Pam Hyatt, director of bands for Midway ISD, would be the first to tell you she’s no one-woman band. “Having a team of great people in your life is how you keep everything balanced,” she said. And she has just that as she navigates the demands of her new job while finding time with her husband and 8-year-old son.
WACOAN: Is ‘balance’ something you think about in your everyday life or do you have to work for it? Does it come naturally?
Hyatt: I really have to work toward it, for sure. It’s very difficult to balance the demands of my job and also keep my family close.
WACOAN: Tell me about your family. What’s your husband’s name, and how do you work together to manage the family household?
Hyatt: My husband, Brandon, is very understanding of the demands of my job. He’s a musician himself and was a band director. We taught together for one year, but he decided to do other things because there is a lot of stress with the job.
He realized my passion for what I do and my talents, and he understands the demands of being a band director, which is absolutely necessary. A normal person might not understand why I’m gone so much and why I devote so much time to my work. He’s been very supportive. Right now, he has a part-time job so that he can basically take care of the family.
WACOAN: What does he do?
Hyatt: He works at Starbucks in Hewitt, so I can go see him and grab a cup of coffee. It allows him the flexibility to pick up our son and go to activities with him.
WACOAN: What’s your son’s name, and how old is he?
Hyatt: Aiden is 8 years old, and he goes to Woodway Elementary.
WACOAN: Tell me about Aiden. What’s the best thing about having him in your life?
Hyatt: Aiden, from day one, is the best child anyone could ever ask for. He was sleeping through the night from the first day. He’s very independent and he understands that I’m busy, so he finds things to keep himself occupied if he comes to work with me.
WACOAN: Is he musical?
Hyatt: No. He’s determined he’s going to play football. Hopefully that will change. The more he meets my band students, the more he thinks, ‘OK, I could do this.’ My students love him.
WACOAN: How did you get to Waco?
Hyatt: I’m from Austin, born and raised there. When I was looking at schools, I chose Baylor for its medical program because I was going to be an anesthesiologist. I got enrolled in that program and started going down that path but realized how much I missed music and how much I needed it in my life.
WACOAN: What was your musical background growing up?
Hyatt: I played flute. My mom picked it out for me in fifth grade, and I started lessons at a local music store — and I hated it. It wasn’t until seventh grade that I realized I was pretty good at it, which drove my passion.
I went to Leander High School, which was very successful in the band world, and I enjoyed all those experiences and what it did for my life. So I decided I wanted to share that with other kids.
WACOAN: At what point in college did you make the change?
Hyatt: Oh, it was the first month. I couldn’t live without it. When I got enrolled at Baylor, I thought I could join an ensemble and keep music in my life. But I was told that wouldn’t be possible, that I would be in school forever if I did that. So within two weeks I switched over.
WACOAN: Great to have that kind of clarity. So you knew you wanted music to be a big part of your life, but how did you decide on teaching?
Hyatt: I think I realized what an impact it had on me. I was a very quiet and shy kid for the most part. Music and leadership positions in music brought me out of my shell a little bit more.
WACOAN: How long have you been at Midway?
Hyatt: This is my first year. I was at China Spring [ISD] for 15 years. This year has been difficult to balance because I’m learning a whole new system. I’m still trying to figure out all the new responsibilities and still try to be home with my family. We’re still working on it.
WACOAN: Have you felt a lot of love from the Midway community? I imagine it could be hard to break into such an established tradition.
Hyatt: I have. That’s probably been the easiest part. The parents and the administration have been incredible. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. I couldn’t feel more welcome.
WACOAN: With a busy job and your mom responsibilities, what is your morning routine like?
Hyatt: I get up at 5:30, have a cup of coffee, check my email and go through my to-do list so I can get a head start on my day. That’s when I plan out my day.
My son gets up at 6 a.m., so I have 30 minutes of quiet time before it starts to get a little hectic. After that, I get ready. Like I said, he’s very independent, so he has his own routine for breakfast. Sometimes we think of him as a little adult running around our house. He has his own to-do list and helps pack his own lunch the night before.
WACOAN: Then do you drop off your son at school?
Hyatt: Yes, I do. That’s one time we always have together during the day. After I drop him off, I head to the high school.
WACOAN: Describe your typical workday. What do you spend most of your day doing?
Hyatt: When I get to school, I work with some of the kids and then I have some administrative time — about 30 minutes — when I can answer more emails and plan. Then, I go to another campus, where I teach sixth grade students.
WACOAN: So, you’re not just working with the high school.
Hyatt: No, I was hired to reorganize the Midway band program and assess its needs, so working on all the campuses is the best way for me to do that. So, I teach sixth grade for about an hour, and then I go over to the middle school for about an hour and a half. Then I go back to the high school and spend the rest of my day there. Marching band is sixth and seventh periods.
WACOAN: But your day doesn’t end there.
Hyatt: No. We have marching band practice from 4-5:30 p.m. And then, it’s trying to do all the other things I wasn’t able to get done during the day. I’m usually doing that until 7:30-8 p.m. That’s a normal day. It’s a long day.
WACOAN: Will it always be that way or is it because it’s new?
Hyatt: No, I don’t think so. Being new, I’m trying to figure out a system that works best. Once marching season is over, it will be better. Things won’t be as tedious.
WACOAN: Working with teenagers, especially creative, musical teens, there surely are challenges. What’s the most rewarding part of working with young musicians?
The joy is seeing kids’ potential and trying to help them see it themselves and push them in that direction.
When they meet those expectations, it’s so rewarding — for them but also for me as a teacher. I want them to understand what’s possible for them.
Also, there’s that inner connection with the joy of music and there’s a family feeling we try to build here, a home away from home. When you have those kids who come in early, really early, just to be with you, it’s a good feeling to know they feel safe within our walls.
WACOAN: What are your biggest challenges working with teenagers?
Hyatt: Trying to teach them balance. They are all involved in so many things, but you have to be committed and communicate with each of your groups. It’s definitely a life lesson. I like the fact that they’re involved in so many things, but they have to balance and not overstress themselves.
WACOAN: Do you spend time on the bus with the band? What is that like?
Hyatt: I am. It’s great! I enjoy spending time with them. The more memories you can make, the better. It’s a great bonding time, and I’m [seen as] kind of a person and not a band director when we’re having fun on the bus.
WACOAN: What’s the most important thing you want your students to carry with them past the high school band experience?
Hyatt: It’s a combination of things, really. We want them to be contributing members of society in whatever they choose to do. That’s the real goal. That they learn how to work with others and are responsible in all they do.
I want them to be committed to making the best product they can make and contributing it to whatever they are doing. We want them to strive to be the best.
WACOAN: How do you deal with the bad days?
Hyatt: I spend a lot of time reflecting on that. Was it me? Was it the situation? Was my expectation for the day too high? I try to find a way to fix that for the next day.
WACOAN: How do weeknights work in your house?
Hyatt: My son is already asleep when I get home. He needs sleep or he gets really grumpy. And when my husband works the opening shift at Starbucks, he has to be there at 4:30 a.m., so he’s already asleep too. So I often come home to a quiet house.
This year, it’s been hard to leave work behind, so when I get home, I still finish up some things from my day. But at least I’m at home.
WACOAN: Do you cook?
Hyatt: My husband cooks, and he is a wonderful cook. We have Find My Friends [app] on his iPhone, so he gets a notification when I leave work, and he starts up dinner for the two of us. Sometimes it’s a wonderful dinner and sometimes it’s whatever is in the fridge, but I’m really understanding about that because he does so much.
WACOAN: What kind of calendar do you use, paper or phone? And how do you keep up with everything you have to do?
Hyatt: I use my phone. I have an app called Awesome Note, which combines your to-dos, reminders and events and also has a place for notes. It keeps everything very organized.
WACOAN: Do you and your husband get a chance to go out just the two of you?
Hyatt: During marching season it’s nearly impossible to go out together. And on weekends, I have auditions or competitions, and I’m just not home. On Sundays, I’m exhausted. So I like to sleep in, and we will watch a family movie together or something like that.
Something that my husband does that’s really great is when he gets off work, he’ll leave a coffee in my car as a pick-me-up. I like to stop by when I’m between campuses and grab a coffee and say hello.
WACOAN: What kinds of things do you do for yourself to recharge and stay fresh?
Hyatt: I haven’t found much time for myself this year. I like to go get massages, but right now, there’s just not time. My one Zen moment is to go get coffee.
WACOAN: What about music?
Hyatt: I like to listen to Spotify and right now my favorite is [music from] “Grey’s Anatomy” because it’s trendy but has a different, more relaxing twist. I listen to a lot of self-reflection kind of music. I like music that is really peaceful because my life is so chaotic. When I get in the car, I look forward to listening to music that is calm.
WACOAN: What are your passions, outside of family and music? What causes are near and dear to your heart and how do you serve those?
Hyatt: Community service is so important, and I love to involve my students in that. At China Spring, we did lots of service projects together where we performed for events. Highway cleanup is another project we did and that’s really big with me. It’s so important to give back to the community that supports us, and I want the kids to realize that it’s important to say thank you.
WACOAN: What are the most important lessons you want to teach your son, about life, about balancing everything he wants to do?
Hyatt: Organization and planning ahead are important. We also want him to think about and care about the people around him, and we want him to find his passion in life, whatever that is.
If you focus your time and energy in the right way, you can do anything you want.
WACOAN: Do you have any must-have items that make your life easier, better, more fun?
Hyatt: My phone is the most important [material] thing to me. I have all my musical tools on there. I have my musical scores, so that when I do find a second when I’m not doing anything — I’m waiting in line — I can look things up.
Another thing I love having is a little wristlet that I can take with me to keep all my necessities really close — my phone, credit card. I carry a big purse, but the wristlet I can grab and go.
WACOAN: Do you have a personal motto or words you try to live by?
Hyatt: ‘Every day, in every way, I’m becoming better and better.’ Emile Coue said that. Each day, I try to make myself better than I was yesterday. It’s a slow process, and sometimes it’s just a tiny thing that I will make better from one day to the next. Also, having great people in your life — and really communicating with them — can help you keep life balanced.