Past President Interviews
You can learn a lot from the women who came before us…
Gamma Zeta Chapter
National President 1979-81
Connie Reishus, a clarinet player from the Gamma Zeta chapter of TBS was the National President from 1979-1981. Since her initiation into Tau Beta Sigma in 1969, she has seen many changes throughout our Sorority.
During her Presidency, Ms. Reishus played her clarinet in the NIB for W. Francis McBeth’s The Seventh Seal. She met numerous conductors and composers. Ms. Reishus has met many friends through the sisterhood and has very special memories. She mentioned that National conventions were not as easy for all officers to be present as they are today. They had to pay for their own trips without an allotment given from the district or national funds.
Improvements she has seen are numerous. Ms. Reishus said that the Sorority is worth more now than ever before with the service to bands and numbers of active members growing. She said that the NIB is so much better, and that the alumni much stronger. The best improvement she has seen is the technology use within the group. With the Internet growing, she sees e:mail as a terrific means of communication. Throughout all of her time as a member in TBS, she has been in National Offices, installed colonies to chapters, and was also a district counselor. Today she remains active in TBS through her local chapter and as a member on the Board of Trustees. She is a band and choir director at Stockton High School in Stockton, KS. She teaches the music program for grades 5-12 there.
by Jennifer Glenn, Alpha Omicron
Janet West Miller
National President 1955-1957
After attendance at 20 National Conventions and almost 50 years of involvement in TBS, Janet West Miller has seen the evolution of TBS into the organization it is today. Janet was one of the charter members of the Iota Chapter at Baylor University, which was installed in 1948. During the colonization process, she acted as the petition editor for her chapter. Janet attended her first National Convention in 1951. At the 1953 Convention, she was elected at the National 1st Vice President of TBS. After serving two years in this capacity, Janet was elected as TBS’s 6th National President. While presiding over the National Delegation at the 1957 Convention in Salt Lake City, UT, Janet had the pleasure of playing with the NIB in the Mormon Tabernacle. After serving her term as National President, Janet was the first past National President to elected to the Board of Trustees. Previously, only the wives of band directors had been members of the Board.
During Janet’s time in college and immediately afterwards, the world of bands was in a period of major transition. In WWII, college bands were kept alive only by the participation of female students. As the men returned to the college scene, the nation was having to rethink the role of the woman. Janet graduated in 1950 from Baylor and was hired as an assistant band director. While she did experience resistance to the idea of a female band director, Janet also received much support, with her involvement in TBS, providing recognition from others.
In 1993 , Janet saw her involvement in TBS come full circle, as her daughter, Karon Miller, was elected National Secretary. Through it all, Janet believes that TBS still stands for the ideals with which it was founded.
Rita Becallo Garner Caviness
Eta Beta Chapter
National President 1991-1993
1) What are the biggest changes you have seen in TBS? “The willingness to try different things and be creative. There are more issues being addressed that were never addressed before. The Sorority is expanding its abilities and finding new ways to utilize its capabilities in many areas.”
2) What has TBS offered you? “Having a common goal or goals with people. The love of music, band, and knowing there are other people who understand the benefits music education offers. TBS has allowed me to create a network in my field.”
3) What was it like being a charter member of the Eta Beta Chapter at the University of North Alabama? “The band director Dr. Jones planted the seed. I asked him if there was a music/band sorority I could pledge to and he said he was working on it. It was complicated. Everything had to go through the music department, the dean, everybody. TBS was unique in that it was a service sorority but there was a social aspect to it as well. I remember that Julie Kuhns was the National President then and we really had to prove ourselves. Back then colonization took nearly two years. We worked quickly and hard to get the chapter started. We also had to administer our own tests. Our big sister chapter of South Carolina would mail them to us. We had no idea of hazing. We were educating ourselves and that made us unique. Hazing occurs because it is passed down through generations and becomes tradition. That is why hazing is so hard to break. But Sisterhood and Brotherhood is not fostered through negative reinforcement.”
4) What made you desire to be National President? “I felt like I had ideas and the willingness to benefit the organization. I feel like deep in my heart that people do not realize how important it is to me. Band directors need these organizations. So many wonderful things can be done by TBS. It is up to us to ensure band programs continue. When finances are cut, the arts are the first to go. They feel it is not a necessity TBS must come up with reasons why we need music in schools and prove those reasons. Reasons such and band students generally score higher on SATs. People are no longer going to accept the reason that music education should be saved because music is music.”
5) What changes occurred while you were President? “We moved off of the college campus at OSU and acquired Stillwater Station. Now we had a piece of property that we were responsible for and would be under our direction. There is no way to describe how small the National Office was. It was not big enough for three officers.”
Suzanne Wetmore Larson
National President 1947-1949
Suzanne was National President from 1947-1949 and was then married shortly thereafter. She didn’t get involved with TBS again until 1981 when she received her ring (Past President’s ring). She came to the National Convention this year because of the 50th Anniversary. Both she and her husband play in a community band and both have been officers in that band for over a decade. When she was National President, World War II was just ending. During this time women were first allowed to participate in “men’s” bands due to the fact that men were at war and not at home to march. Suzanne feels that TBS has grown and changed a lot (all for the better) and she feels that TBS has kept with the ideals that were originally intended. One thing that she would like to see change is that she would like to see the Alumni get more involved in community bands after graduation. She has helped install 2 chapters and she and her husband have also founded 2 scholarships in the name of TBS. She feels that TBS has helped her by building her leadership skills and helping her learn to deal with different people from all over the country.
Julie Ryan Kuhns
National President 1981-1983
1) How did being National President effect the rest of your life? “I became more committed to music education especially instrumental.”
2) What were the major events that were taking place in the world? And how did the effect TBS?
“We were finding out that we were in a good economic position but getting ready for a fall. Growth because of good times. The band programs were beginning cut- backs and that started a trickle down effect.”
3) Compare and contrast TBS past and present? “Tau Beta Sigma has grown from a band club to a Sorority to a National Organization. It has become a big business. The young men and women have become a more polished and professional student, also more articulate.”
4) Has TBS changed for the best or worst? “Tau Beta Sigma has changed for the best. It is a very progressive and adaptable group which is a good credit.”
5) Has TBS stayed on tune to the vision and ideal that it was originated for? “Yes, definitely.”
6) What contributions did you give Tau Beta Sigma? “It was not really what I did but what the National Council did. We were very much a group. We got the OSMA medallion and pre-installation visitation off and running. We tried to help be helpful and educate.”
7) How has TBS promoted music in college Bands, Music Education, and increased Music Education? “We’re working on it becoming more conscience. We are attracting young men and women in high school and getting them to stay with it. Making sure we are represented at professional meetings.”
8) What qualities did TBS install in you? “Tau Beta Sigma helps you become more tolerant and understanding. I feel an important contribution.”
9) What inspired you to join TBS? “The Beta chapter had a very strong tradition and were very active. I also enjoyed the upperclassmen.”
10) How did you stay involved in TBS after you graduated? “In graduate school, I helped advise new chapters. I was Counselor then on the National Council.”
11) What inspired you to run for National Office? “I was obviously interested in TBS, but I was asked to consider running and I felt it would be a really great challenge.”
12) How has TBS helped you in your career? “Music has enhanced my career through contacts.”
Additional fact – “I did not start as Secretary, I started as Treasurer.”
Beta Eta Chapter
National President 1989-1991
1) How did being National President influence your life? “It helped my public speaking ability, I am a teacher. Ability to maintain poise under pressure. Helped me learn to deal with adults because teaching only allows me to deal mostly with children. Most of this experience came from clinics, concerts and music programs that I attended during travels. I Enjoyed getting to learn about different people and cultures while traveling through different states and districts.”
2) What are the differences in the major issues being discussed today and when you were President? “The ritual was being modified to be more inclusive yet we were trying to maintain the words and the heart of the ceremony. We were striving for unity between members of TBS. There were also problems with conflicts between both chapters.
3) What were the major world issues during your Presidency? “No major world issues. This worries me because there were no unifying issues. The 1980’s were a blah decade which did not have any issues to unify a generation. (ie Vietnam in 70’s , Civil Rights 60’s)”
4) Where would you like to see TBS 50 or 100 years from now? “I want to see growth in the number of strong chapters throughout the country. Reconciliation between KKPsi and TBS. Respect and kindness exhibited to others in districts and within each schools separate chapters.”
Patsy Drury Hejl
Beta Gamma Chapter
National President 1967-1969
1) How did being National President effect the rest of your life? “It effected my career in terms of being a Band Director; it put me in contact with composers and other music faculty.”
2) What were the major events that were taking place in the world? And how did they effect TBS?
“At the time of the 1969 convention, we had our 1st man walk on the moon! It was also during the time of the Vietnam Conflict; so many young men that were in band ended up in the military. There was a new emphasis on math and science in schools.”
3) Compare and contrast TBS past and present. “Tau Beta Sigma was still setting the foundations at the time of my service. I worked in formulating and establishing the OSMA Award and presented the first one, so it is near and dear to my heart. At that time the National Council presented stability. Electing band directors to the National Council was not the norm at the time. Not many National Officers came to my first National Convention, which surprised me. Stability has been there since then and continuity is there. Our 50th Anniversary is a nice time to reflect. Women have a lot more to deal with now. When I was a music student there were only 3 women in the school of music at the University of Texas. Now, that is the norm. Women going through college in the 50’s and 60’s paved the way.”
4) Has TBS changed for the best or worst? “Tau Beta Sigma is still growing; The first 25 years was building the foundation. Now, with the music Education Committee added, TBS is becoming more involved with the community, for example, Beta Gamma – They adopt a school and work with music students in various capacities.”
5) Has TBS stayed on tune to the vision and ideal that it was originated for? “Tau Beta Sigma has expanded the original bands in general and the music world, making it more complex.”
6) What contributions did you give Tau Beta Sigma? “First of all, the stability of how many years I was involved (14 years). Plus, the involvement in the OSMA Award creation. I hope that I have served as a role model to young women. Beta Gamma created a contribution by creating a Patsy Hejl Scholarship, given to one outstanding Freshman woman. They, the chapter, raises the money every year. I thought I helped break down barriers for women in the music field.”
7) How has TBS promoted music in college Bands, Music Education, and increased Music Education? “Chapters sponsoring competitions. Other community involvement, Private lessons and tutoring. You have to have TBS members come forward and defend Fine Arts curriculum in schools (at all levels).”
8) What qualities did TBS install in you? “Commitment to my Profession, strength and support. A Big Sister bond, I am extremely close to my Big Sister. I didn’t really know her beforehand. Helped insure success.”
9) What inspired you to join TBS? “It was a natural procession with my career; thought it was appropriate. I was friends with Dr. Revelli.”
10) How did you stay involved in TBS after you graduated? “I was elected as a National Officer beginning of my Senior year. I also, had a very active 14 years. Started to create a 1964 Alumni Band.”
11) What inspired you to run for National Office? “Interesting how it happened. I decided in the car trip by the time I got there.”
12) How has TBS helped you in your career? “Again, connections with composers helped both me and my husband’s careers. It is a network.”
Alpha Gamma Chapter
National President 1987-1989
1) How did being National President effect the rest of your life? “Shortened it! More aggressive and given myself more opportunities than just staying in a classroom. It was different because I was not sure of the acceptance I would or would not gain”. Carla Robinson was the first black member at her chapter at Kent. She was concerned with not being a music major. Carla pledged TBS in 1973. She served all 5 offices of the National Council and at chapter level. TBS has built upon her leadership skills and self-esteem.
2) What were the major events that were taking place in the world? And how did the effect TBS? “The economy was not stable and this affected membership. Membership was low during the 1987-89 biennium. Convention was held at Oklahoma State University. Twelve – Thirteen seats were unseated.”
3) Compare and contrast TBS past and present. “TBS is more racially and sexually diverse. Students are more likely to question the National Council now as opposed to then. More opportunities are present and the way members dressed were also different. Meetings were business and the ladies of TBS dressed in skirts and were very businesslike. This is very different from now.”
4) Has TBS changed for the best or worst? “Always for the better. An organization will not grow without changes. Everything must progress to survive.”
5) Has TBS stayed on tune to the vision and ideal that it was originated for? “Yes”
6) What contributions did you give Tau Beta Sigma? “Took a good look at the Council and made it possible for the Council to work together much better. There was much uneasiness among the Council. I reassessed what the members wanted and tried to keep focused on the ideals. I Created the first chapter survey.”
7) How has TBS promoted music in college Bands, Music Education, and increased Music Education? “Start with OSMA to promote music. Music is a growing field, the women themselves are behind their success in music and others to music. Enlisted a woman as commissioner for the new piece of music.”
8) What qualities did TBS install in you? “I became a better leader, learned to work cooperatively with others, became more receptive to other’s ideas, and became a better listener. I have built many friendships through TBS.”
9) Who or What inspired you to join TBS? “I was asked to join by my chapter. I felt honored when I was asked to join and I also liked the people of the Kent State Chapter.”
10) How did you stay involved in TBS after you graduated? ” I was very active during my school years and continued to be active after graduation. I became a District Counselor, National Officer and finally as a member of the Board of Trustees.”
11) Who or what inspired you to run for National Office? “I thought I could beat my opponent, and was prepared to be an officer. I had nudging from National Officers, Julie Kuhns and Becky Hartman.”
12) How has TBS helped you in your career? “The skills that I acquired as a member of TBS, I have gained the confidence to leave the classroom and better serve the school system as an officer in the school district.”
13) Who most inspired TBS in you? “Julie Kuhns”
National President 1977-1979
(Transcribed from video taped interview)
I went to school at Arizona State University from 1967 – 1972, and I took an extra year to student teach. That was the only thing that I had to do so I felt I would finish all my other classes and concentrate on my student teaching.
What inspired me to be in music?: I started playing the piano at 8 years old and the organ at age 13. I became the organist at my church at age 13 and it just started going from there. I did play in the band, the flute, in 6th grade, whatever age that is now.
What is your educational background?: I went to Arizona State and got my Bachelor’s of Arts in Education, in Physical Education and Music Education. My Master’s Degree up at Northern Arizona University in 1976 with a Master’s in Music Education, secondary education also.
What was my favorite memory as a member?: Well there were so many. There is just so many. I guess being initiated for the first time. My first memory of that was just so overwhelming. We had a little chapel on the campus and we had our First Degree there, it was a wonderful setting to have and we were a pretty good size group or class and it was very exciting.
When you mention your favorite memory is that on the Council or in the total or the whole life of the chapter. The committee answered the Council, too.
Another memory was in Houston in 1975. They threw all of us, The Council Members, in the fountain. It was a little fountain, kind of cute, but all of the lights were at the bottom of this pool and all of the wires were showing and we could have been a “fried” Council if anyone had touched those wires. It was actually kind of dangerous but a lot of fun too. They all had a good time throwing us in, they couldn’t throw me in because I was bigger than the others so I just went in.
For the complete transcription, download it from this link: NadineDorschler(1997).pdf