For the Love of Teaching

By Michael Chipman

Professor Herbert Henke: Retirement is no Swan Song to teaching.

Photo: Ramon Owens

WHEN HERBERT HENKE, PROFESSOR OF EURHYTHMICS, retired from Oberlin following fall semester, 1998, he quickly explained that this retirement is no swan song, no bidding adieu to a 45-year teaching career. Instead, he said, this career shift is simply one more addition to a long line of interesting changes.

There are those who teach for the love of a particular subject, and others, like Herbert Henke, who teach for the love of teaching. "I always found great satisfaction in teaching: children or adults, any subject matter," he said. "I love the variety that teaching offers, the search for new ways of imparting information and the development of skills. What will I miss about teaching full time? Ask me again in a year. I'm sure I'll miss it all, much of it with joy. But meanwhile, I have taught summer classes at Carnegie Mellon University for 14 years and will continue to do so. And I will be the artist-in-residence at the University of Alabama," he explains.

Henke first came to Oberlin as a student and earned a bachelor of music education degree in 1953, a bachelor of music degree in voice in 1954, and a master of music education degree in 1954. Following graduation, Henke spent two years as a teacher of vocal music in the Cleveland public schools, then two years in the Oberlin City Schools as a supervisor and teacher of vocal music, K&endash;12. He accepted his first collegiate-level teaching appointment at the University of Maryland in 1958, and returned to Oberlin in 1962 as a professor of music education at the Conservatory.

"I certainly never came to Oberlin thinking that I would spend most of my life here," he said. "That was a real surprise to me, but there's much I love about Oberlin. The faculty and administration have been fine colleagues. The students are stimulating and responsive, and the teaching environment, with an emphasis on performance, is wonderful. I was also a performer for a long time and did a lot of singing. All that combined to make Oberlin a very happy place all these years"



Henke's nontraditional, innovative approach to teaching is legendary. Joanne Erwin, director of the music education division recalls, "One of my favorite Herbert Henke stories is when, at the beginning of an Intro to Music Ed course, he randomly asked six students entering his classroom to remove their shoes. All of the shoes were different in shape and design. He asked the students what they noticed about the shoes and then arranged them so that he could explain theme and variations form. It's a brilliant educational tool &emdash; teaching from the known to the unknown &emdash; using physical objects with which students are familiar to explain unfamiliar abstract concepts."

Henke explained, "It's vital to arouse curiosity when you teach music. You must offer a bit of surprise, like completing a puzzle. In some ways I liken classes to

puzzles: I have information to impart, so I imagine how to share it in a way that will be interesting and fun for the students. I spend a lot of time working puzzles; a large part of my retirement will be devoted to puzzles.

I suppose teaching is an extension of that fascination with solving things."



Eurhythmics heavily influences Henke's teaching. One of the basic tenets of Dalcroze Eurhythmics is that music is a full-body experience, not just intellectual or emotional, that the rhythms and movements of music can be physically experienced and not just intellectually understood.

"I teach it to improve students' performing abilities, their sensitivity to phrasing, line and every aspect of musical expression. I'm very pleased when at the end of the course students say to me, 'I listen to music differently now.'"

His first exposure to Eurhythmics was as an undergraduate at Oberlin with Inda Howland, professor of Eurhythmics who had studied with Emile Jacques-Dalcroze (father of the Dalcroze Eurhythmics philosophy). "As a freshman student I was required to take Eurhythmics. I didn't think I was very good at it, but Inda was a wonderful teacher and I understood what she taught, and its purpose. I didn't take advanced Eurhythmics. When I returned to teach, Inda was still here, but I didn't focus on Eurhythmics."

When Howland retired, a replacement wasn't found. "It was like trying to replace God &emdash; you couldn't do it," said Henke. "In 1976, I realized what a shame it was that students weren't receiving Eurhythmics training, so I decided to use my sabbatical to study Eurhythmics at the Rotterdams Conservatorium in Holland.

Henke returned from Holland and began teaching Eurhythmics at Oberlin while continuing to study the technique himself. He earned a License in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1989, and has published numerous articles and taught Eurhythmics seminars around the world.


At a recent banquet held in his honor, Henke passed the baton in the form of a Eurhythmics drum to associate professor Stephen Moore, who joined the faculty in fall 1998. Henke said of Moore, "He's a fine musician and a strong Eurhythmics teacher."

Moore attended Henke's Eurhythmics classes this semester and described Henke as one of the most exceptional teachers he has ever seen. "His skill in teaching revolves around a tremendous amount of preparation and experience, and a real understanding of where students are and how they can be coaxed into improving themselves while loving the process. I have seen his students often use the encouragement he gave them and go even farther than he expected."

Moore earned his master of music in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where he was awarded the Shirr-Cliff Prize in music theory.

He holds a Ph.D. in music theory from Indiana University, where the title of his dissertation was "The Writings of Emile Jacques-Dalcroze: Toward a Theory for the Performance of Musical Rhythm." In 1992, Moore was granted the license in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from the Manhattan Dalcroze a Theory for the Performance of Musical Rhythm." In 1992, Moore was granted the license in Dalcroze Eurhythmics from the Manhattan Dalcroze Institute under Robert Abramson.

Moore is president of the Dalcroze Soceity of America. He co-authored with Julia Black, The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit Through Music published by Rudra Press in 1997.

Moore is a former faculty member at the University of Redlands and the University of Puget Sound. He continues to teach as instructor at the Dalcroze Summer Institute at the University of Washington. He has performed nationally and internationally with violinist Pavel Farkas.

A long-time proponent of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Moore will offer courses in both the fall and spring semesters, 1999-2000. "We are already taking one step in expanding offerings from one to two semesters of Eurhythmics. I would also like to create a winter term project where students travel to one of the Dalcroze centers around the education world to study."



The Herbert Henke Merit Scholarship in Music Education is an endowed, restricted scholarship fund established in 1996 by Elaine Amacker Bridges '59 of San Angelo, Texas with a gift of $25,000 in honor of Herbert Henke. Income from the fund is used to provide scholarship assistance to students who, in the opinion of the Conservatory dean and the music education faculty, demonstrates potential to excel in the fields of music.

(IMG: Book Cover)
The Rhythm Inside, Co-authored by Stephen Moore




(IMG: Stephen Moore)
Stephen Moore, associate professor of Aural Skills, joined the Conservatory Faculty in fall, 1998.

What They Say About Professor Henke:

Henke's teaching, published work and workshops in eurhythmics have reached an international audience; perhaps as importantly, his work at Oberlin served to influence areas around the world through his students and colleagues.

Penny Cruz '91 teaches high-school and middle-school choirs and music appreciation courses. "Mr. Henke made learning painless," she said. "Many things I do in my own classroom are because he made me think about them. I learned from him that music cannot just be learned from a lecture &emdash; it must be experienced. Through Eurhythmics, he taught that even though music is something you can't see, it can be accomplished and experienced visually in the body. Sometimes my students are apprehensive to express the music physically, but I start with small steps and they gradually buy into it. That's how Mr. Henke did it."

Haskell Thompson, professor of organ and director of keyboard studies, and an Oberlin graduate, believes that Henke's sense of connectedness to his students and to people in general is key to his success. "I'm not sure how he managed to always stay connected to the world around him &emdash; perhaps because he comes from a time when a sense of community and personal interaction were more important than they are today. He has been such a great colleague. If there was a faculty recital he would be there and would have something to say about it to you afterward. He was always a part of what was important in Oberlin."

"I just can't say enough good things about Herb," says Priscilla Smith, a former professor of music education who now teaches in Florida.

Smith first met Henke at Oberlin in 1973, when he was serving as chair of the music education division. "We team-taught several classes and he was wonderful: considerate of me and mindful of the students' needs without condescending to them. He was also a superb administrator. When I took over as chair of music education in 1981, the transition was easy because of his preparation and leadership. As a teacher, he was creative and musical, and he had long-ranging ideas about his own development as a musician and teacher. He is the epitome of someone who follows through on their own development but at the same time reaches out to people on state, national and international levels."

Kitty Jarjisian, a former colleague who now is director of the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, first met Henke in 1983 when she was appointed to the music education faculty at Oberlin. "Herb was wonderful: wise and calm, always innovative. It seems like every workshop or class he held was different and better than the last. If anyone could rest on his laurels, it was Herb, but he never did. He is a model for me. When I was at Oberlin he was the rock of the music ed department &emdash; utterly respected by everyone at the Conservatory. He was so interested in the material himself that he would have been bored if he had not used new ways to teach. He was always listening to unfamiliar music as possible material for teaching. In many ways Herbert Henke is music education at Oberlin. He leaves such a strong impression on students that when they come back, they always want to see him, more than any other teacher."


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