Fine and Performing Arts Department Chair
Jazz Band and Saxophone Quartet Director
A versatile musician with training in both Jazz and classical idioms, Ricky Burks
earned his B.S. in Music Education from the University of North Alabama in 1990 and
his M.A. from the University of North Alabama in 2000. Mr. Burks has utilized his
performing skills with a number of ensembles, including groups such as the Edd Jones
Orchestra, the Muscle Shoals Area Big Band, the Sammy Kaye Orchestra, Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Steel City Sound, and the Russ Morgan Orchestra. He was
also a founding member of the Night Life Saxophone Quartet, which has been featured
on National Public Radio. In addition, he has served as an adjudicator and clinician
throughout the Southeast. Mr. Burks directs the Jazz band and saxophone ensemble
at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama, where he has been employed
since 1990 as woodwind instructor and director of bands. Currently, Mr. Burks serves
as the Chairperson of the Fine and Performing Arts at Wallace State Community College.
Dr. Derek Molacek
Concert Band, Pep Band
Dr. Derek J. Molacek is a music educator currently based out of Cullman, Alabama and
serves on the faculty at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. As an educator,
he specializes in brass instruments with an emphasis on low-brass; trombone, euphonium,
Dr. Molacek earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Denver, and his Master’s
from the University of North Texas.During his time at Denver, he studied jazz trombone
with Darren Kramer, classical trombone with Dr. Joseph Martin, and jazz theory and
composition with Malcolm Lynn Baker, Dave Hanson, and Eric Gunnison. He also had
the opportunity to perform with Terrell Stafford in 2004.
While at North Texas, Dr. Molacek performed with the U-Tubes, UNT’s jazz trombone
ensemble, and outside of school has performed with Lou Marini of the Blues Brothers
Band. His teachers there would include, Tony Baker, Steve Wiest, and Paris Rutherford
for arranging and composition. He also taught lessons at Haltom High School from
2007-2008 in trombone and tuba. Several of his students won seats at Texas All-Regionals,
All-Area, and All-State.
From 2010 to 2013 Dr. Molacek was a trombonist with the United States Air Force Band
of the Golden West at Travis AFB, CA. As a member of the band, Dr. Molacek performed
with the concert band, jazz band, marching band, and brass quintet. Some performance
highlights during his time in the band included playing at the 2011 and 2012 Monterrey
Jazz Festivals with guest artists Carl Saunders, and Jeff Jarvis respectively, as
well as a performance in May of 2012 with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction
of Michael Tilson Thomas.
He completed his doctorate at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of
Nebraska in the spring of 2017 in Music Composition, Jazz emphasis. During his first
year, he studied jazz composition and arranging extensively with Dr. Eric Richards
and completed his studies under Thomas Larson.
In the fall of 2017, Dr. Molacek was appointed to the faculty of Iowa Western Community
College, where he taught applied Low-Brass Lessons and Music Appreciation. During
the spring semester of 2018 Dr. Molacek was appointed Interim Director of Instrumental
music, where he led concert band, jazz band, and pep band. In the fall of 2022, Dr.
Molacek joined the faculty of Wallace State Community College as a Music Instructor.
His duties there include teaching applied instrumental brass lessons, directing the
Symphonic Band, and the Pep Band.
Outside of the academic world, Derek regularly performed with and continues to write
for a number of Nebraska-based ensembles including Esencia Latina Band and Andy William
and the Nebraska All-Stars. Dr. Molacek has also performed with the Omaha Symphony,
Omaha Symphonic Winds, the Johnny Manhattan Orchestra, and the Marcus Lewis Big Band,
and was a former musician for Princess Cruise Lines.
Dr. Molacek’s teaching style focuses on development of tone, technique, and preparation
for the real-world application of the student discipline. “It is my overarching goal
that every brass student needs to be prepared for any musical situation that may come
his or her way, regardless of whether it is a classical symphony performance, jazz
band, or even a ska-punk band.” Included among his former students are Bryan Gozdowski,
a professional tuba player teaching and performing in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, trombonist
Andrew Brown who is a music educator in the Omaha Public Schools, and Karl Lyden,
who is the trombonist for Streetlight Manifesto and with David Bowie’s Lazarus musical.