom, and to her passion for teaching.  She assists long- time friend and orchestra director Charles Jones at LaPorte JH, and Dr Geoff Carlton at LaPorte HS.  She continues to play the violin and enjoys life to the maximum.