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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Charles R. Hoffer
Interviewer: Mimi Johnson
February 17, 1987
Interviewee: Charles Hoffer
Interviewer: Mimi Johnson
February 4, 1987
This interview with Dr. Charles Hoffer is part of a series of interviews on the history
of the Department of Music of the University of Florida. Dr. Hoffer is internationally
recognized in the field of music education and has written numerous books on the subject,
including Teaching Music in the Elementary Classroom, Teaching Music in the Secondary
Schools, Understanding Music, Concise Introduction to Music Listening, Basic Musicianship
for Classroom Teachers, Foundations of Music Education, and Introduction to Music
Education. He has served on the board of the Council for Research in Music Education
and as president of the Music Educators National Conference. He is currently professor of
music at the University of Florida.
Charles Hoffer was born December 12, 1929, in Lansing, Michigan. His father
taught sociology at Michigan State University [MSU]. He has one sister, Clarice. When he
was a boy, he played baseball (he dreamed of playing for the Detroit Tigers) and took piano
and, later, clarinet lessons (with Leon Knaiz). He also sang in the school glee club when he
was in the fifth and sixth grades and, later, played in the school band and orchestra. During
the summers he worked for the horticulture department at MSU. Hoffer recounts childhood
friends and experiences--musical and otherwise. He particularly recalls his fifth grade
teacher, Miss Holschuh, who played recordings of classical music during quiet time, and
what a positive influence that was on his interest in music. He notes that he did not have
natural musical talent, that he had to work hard to achieve. His interest in music education
grew slowly but steadily.
Upon graduation in 1947 from East Lansing High School, Hoffer received a
scholarship to play in the band at MSU. He also took clarinet lessons with Keith Stein, who
encouraged him to major in music education. Stein was also influential in his decision to
earn a master's degree at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester,
New York (1952). After that he went back to MSU for his Ph.D. (1955), during which time
he also taught chorus and junior high general music part time in Holt and later Grand
With the Korean War going on, Hoffer decided to enlist in the Michigan National
Guard, where he played in the band. During their two-week training he conducted the
group, although he was only a private, because he had had the most musical experience.
His first college teaching position was at College for Teachers of SUNY-Buffalo.
After three years he moved on to direct the music program for the public school district in
St. Louis, Missouri. In 1966 he became associate professor of music education at Indiana
University, where he taught secondary methods, tests and measurements, research,
foundations, and music appreciation.
Seeing greater opportunity for growth in Florida, Hoffer came to the University of
Florida in 1984. He immediately went to work on the new Ph.D. program through the
College of Fine Arts, specialized methods courses and an introduction to music education
course for undergraduates, and moving the computer requirement from the College of
Education to the Department of Music. He feels that music education in Florida is "on the
upswing," noting the performing arts requirement for high school graduation, and he is
"guardedly optimistic" for its future.
Hoffer and his wife, Marjorie, have two children, Charles and Martha. They like to
travel (Peru, Ireland, Egypt), and he likes to grow flowers. He admires people who are
basically good, honest, and hard working. His wife works with the string program in
Alachua County, and they both are active at Grace Presbyterian Church.
J: I am here with Dr. Charles R. Hoffer on Wednesday morning, February 4,
1987, in his office at the music building at the University of Florida. My name
is Mimi Johnson. We are doing this as a project for the Seminar in Oral
History. First, Dr. Hoffer, will you begin by telling us your full name?
H: Charles Russell Hoffer.
J: What we thought we would do first of all is to get in-depth biographical
information on you and then go back and ask professional questions later.
Were you named after your father?
H: Right. Exactly. He tended to go by the name Russell. In his family there
were four boys that went by their middle names, so he was always known by
his middle name. When I came along it was the same name, and I was
known by my first name. So I really am a junior, but I was never called one.
J: Did they ever give you a nickname?
H: Well, some of my friends did, some of which cannot be put on tape. But my
family always called me Charles, and that just sort of stayed.
J: Well, I know you were born December 12 , but where?
H: In Lansing, Michigan. My folks lived in East Lansing, but the hospital was in
J: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
H: I had one sister named Clarice, who is two and a half years younger. She
also majored in music at Michigan State and got her master's at [George]
Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tennessee. She got married and
moved to Los Angeles and taught in schools for a while and had a family.
She is now teaching, but not music. She is teaching for the juvenile authority
in Los Angeles County--kids who are incarcerated, in juvenile hall.
J: So it is just you and your sister.
J: Now, can you give us just a little bit of background about your parents? How
did it happen that you were born in Lansing?
H: Well, let me back up to my grandparents. My mother is from southern
Minnesota, a community which was mostly German. Her father was the only
Scandinavian in the area. I remember him somewhat; he died when I was
seven. His parents had come over from Norway, and he was born in Green
Bay, Wisconsin, after they were here. Their name was Holm, and everybody
just kept calling them Holmes I guess because they had heard of Sherlock
Holmes. But who knows? So finally he just changed his name to Holmes,
which they did not need to go to court or anything to do that in those days.
He was quite interested in music and did things like--they were fairly well-off--
buy a piano. My mother's older sister studied piano. There was almost
nobody teaching in this little farm community, and it was not easy to drive to
get lessons in those days. For my mother he ordered a violin from Lyon and
Healy for three hundred and some dollars. Of course, he never saw it or had
any advice on it, but Lyon and Healy in Chicago sent him this violin. That is
the one that [my wife] Marjorie is playing on today. When we had it
appraised last the violin is worth more than $10,000! Those things happen.
But she did not do a lot with it because it was very hard to get lessons. She
had to take a train to a little town called Waterville [Minnesota] to take some
violin lessons, but she never really had a chance because there was nobody
to teach her. Then my grandfather also bought one of these pump treadle
organs, so they had a piano and an organ. He taught himself to chord and
things like that. So I think he was interested in that sort of thing.
My parents met at the University of Minnesota while my father was getting his
doctorate in sociology; my mother majored in nursing. One summer they
closed the nursing residence and she was moved to a house, and the
landlady told my mother, "There is no one else here in the house except one
middle-aged man, and he never bothers anybody." My folks were a little
older when they got married. I think Dad had just turned thirty-three and my
mother was twenty-seven. I did not come along for another five years. So
my parents were older.
My father grew up in northern Indiana on a farm. His family really did not
have a lot of money. He did not know anything at all about music.
J: What kind of farm?
H: In northern Indiana when you get up towards Chicago there is sort of muck
land and kind of sand from the lake [Lake Michigan], so he grew onions and
mint and scratched out a living. It was not very easy. Southern Minnesota
[where my grandparents lived] had nice corn and dairy cattle. Then Dad got
a job in East Lansing, and they were married after he got the job. He went to
East Lansing, to Michigan State [University], in the summer of 1925 to teach.
He taught there until 1976. He taught there over fifty years!
J: What did he teach?
H: Sociology. He was the first one in his family to go to college, and that was
true of my mother's family, too. I think he had the feeling that there was
something good and worthwhile about music, and he wanted his children to
have this experience, even though he did not know a lot about it. My mother
knew a little bit, but I think she had the same feeling, an aspiration that I think
everybody can understand. So they were very anxious that we have music
lessons and do things in music. They bought a piano, and my sister and I
took piano, but I was not very good at it.
J: How old were you when they bought the piano?
H: Nine. My sister has that piano now. It is a nice one, sort of an upright type,
but it looked more like a spinet case. It had around forty-two-inch strings.
J: Dr. Hoffer, let us go back as far as you can remember. Can you tell us about
some of the very earliest memories that you have?
H: I remember that we lived on a street that in those days was called Haslett. It
was later changed to Collingwood Drive. (I think they thought the new name
was classier.) We were renting a house on that street when I was very small.
My sister was born in that house. I remember her being in a bassinet when I
was about two and a half. I remember the day we moved, which was just a
few months after she was born. I was not three, and I wanted to go out the
front door. The moving van was there, even though they had to go just sort
of across the street. My folks had watched this house being built across the
street. This was in 1932, and there were not all that many houses. East
Lansing was a very small town in those days. When it was done they really
never thought that they would buy it. My parents went over [to look at it], and
my mother liked it and went home and told my dad, "I think another couple is
interested in buying it." He said, "Why did you not buy the house?" So he
came home at noon, and they went over and looked and decided to buy it. In
those days I think it was like $8,700 for a nice brick home.
J: So you moved there when you were about two and a half?
H: Two and a half or three.
J: How long did you stay there?
H: My folks lived in that house until after my dad died in 1977. We had to empty
the house then. You see, my sister lives in California and I was down in
Indiana, and we did not have any close relatives there. They lived there
about forty-five years, I think.
J: Did your parents come from large families or small families?
H: Well, my mother had just the one sister. She had two brothers born, but her
mother was very small, and by the time they got the boys out they just could
not make it. She was just too small and they were too big. If they had
performed Cesarean sections in those days they would have done them, but
they were just hearing about them then. My father had three brothers.
J: When you were growing up did you ever like things like sports or rock music
or the things that most [teenagers enjoy]?
H: I was born in 1929. You probably looked that up.
J: No, I did not, but I figured it out just now.
H: We did not have rock music. Rock music did not come along until the late
1950s. Yes, I was very big on sports. I thought I wanted to be a baseball
player [and play for] my beloved Detroit Tigers. That is really what was part
of the problem with piano. It was very hard to sit there and practice when I
thought I could be out there playing ball. I was really into baseball much
more than any other sport. In those days tennis was not a very well-known
sport. I knew it was around, but I never played. There was no place to play,
unlike today. There are so many chances [to participate in different sports].
My son plays a lot of tennis.
J: Did you win any trophies?
H: No. Of course, baseball is a team effort. We did in our junior year win our
league championship. It was called Twin Valley League among the high
schools of our size in Michigan. That was kind of a nice thing. We played for
a goofy coach who did not really know a lot about baseball. He was the
football coach, also. That is what he knew. We had pretty much the same
team the senior year. We did not hit the breaks, and we did not win the
senior year. Yet I thought we had the better team. We had the breaks the
junior year, I guess.
J: I was wondering, since you are in music education: Did you like school? Did
you like that environment when you grew up?
H: At the time I did not think I did, but I guess compared to most kids I did. You
know, I did not get up each morning and say, "Gee, I am going to school" and
get all excited. But I think compared to most kids I probably did not mind it.
There were certain courses that I found a real drag.
J: Like what?
H: Math. Seventh and eighth grades were the dullest parts, because I think the
teaching was less imaginative. We were doing things like diagramming
sentences in English, and in math we were figuring out the volumes of cones
and cylinders. It was stuff that even today I think I would find boring. I think
students were a little more action oriented in those days. So I guess on
average I probably did not mind school at all.
J: Did you go to kindergarten?
H: Yes--half days.
J: Tell us about some of your experiences in school or outside of school, some
of the things that stand out in your mind when you were young.
H: Some of them have no significance whatsoever. We had a kindergarten
teacher who I think basically did not like kids. You know, in those days,
before the Second World War (it is hard to imagine this now), almost all the
[female] teachers were unmarried. The idea was that a married lady did not
need a job. We were just coming out of the Depression. If a woman got
married she usually lost her teaching position, and a lot of women had to
think, Do I want to get married? or Do I want to give up teaching? It really
was a choice. Of course, that is almost unthinkable today. I think she was
waiting [to marry], although I do not know if she had anybody in mind.
At any rate, I am not sure she liked the kids. She used to go in the rest room
off the kindergarten room and read the paper. She would just lock the door
and leave the kids playing around. One time my mother went to school for
some reason (I do not know what; we lived only a block and a half away),
and she looked in the room and could not find the teacher. The teacher was
kind of a character. Some of the kids had some real problems because she
would be in there with the door locked. Well, one day she was reading us a
story, and she said, "Now, I do not want to hear a peep out of you." So I
went [in a high, squeaky voice], "Peep." I got sent to the hall. Another little
boy was out from the first grade room across the hall. He was kind of a
troublemaker. He took a drink of water and squirted me. His teacher came
out and gave him some swats, and I was thrilled to death! I went home and
told my mother, and she said, "Charles, what were you doing in the hall?"
She said my face went flush. I got caught!
We had a music teacher. I suppose East Lansing, being a university
community, thought of itself as having a relatively good school system. I
guess, in comparison to other schools, that might be true, thinking back on it
now. We had a music specialist. Her name was Miss Weisinger. My most
vivid memory of her is that she tried to teach [us to] sightsing using moveable
do. We spent a lot of time doing that out of the old green books called The
Music Hour. If you look at them today they look like death. They were awful.
And the songs were awful! She always mouthed the words at us, and I just
remember teeth and mouth. [Today] I always tell students, "Do not mouth
J: What grade was this?
H: Oh, through elementary. She had a glee club of kids. She would walk
around the classroom--it was fifth and sixth grade rooms we were singing in--
and if you were singing well she would tap you and say, "I think you should
be in the glee club." She did not have them come to an audition. One day
she walked by me--I knew I could sing the stuff--and she said, "I would really
like to have you in the glee club." So we just sort of automatically went. It
was not a case where you thought about it a lot. We had little red hooded
things that we put on and sang. I remember we got to sing over at the
university radio station, WKAR, which, of course, was [an] AM [station]. That
was all there was. That was a "big deal," because there was no television.
J: What grade were you in?
H: Fifth and sixth. I think she must have been very German, because we sang
"Silent Night," one verse in German and one verse in English. "Stille Nacht,
heilige Nacht,..." I do not remember the whole thing in German now, but
we practiced this, and we thought that was a big deal, too. So I do remember
being in this glee club. I do not know if it did a lot for my interest [in music],
but I was aware that I could sing it right, and many of the kids could not.
I got started on clarinet when my folks gave me one for Christmas, an old,
silver Pan American. It was not much [of an instrument]. This was about the
fifth grade. Later I got a wood clarinet and got off the metal one, because
that was not very good. They had some lessons at school, but I did not
advance very much because it was just kind of after school. It really was not
a regular part of the program in those days. In seventh grade I started taking
from a man named Leon Knaiz, who was very, very Jewish. He was from
Chicago, and he was studying at Michigan State. He had enormous
enthusiasm, and my mother was thrilled to death. I would get on my bicycle
and ride off to lessons whistling, and I would come home that way. I very
much admired him. He had been all-city football player at Lane Tech in
Chicago, and he played clarinet. He just had a way [with students].
Unfortunately he was drafted into the army in 1942 when the war came, so I
only had about a year of study with him. But he was very good at motivating
kids. Later I ran into him one time on tour--he played with the Ballet Russe--
in East Lansing, and I saw him one other time. I think later he got out of
professional playing. Just to finish Knaiz, he left New York with the ballet
company in November and returned in May.
J: On tour?
H: Can you imagine [being gone for] seven months and not even going home for
J: How horrible!
H: He made a fair amount of money. I understand he got out of the ballet
orchestra and went into hi-fi and that sort of thing. I knew his brother, Abe
Knaiz, who was teaching horn for a while. He was first horn with the
Pittsburgh Symphony in the [Fritz] Reiner days. Then he went on to Indiana
[University, where] he was teaching horn. And then I think he went on with
the Montreal Symphony.
J: Where is his brother now?
H: I think he ended up living in the New York area. I really do not know what
happened to Leon now. I think that he played professionally for a while.
Even though he made money--seven months on the road--you have to like
that kind of thing.
J: You have to like living out of a suitcase.
H: I thought he really did a lot [for me]. Of course, when the war came it was
really hard to find a good teacher. I really did not have a teacher for a while.
I did not think I would go into music. I was really not at all interested in
J: What were your favorite subjects?
H: My dad, being a sociologist, [had a significant influence on me, so] I think [my
favorite subjects probably were] the social sciences. It depends on what
grade you are asking about. In seventh grade my favorite subject was shop,
at least for the first semester. I thought that was neat. Then it got to be a
little boring. But we did some things. It was kind of action oriented. I think I
always found the social studies and history very easy, and I enjoyed them. I
enjoyed the music. We did not have any academic [music] classes. I
enrolled for band.
J: When did you enroll for band? You were in the glee club in fifth and sixth
H: That was just a before-school thing. In seventh grade I was in the general
music classes, and we had a very good teacher for those, as I think back on
it, a lady named Miss Margaret Dooley. She just had "life." But after about
six weeks for some reason we were all put in instrumental classes, and we
could not be in general music anymore. That is too bad, but that is typical.
So I stayed in band and orchestra. We had a woman teaching orchestra,
too, a very sweet lady named Frances Ayres. She was a violinist, and she
had a pretty good orchestra there at East Lansing, as school orchestras go.
Then she married some television executive and moved to New York [City].
The next guy we had was a "hot shot" bandman out of the [William D.] Revelli
mold at the University of Michigan, who promptly decided there would be no
orchestra. I had enrolled for orchestra in ninth grade, and the first day he
said, "Everybody is going into band." He loved to rap his baton on the tops of
kids' heads. We worked very hard on [appearance]. When he stepped on
the podium you snapped your clarinet up. Then when he put his hands up
you would put it up to your mouth. It was just like the military. My mother
went to a concert, and she said [afterward]: "I do not understand why he is
doing that. The Philadelphia Orchestra was just over at the auditorium at the
university [Michigan State University], and they do not do that." It was really
miserable. I finally decided [to drop out]. I talked to my folks and said: "I
would really like to drop out. I will just take something else to the end of the
semester." My folks were not the kind that would let you do that.
J: It was the end of the semester in ninth grade?
H: Yes. So my mother had to go over and see this band director, whose name I
should not mention. She went over to see him, and she was very turned off.
He told her, "Well, if Charles drops out of band he will never do anything in
music again." All of us have had experiences where we have been told we
will not do anything. Anyway, I did. [Other] kids were dropping out of band,
and it was getting worse. At the end of the year he went in to see the new
man who was coming in as superintendent and made some demands on him.
"If I do not get this and this and this, I have this prospective job in California,
and I just might take it." The superintendent said, "I think maybe you should
take that job."
So they got another band director who was terrifically interesting. He was
very good with kids, although he was not a great musician. He was very
good at recruiting, and he kept the interest going. I waited a whole semester
before I rejoined band, because I just wanted to look the situation over. I
think when he started out that year, my sophomore year, he had twenty-six in
the band, and sixteen were trumpets. By the end of the year I think it was up
to fifty. He had some clarinets, and the band got a lot better. He also started
J: What is his name?
H: His name was Forest Rinehart.
I am receiving a distinguished alumnus award from Michigan State this year,
the first weekend in May. They are giving it at a band concert, and then the
next day I am going to present a lecture in which I am going to talk a little bit
about this. I am going to call part of the lecture "Perspectives." In a sense
he started that orchestra up again [from scratch]. It had been shattered;
there was almost nothing left. He had four first violins, for example, including
sister. We were not playing great literature. We did play a Mozart piece; I
remember that. But we played [Albert W.] Ketelbey's In a Persian Market.
That is one of the corniest pieces I have ever heard. [laughter]
Nevertheless, even though it struggled, and you would listen to it and say,
"Gee, that is not very good," a lot of good kids came out of it, including
several university music teachers. Later it got better and better, and five or
ten years later he had one of the best orchestras in the state. Mr. Rinehart
had left East Lansing by then, but other people had come along and
developed it. When you looked at what he did, say from a fifteen- or now
thirty-year perspective, what he accomplished was tremendous. At the time
it did not seem like much. I think it is really fun to look back and see what a
little thing he started and what that meant for the whole music education
scene in that area, for that particular school, and subsequently for schools in
the neighboring districts.
J: So he was there the whole time you were in high school?
H: The last three years, and then a couple of more years after I went on to
college. There was some sort of fracas, and a whole bunch of teachers left.
He went to a principalship in northern Michigan. I assume he is no longer
living. I do not know. I have thought a lot of him. He was very good for the
kids. He was also our baseball coach during my sophomore year; he had
been a very good baseball player in high school. When he was in college he
had played for Michigan State.
J: Your two favorite things: band and baseball.
H: Yes. But he gave up the baseball coaching because being the band director
was just a tremendous amount of work. So my last two years he did not
coach the team. But he really taught us a lot about baseball. He was very
good at it. While I was not on the starting team my sophomore year, I was
the last two years. He did a lot [for me]; he was very good for me when I was
fifteen. I would not say he was a great musician, as I think back on it now,
but what he did for music education was something, and what he did for me
was a lot, too. I hope in some way he realized that. It was not only me, it
was all the rest of the kids, too. He really did a lot. He had a little trouble, as
I recall, when we got to be seniors. A couple of the kids got "senioritis." I
was not one of them, but a couple of them did. As able as he was, he had
some behavior problems with them, and a couple of them dropped out [of
band]. I always think that is really strange. He faced the typical things [from
My friend, John Shawman, was a fun guy, but if his head had not been
screwed on he would have lost it! One morning we played an assembly, and
he left his music in the cafeteria. The cafeteria lady locked it in her office that
night. When we went to the concert that night, he had no music--the whole
first trumpet folder was missing. He tried to play it from memory [with only
partial success]. Nobody could find his music.
I can talk about those things in East Lansing because that is where these
things happened. They would be of little interest any other place. I have sort
of thought in my mind that I will at least make that part of the talk [at Michigan
One time John wanted to run and meet a girl after class, so he put his
trumpet in my friend Harold's locker. For days he was coming to band [with
the excuse]: "Gee, Mr. Rinehart. I have lost my horn." Finally my friend said
one day, "John, will you get your trumpet out of my locker?" "Is that where it
is?" John shouted. The stories could go on for hours like this. He is still a
little like that. I see him very rarely now. I did see him a few years ago. He
lives in the Atlanta area.
J: What is his name?
H: John Shawman. He does a placement service for food workers. If you need
a cook he will get you one. He makes a living, but not much of a living [as far
as I can tell].
J: Did you ever do anything like that when you were growing up?
H: No, not too much. I was born serious. I had a sense of humor. If people
mention that I have a sense of humor my wife says, "I know they know you."
She remembers the first time we met at Eastman. I was so serious and so
businesslike. Then she got to know me. But I was very conscientious, and I
worried a lot.
[Let me tell you about] my biggest fear in eighth grade. I got in the band
because they were a little short of clarinets, even as an eighth grader. The
junior high was in the same building [as the high school]: the junior high,
seventh and eighth grade, was in one wing, and the high school was in the
other. The teacher said, "I need clarinets," so I got put in band, even though
I could only rehearse a little time. I also got to march with them. I really
could not march and play. I would just sort of pretend that I was playing and
look around to make sure I was in the right spot. That is not so easy to do,
especially marching through the cold winds of Michigan in October and
November. We had pep rallies, and we always had to wear our uniforms
every time the band played. My fear was that I would show up in a uniform
and we would not have a pep rally, that I would have gotten the day wrong. I
never did, but I really worried about that. I did not make that mistake. I did
other dumb things.
H: I think worrying that much is a dumb thing. I did not pull the kinds of things
John did. In fact, I think John Shawman and I were friends because we were
so different. I think he was good for me and I was good for him. I did most
things right, and it made his mother feel better [knowing that he was with me].
His father had abandoned them [when John was young], and she was trying
to raise him as a single parent. She was a pianist and played for the dance
school. [That is a] hard way to bring up a youngster. I think I did dumb
things by just being rigid and the like. [For example,] I always thought you
never should wrap the gifts for Christmas for the family until the night before
Christmas. It was just a ritual. And we opened them on Christmas morning;
we did not open one thing ahead [of that time]. I was very rigid about things
like that. Sometimes kids do that.
J: Did it ever bother you having your birthday so close to Christmas?
H: No, I think it was just fine. It is thirteen days [before Christmas]. We did not
have a party every year. My folks did not believe in that. But I remember
having one when I was seven and one when I was eleven. They were rather
big parties. The rest of my birthdays we went to a show or I had two friends
over for dinner or something like that. But, no, I do not think that bothered
me. I did not think much about it. I do know people who were born
December 27. I think as a kid it bothers them, but I do not think it bothers
them as an adult.
J: When was your sister born?
H: April 28, so she did not have that problem at all. We both entered
kindergarten as four year olds. See, they did not have strict rules like today.
Today there are very strict about it. [You have to be born by] September 1 or
September 30 [to enter kindergarten today]. It just depends on where you
J: Then did you just keep going?
J: How old were you when you graduated from high school?
J: That is young.
H: My sister was always big for her age. It was during the Depression, and
there were not very many kids in school, so they did not mind. My mother
talked to the kindergarten teacher. I think it was the same one [I had had].
My sister went down, and they said: "Let us see how she gets along. If it is
all right we will let her go on." My sister, who was four, was soon mothering
the other kids, so she just kept on. She was not eighteen until her freshman
year in college in April. She always did well and seemed very mature. Today
they would not let you do that. But in those days nobody really cared [about
when your birthday was]. I just kept on, too, so I was seventeen [when I
graduated from high school].
J: Was it hard for you?
H: I never thought of it. Most of my friends were older. I guess that way I
J: What were the names of your schools?
H: My elementary school was Liberty Hyde Bailey. He had been a famous
botanist at Michigan State, which in those days [was called] Michigan
Agricultural College. Later [the name was changed to] Michigan State
College and still later to Michigan State University. He had been quite
recognized for his work there. There is a street named Bailey, and it was all
for him. East Lansing High School was the other [school]. There were really
only two [schools]. The high school had the seventh and eighth grades in the
same building, as I said. The younger students were stuck down in the one
wing. It was not a very big school. There were only ninety-six or so in my
graduating class. It just was not a big community [when I lived there]. It has
gotten a lot bigger [in recent years].
J: Did you always know that you were going to go to college?
H: Yes, I think I always expected I would. I think I just always assumed I would
go to college. It was never really a decision. I just thought I would go to
Michigan State, because I could live at home and save money. That seemed
important. I was pretty rigid about that, too. I just decided I would go to
J: Tell us about that. You just applied?
H: Yes. I do not have much memory of that. I just filled out some forms. I got a
scholarship for my first year; I was given tuition from the American Legion. It
was not a big deal, but they had some people come over, and they
interviewed about four of us who had applied. They gave one [scholarship] to
a senior from East Lansing High for one year. It was sort of a "good boy" or
"good girl" award. All of your school activities and your grades and that kind
of stuff [were taken into consideration]. I do not recall the other kids who
applied. But I got it, and I was really thrilled, because it would have been
extremely difficult for my parents to put me through college on my father's
faculty salary, which was not all that great. So I thought that was really neat.
It amounted to $141 a year, which was what tuition was for a full-time
student [in 1947].
Then the next two years I had a band scholarship, and for that I had to switch
over from clarinet to bass clarinet, because they really needed a bass clarinet
in the band. At the end of my junior year I was getting bored to tears with
band, and I just dropped out of band and gave up my $141. It was taking a
lot of time, too, because marching season takes up a lot of time.
J: Were you taking clarinet lessons during this time?
H: Well, Mr. Knaiz went into the air force. I think he joined the air force; I am not
sure. But they did not have anybody for a while. Then I took from a lady who
was more of a pianist [than a clarinetist], although she played both. We just
did not hit it off real well. There was not any real problem, but I did not get
much better. Then finally in my junior year the war was over, and a fellow
came back who was a clarinet teacher. He was a pretty inspiring guy. He
taught at the University of Wyoming [for many years].
J: What is his name?
H: Ralph Strouf. He played first chair in the Michigan State band. In my senior
year I was finally was able to study with Keith Stein, who was the teacher at
Michigan State, and I improved enormously under him. He was a great
teacher and a great person. I just worshipped the ground that he walked on.
Keith had played in the Chicago Symphony [Orchestra] for a couple of years
and decided that he wanted to teach. He was a really easy-going sort of
fellow. He had an unusual knack of working on fundamentals. All of his
students had a good tone quality. You can walk up to this piano [and play a
key] and at least get a sound. You are getting something, although it may
not sound like much. On a clarinet you have to make your sound. It is kind
of like the cloth you make the shirt out of. If you have bad cloth it is not going
to be a nice shirt. Anyway, he really worked on breath support and basic
things. He also concentrated on musical interpretation. It was musical when
it was done.
J: This is your senior year?
H: Yes, and I got my first chair back in the band. We worked on a piece by Carl
Maria von Weber called Concertino. Every clarinetist plays it. It is a short
composition that is essentially a theme and variation. So I entered the
contest in Michigan and got a first division. There was not just one winner [in
these contests like there is in the Music Teachers National Association
(MTNA) competitions]. That was really a big day. I went down one day in
April and played at the University of Michigan. I played for the clarinet
professor at the University of Michigan, William Stubbins. I remember I had a
baseball game that afternoon, so I played [my solo] early in the morning and
hurried back from Ann Arbor [for the ball game in the afternoon]. We played
with snowflakes still coming down. It was about April 18, and it was wet and
cold. I did not know how I did until I got home. My sister accompanied me--
she played piano and violin--and she told me [when I got home from the ball
game]. So that was really a big thrill. It was not as big a deal as I thought it
was at the time. I worked very hard on the piece, and I played it fairly well.
To get a first division in high school meant something.
J: I have done some adjudication for piano contests, too.
H: [In MTNA competitions] if you pass a certain level you go on to the state
contest, and there will be only one winner in each class. That is not the way
this was. There were other people who played very well. So I went to
college and studied with him [Keith Stein] my freshman year [at Michigan
As evidence of what a fine man he was, he accepted more students than he
was required to take. Enrollments were starting to go up by then because
the war was over. Michigan State before the war was 6,500 students, and
when I went to college in 1947 it was 15,000 students. That is a lot larger
than the University of Florida was in those days. You did not live here then.
How long have your folks lived here?
J: Forty years.
H: So they must have come after the war. I understand Gainesville was a little
town. You said your house was at the edge of town, where you live now?
J: Yes. When the music department was first started there were only three
H: In 1950 Michigan State did not have a School of Music, but [the University of]
Michigan had had one since the 1920s. Things are relatively new here.
Anyway, Keith Stein had a chance to hire a wonderful old man who played
[clarinet] in the Chicago [Lyric] Opera way back. His name was Joseph
Siniscalchi. He was born in the Naples [Italy] area, and he spoke with a
southern Italian accent. I did not realize there were different [Italian] accents.
Italians do not say the last vowels of words. We always think Italians say the
last vowels. He would say, "Play your sole today" instead of solo. He never
would put the last vowels on. Apparently in the south of Italy, at least around
Naples, they did not do that. It was different. It did not sound like what we
think of as a usual Italian accent. He was an interesting man.
East Lansing was pretty sheltered. There were no blacks in the high school,
and I am not even sure there was an Italian. It was very provincial in some
ways. "Mr. Sini," as we called him, had retired, so what he did was come on
the train from Chicago. They did not fly so much in those days. He came up
two and a half days or three days a week. Keith Stein turned all his best
students over to Joe Siniscalchi. Can you imagine a teacher doing this?
J: No. That takes humility.
G: That is why I think he was a great man. Joe taught [at Michigan State] for
two years. His health was not very good, so he could not keep it up. My
sophomore and junior years Keith [Stein] was teaching other students, and
all of the better players were studying with Joe Siniscalchi. Now, Joe was
great on the technique. He really worked on finger action. For certain things
like that he was extremely good. So he was a very good balance for Keith
[who emphasized tone]. When Joe could not continue I went back and
studied with Keith Stein my senior year. I played a recital, which music ed.
students did not have to do. But I wanted to. I did the Brahms Sonata No. 2
in Eb major and a piece by Paul Jeanjean, a French composer. I do not
know if he composed anything except for winds: clarinet, saxophone, and
things like that. I played one other piece, but I have forgotten what it was. It
was just a short thing.
J: Did your sister play for you?
H: No. A fellow who had played in the orchestra at East Lansing High School,
Edward Thaden, really turned out to be a piano major [at Michigan State].
Piano had always been his major area, although he played violin in the
orchestra. He now teaches piano at the University of Missouri. His father
was in the sociology department with my father, and he was a grade behind
me in school. He accompanied me. The Brahms Sonata has a lot of large
chords. The piano part is harder than the clarinet part. Clarinetists love
playing that piece. You can sit there going, "duh dee," and the piano is really
working away. And you got to use music [when playing sonatas; they did not
have to be memorized]. I remember that was the time I walked off the
stage--there is a repeat in third movement (it is a four-movement sonata)--
and asked Edward, "Did I take the repeat?" I really could not remember!
[laughter] I always remember that experience. I think you play a lot of things
on motor ability.
J: Do you ever get nervous for recitals?
H: Oh, yes.
J: I am glad. The most famous of the famous sometimes get nervous.
H: Vladimir Horowitz, for example. I understand his manager almost had to
push him on stage. When he got out there he would feel good about it. But I
understand [this happens] every time. This guy is an eminent artist. He has
been at it years and years, and he still gets nervous. I have gotten better
about it. What helped me most was [something that] somebody suggested
once: when you are bowing beforehand kind of mutter under your breath, "To
hell with you. To hell with you." I think some of my problem was I was too
conscientious. I was always trying to play the perfect performance. If you try
to do that you are probably going to get too self-conscious and hang yourself
up. I think if you go out and just think, I am going to do the best I can, you
will play better. I found that when I took a little bit of the tension away and did
not really try to make it the perfect, ultimate, all-time greatest [performance, I
played much better]. I do not know how you feel when you play. Maybe you
think, I am going to do the greatest I have ever done. This is going to be
perfect, better than Vladimir Horowitz ever did. [If you think that,] then any
little thing begins to bother you.
J: That is right. It becomes monumental.
H: Sometimes you feel things do not sound good when they really do. I am not
sure that the performers themselves have the most accurate feeling about
how things are going. If you forget [something], of course, you know. I think
maybe if you just say: Nuts. I am going to do what I can. I am going to enjoy
this. That suggestion ["to hell with you"] probably did more than any other. It
just took a little of that pressure off.
As I got more experienced, of course, the better I became. I noticed when
you were going to audition for the concerto competition that Boaz [Sharon,
UF professor of music] had you play the night before [at Foundations of
Music Education class]. I think that is really good. [You become much more
confident after playing a piece] the fifth or sixth time in public. I have heard
performers say the first time they play a work in public, "Did I practice this?"
[When I took piano lessons when I was a boy] we had recitals about once or
twice a year at our teacher's house, and we always got ice cream and cake
afterwards. I do not think I played very well on piano, but I remember there
were really two pieces I liked. One was In the Hall of the Mountain King by
[Edvard] Grieg, because I could really beat with the left hand. The other one
was "God Bless America." I really wanted to play that. It was about 1939 or
1940, and "God Bless America" was an extremely popular song in those
days. Kate Smith was a big radio personality, and she was singing this a lot.
I wanted to play "God Bless America," so Mrs. Trout said, "Go get the music,
and we will do that." You used to go down to a drugstore, and there were
racks of music for sale. So I bought "God Bless America." It probably cost
twenty-five cents. It had the vocal line and then the piano part, so you could
do it either as piano solo or with a singer. It was the only way it came, I
We went through the vocal line. She showed me [what to do], and I got that
down. She said, "That is fine. Put it away now." I wanted to play the whole
thing, which was much more advanced than what I should have been trying.
I said: "No, no. I want to try it." At least she had enough imagination to say
okay. I will tell you, that week I practiced! I did not have the whole song
correct, but I had a lot [of it ready at my next lesson], and she just about fell
off the bench. She was astounded at what I could do when I wanted to. I
had a lot of it pretty close to right. I did at least the whole first page with
almost everything there, and she was nearly in a state of shock. I am sure
she thought I would give up, but I was determined to play that piece as
written. There were a lot of chords that were not simple; it was not simplified
for kids. So it always stuck with me what kids can do when they really want
to. I really wanted to play that piece for some reason.
Now, when I started clarinet my folks said, "You do not have to study piano
anymore." There were only so many hours [in a day], and that was probably
a wise decision. Of course, now I wish I had kept up with piano. Hindsight is
J: Did you practice a lot?
H: No. I did not have a lot of hard scenes about that [with my parents]. I had to
do it a half an hour a day, and I guess I did. I have forgotten the materialswe
had for kids. I played out of some books by a man named Bernard Wagness.
He had a lot of materials in those days. You probably have heard of him. I
remember he made up little exercises like "Nose Dives," where you had to go
"ding" and hit notes. This all seemed inordinately silly to me. I never got with
those kinds of things. And we had some little piece called "Going Home,"
which is a theme [from Dvorak's New World Symphony]. [Most of the pieces
were] things just pretty much with your thumbs around middle C. I do not
think I did very well. I did not like counting, as I remember.
J: Was anything in music ever hard for you?
H: Yes. I do not think I did very well on piano. The thing I did not do well in
clarinet was count. I remember Knaiz's writing on my music "COUNT!" It
was just mechanical and kind of dull, and it was more fun not to count [so I
did not do it]. In high school I was not good about counting, either. I would
sit there in the [clarinet] section, and I would just learn the music and follow
along with the other kids. I was really careless about that, and I paid for that
later in college. At my audition [for band at Michigan State] the director stuck
some sightreading in front of me. It was simple, but I just did not count it very
well, so I was moved way down the section. I would just get distracted; I
would think of other things.
I do not think I have a great amount of talent for music, in the sense that
some kids just pick it up easily. I have always had the feeling that I really
have to work at it. There are people who pick up the horn and it comes out
right--it seemed to come very easy. I never had that feeling at all. I never
thought the technique came easily. I really had to practice to do it. I think
most people really do.
J: Did you ever take piano anymore?
H: When I went to college I had to take class piano, and that was very easy for
me because I had had piano before. Some of the other people [in the class]
had had no piano. So that part was easy. I did not take any more private
lessons, although I did take small-group lessons. There we had those kind of
group piano books, and there were some interesting pieces to play. I
remember playing a piece by [Russian composer Aleksandr] Tcherepnin.
J: A bagatelle?
H: Yes. We had one or two of those. Now, whether we did those as choice
pieces that we could pick [I do not recall]. That must have been the way [we
did them]. They are not hard. You can bang around, and I enjoyed that. We
played things like [Robert] Schumann's "Soldiers March," which is in so many
piano books. But those were easy [for me] because I was more experienced
than the other kids. I remember my best friend, a trombone player there,
worked very hard. He was one of the most talented brass players I ever
knew. Yet on piano he was awful. [He put up] a great effort, [but his] fingers
were like they were all operating on different circuits! We were on the quarter
system--there were three quarters a year--and over the period of two years
we had three different teachers, so we learned the Schumann three times.
[laughter] I remind him of that [when I see him now].
J: What is his name?
H: Gerry Winters. He now says, "Well, I played it better each time." That
[piece] almost got him through the course. Yet he was so talented in many of
J: This is a continuation of the interview with Dr. Charles Russell Hoffer. We
are once again in his office in the music building on the University of Florida
campus. Today is Friday, February 6, 1987. It is 10:00 in the morning, and
my name is Mimi Johnson.
H: I thought of something regarding music education. My first year in college I
did not major in music. I thought, I am either going to be a clarinet performer
(when you are seventeen that is very romantic), or I am going to go in
sociology. I dabbled with the idea of doing clinical psychology, too.
Somehow that sounded [intriguing]. So my first year I was a sociology major.
But Keith Stein, whom I mentioned a lot in our previous session, told me,
"Make sure you take theory, because if you fall behind in the theory
sequence you will be behind all the rest of the program, including conducting
and things like that." I talked it over with him a little bit during the year. He
urged me to major in music education. At that point, having just graduated
from high school, that did not sound [like such a good idea]. I was too close
[to public education], having been in high school [so recently]. I am not
surprised that freshmen at eighteen wonder why they would want to go into
music ed. Anyway, I said: "No, no. I really do not want to do that. I do not
want to be a school music teacher." Well, he told me that he had started
college at Kansas and finished at the University of Michigan. Then he went
to get his master's at Eastman [School of Music] in performance. In the next
few years he played some in the Chicago Symphony [Orchestra]. After about
two years of that he decided he did not want to do that all his life. Well,
because he had majored in music education, that of course meant it was all
right [for me to do the same thing,] so I decided to major in music education.
We were on quarter hours in those days, not semester hours. I think a
bachelor's degree was 200 quarter hours. You needed about fifty a year, and
you took three quarters of seventeen and eighteen [hours each], or
something like that. The music ed. [degree] required 220, but you could take
a comprehensive examination in certain basic [academic] courses for
freshmen and sophomores--history of civilization, biological science, and
courses like that--and if your grades were good enough, say at the end of the
first or second quarter, you could Compp. out," comprehensive out [and
receive credit for the entire course.] That grade became your grade for the
whole course, all nine credits, nine quarter hours. I comped out of five
courses. I did not find that inordinately hard to do. [It was] the typical
situation that has gone on for thirty some years now, where music ed. degree
[programs] are longer. We try here at [the University of] Florida not to have a
significantly longer degree program, because there are so many demands on
music education students.
Now I think back on my life and wonder, Would I have gone into music
education if he [Keith Stein] had not said what he did? I think probably I
would have. It seems clear that that is what I should have done [all along]. I
was interested in music, and I was interested in people. That is the only
combination you can put together when you have those interests. Suppose I
had reached my dream of playing in the Chicago Symphony? I think it would
have become a bit tedious. You hear professional musicians in symphonies
talk, and they complain [about their work]. When I really discovered that was
when I went to Eastman and met some of the [University of] Rochester
people. Some of them were the most unhappy people I had ever met. Now,
they were not all that way, of course, but a lot of them are. I think this is so
because they tend to do the same thing over and over. The work is not as
romantic as you think. But when you are eighteen it seems like the greatest
thing in the world.
Anyway, Keith Stein had an influence, but I think there were maybe larger
factors that made it right [for me and music education] or it would not have
lasted. I think we sometimes influence people in little ways that we do not
Another matter in which he was quite influential was in my decision of where
to go for graduate school. I wanted to go to the best school and major in
clarinet. I had my teaching certificate and enjoyed teaching, but I wanted to
see if I could make it [as a performer]. I had not really seen a lot of
symphony people. I assumed they were all somewhat like the university
teachers that I had had. The Korean War had started, and I expected to be
drafted and would have to go off to Korea, so I tended not to think very far
into the future. Along about April or May the government put in a program in
which you could take a test. I suppose you could call it a "kissing cousin" to
J: What year was this?
H: [This was] 1951. If you took the test or your grades were a certain level, 3-
point-something, that meant you could go to graduate school. My grades
were over 3.0, but not way over. They did not give A's as easily in those
days. Anyway, I did fairly well on the test, so that meant I could go to
graduate school. I thought, I will get a master's at least before I have to go
off to play in the army band or something like that. I really did not think about
it [graduate school] until late in the [academic] year.
I remember mailing my application to Eastman just a few days before
Memorial Day. [laughter] I thought all you had to do was meet the admission
standards--have good grades, and play well enough. I did not realize that
Eastman took only two clarinetists in its graduate program. I received a letter
saying: "We have already filled our class for the next fall. However, you are
welcome to come to summer school." I was just shocked! I was used to the
public university where they just took another clarinet. I picked it because it
was the best school that had an academically recognized degree. Juilliard
did not, as you know. Even today a degree from Juilliard is not accepted [in
the academic community]. I had not heard much about the New England
Conservatory, so my choice was between Eastman or Juilliard. I took the
letter over to Mr. Stein--he lived only a couple of blocks from me--and said,
"Gee, I do not know what to do." He said, "Well, I think I would go and study
the summer anyway." It was only six weeks. I think he sort of knew how
things would go. So I went and studied that summer.
The regular clarinet teacher, Rufus Arey, was not there--he always spent
summers up at his home in Maine--so I studied with the second teacher, Bill
Osseck. He is still teaching. I just could not believe he did not play better
than he did. The first lesson I think my chin must have dropped when I heard
him play, because I am poor at disguising how I feel.
That summer I went to see a man named Arthur Larson, who was then
director of admissions. He was kind of a crusty old man. I said, "I am going
to go to college and earn a master's someplace, and I would like to do it here.
If I do not do it here I am going to Florida State." The chairman at Michigan
State had been a good friend of Dean Knersteiner at Florida State, and he
told me: "Go to Florida State. It is a different environment. There is a chance
that you could make some kind of orchestra that they ran across part of the
state. You could play second clarinet in that." It was not that the teacher
was really recognized. [In fact,] I had never heard of him, although that does
not mean a lot. Anyway, I told Larson: "I am either going to go here [or
there]. I have been admitted at Florida State in Tallahassee." (At that time I
hardly knew where Florida was.) Larson said, "Come back in two days."
This was about the fifth week of the summer session.
Two days later of course I was back in his office, and he said, "Well, we have
decided to admit you on top of the allotted number of clarinetists." Keith
Stein, I think, realized that if they thought you were good enough they would
find room. Well, that fall the big issue was Mr. Arey's class overload, [and I
was asked] if I would go study with Mr. Osseck. I said: "No, I will not. I came
here to study with Mr. Arey." I let them worry it out. They would have been
very glad to have me study with the second person. But I took [a degree in]
music literature at Eastman, because I really [wanted to pursue] that degree.
I do not know whether you took that [degree] or not.
H: It was a combination [program] with [Harold] Gleason and Vern Thompson. It
required analytical techniques for four credits (which you probably took), a
ten-credit literature course in the conference room at the top of Sibley Library
there, ten credits of clarinet, four credits of elective, and three or four credits
for writing a master's thesis. I had to play a recital. The program had a
strong literature emphasis, and I elected to take the few music ed. courses
[they offered. They were taught] by William Larson--no relation to Arthur.
One was Tests and Measurements, and the other was Psychology of Music.
He had been a student of Carl Seashore at Iowa, and he actually had a Ph.D.
in psychology. I took them because once you paid your fees you could take
as many credits as you wanted. [At that time, by the way,] I thought the fees
were outrageous: $300 a semester.
J: When I went in 1963 I think it was $1,000 a semester.
H: Today it is probably (I do not know) $3,000 to $4,000, at least. We had no
dormitories, of course. We rented rooms in houses. The girls were still near
the museum on East Avenue, about a mile from the school. I think today
there is [a men's dorm]. Remember, the Women's Campus of the University
of Rochester was there in those days. They have since closed it and moved
it out to the main campus. I was out on the river campus maybe twice the
year I was there. We went out there and played a concert. There was very
little reason ever to go out. It was a long way out there. I did not have a car.
[I had to] ride the bus out to the end of some line, and then walking was
quite an effort.
J: You were there what years?
H: I went the summer of 1951. Marjorie came in the fall. She was in the same
program, and that is where we met, in those literature classes. We both
graduated in June of 1952 with our master's [degrees]. We attended just the
My interest in music education was something that kind of grew slowly. I
think that maybe by my junior or senior year [of my undergraduate] I was
seeing a lot of sense to it. However, I think I had to get the playing and the
music literature [out of my system, so to speak]. I always found music history
and literature very easy. I had always received A's, and I did not have to
work very hard [for them]. I remember one [music] lit. exam: the only thing I
missed was the spelling of Cardinal Heironymus [von Colloredo of the
Salzburg Cathedral], a villain in music history. [The cardinal made life difficult
for W. A. Mozart. Ed.] The professor took off for spelling! Anyway, I started
to see more sense to it; I started to see the picture.
We had a very good person [in music education] at Michigan State named
Dr. William Sur. He was the head of music ed., and I had him for a course
about my senior year. Suddenly I started to see the larger pictures, and it
began to make a lot more sense than sitting around drumming band parts
into kids' heads. I discovered that I really did not want to go into musicology,
because it seemed to me like they spend so much of the time fussing and
piddling. Did you have any classes with Charles Warren Fox?
J: No. I saw him. I think he was there.
H: Yes, probably around the library. Well, he taught a doctoral seminar which I
was not enrolled in, but I heard about this one. When the Harvard Dictionary
[of Music, edited by Willi Apel] came out he assigned each of his students a
portion [of it]. Supposedly the whole semester was spent picking at the
Harvard Dictionary, the first edition, and he claims to have found over 1,000
errors [in it]. Well, probably 750 of them were differences of opinion. There
may have been errors. However, I thought, Do I really want to spend my life
doing that? No. I liked history and literature to an extent, but I surely did not
want to spend my time doing the things that most musicologists do. It just is
not that interesting [to me], and I just did not believe that it was that
The other [thing that had interested me] was performance [playing the
clarinet]. I came real close to playing a job with the Rochester Philharmonic,
but you were supposed to have a visiting union card, and by the time I got
one I had missed the chance. It nearly broke my heart. I thought, My one
chance! Anyway, the playing was not going anyplace.
J: When was this?
H: That was for Daphnis and Chloe [by Maurice Ravel]. The score calls for E-
flat soprano clarinet, two B-flats, and a bass clarinet. One of the fellows was
going to move over and play E-flat [soprano], and I was going to play the
second [Bb] clarinet part. Remember, locals are real strict about who plays
where. I was a member [of the musicians union] in Michigan, but somehow
the transfer [did not arrive in time]. I have really forgotten how the details
went on this, but because I did not have the visitor card in my pocket [I was
not allowed to perform].
As time went on I realized that just playing was not really that interesting
either, [considering] the hours that it would require and the kinds of [job]
situations. Besides, it was not always easy to get jobs. In those days there
were really only about five or six symphonies in which you could make a
living, such as Chicago, New York, Boston, and Cleveland. It is not like today
where there may be twenty-five in which you can make a living. Orchestras
like Washington, DC, in those days, where Eastman graduates were playing,
paid about $3,000 a year. For so many of them it was a real struggle. They
just hardly could make it.
J: What year are you in?
H: [This is] 1951 and 1952. It was not only that. I just did not think it was that
interesting any longer [to earn a living by playing the clarinet]. So I made the
decision while at Eastman [to return to music education]. It was not any
great decision like Scarlet O'Hara's in Gone With the Windwhen she said, "I'll
never be hungry again." There was no big dramatic moment. Well, the
Korean War was still on, so I figured I would get as far in graduate school
toward a doctorate as I could, because as you grow older it is harder.
The other reason [I decided to pursue advanced degrees early] is because of
my father. I had heard all my life about students who late in their careers
decided to pursue a doctorate. He had seen so many of them start [the
program and then] have a family, and they found it very hard. All my life that
I was aware I heard him say, "Do not put it off, because if you put it off each
year it gets a little harder." I think that is very good advice. I think if you are
a little older you are not as inclined to put up with the "Mickey Mouse"
[rigmarole] sometimes required of graduate students. The economic
pressure and the psychological commitment [are easier for older students]. I
have seen this now for a long time. So even though I was very young and
had not even actually taught at that point, I still decided I was going to start a
doctorate. I had taught in schools and private lessons a lot.
I talked to Dr. Sur about where to go, and he said: "Well, there are really only
four places. One is the University of Michigan, one was New York University
(there was a man there who quite well recognized), one was Michigan State--
I think we are going to get a program here at Michigan State--and the
University of Illinois." In 1952 there really were very few places that were
strong in music education, I thought. A lot of people went to Teachers
College at Columbia [University], but he [Sur] apparently did not feel that it
was a strong degree program. I would agree now, knowing what I know now.
I said: "Okay. I will go back to Michigan. I am a Michigan resident, so it will
not cost so much." I looked into New York University, and it was expensive,
being a private school. I would have had to live in New Jersey and drive
across the Hudson River and all that. I really am just not a New Yorker, I
guess. I am from the Midwest. I am glad I did not try that.
I applied at both the University of Michigan and Michigan State [University].
At least I could do a degree at Michigan State very similar to what we have at
Florida now, which is this combination kind of thing where you go with
education and music. [It is a cooperative effort between the two colleges.] I
was accepted to both. I went home spring break from Eastman and talked to
Allen Britten at the University of Michigan. He seemed extremely casual
about it all. I showed him the courses I had taken at Eastman and asked
him: "Will these count? I spent a whole year." He said: "Do not worry about
it. We will see after you get here. I do not know. Do not worry about it." I
was still concerned. That was a whole year of work!
Still, I applied to every school system, to all the community school systems--
there were very few graduate assistantships--within commuting distance for
part-time work. I applied to all the school systems around East Lansing
within thirty miles and around Ann Arbor within a thirty-mile radius. Nothing
came along. By August 1 I realized it was getting very late. I do not know
why I was not more nervous. I spent that summer taking German, the
second most dull summer of my life. The first most dull summer was the one
at Eastman. I tell you, nothing happened around Eastman in the summer!
J: That was in the summer of 1951, and now we are in the summer of 1952.
H: Yes. So I took German. It was nine weeks, about three and a half hours of
class a day, of nothing but German. By the last few weeks, oh, boy! I had
decided to take a harder language first--we had to pass both French and
J: Where did you take this?
H: At Michigan State. I was living at home still. I was engaged by then. That
year Marjorie was going to Indiana State getting a teaching certificate. She
had been an applied major in violin, and suddenly we found out that when
you are twenty-one and cute it is hard to get jobs teaching at the college
level. She got a part-time job teaching in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, near Terre
Haute, Indiana. She also played in a community orchestra, and they gave
her some financial help, too. She did finish her certification courses, because
she had done all her [other] work at Eastman as a violin performance major.
She spent a year [picking up the other credits she needed for a teaching
certificate]. She did student teaching and took some courses. Of course,
they were glad to have her. She went around played at alumni club meetings
and all sorts of things.
Well, I finally got a job south of Lansing in a then-unincorporated area called
Holt. It was a financially impoverished district, and I worked there half time.
J: Doing what?
H: Vocal music. This makes no sense, I know, but a lot of vocal music jobs
open up in relation to instrumental jobs. I taught choir and some other junior
high general music. It was not a very well organized system. I remember
one day we were singing something from Oklahoma, and we had run out of
music--the choir had gotten larger. I requested five more copies from Octavo
at twenty cents a copy. The superintendent said, "Do you really need this?" I
J: What was the name of that school?
H: It was Holt Public Schools. So I went [to Michigan State] half-time and took
about twelve credits. I did like you are doing: I took way too many courses.
Dr. Sur said: "Do not tell me how much work you are doing out there at Holt.
If you tell me, then I cannot let you enroll. So do not tell me. Just go ahead
and do it." So I went ahead. Let me think. Had I passed my German by
then? No. I was just taking French. I was so tired of German I could not
even look at it. I went ahead and took some French and some other courses,
but I was taking about twelve [hours]. You were considered a full-time
student [if you were taking twelve hours].
J: Twelve credits or twelve classes?
H: Twelve hours. I were considered a full-time student, which kept me out of the
Korean draft. I figured, The further I get the better off I am going to be. I
figured I would be drafted, but I just thought, Why not [go for the degree]?
The next year a job opened up at Grand Ledge, which was a much nicer
school. I taught actually five-sixths time; I just had one period off. I was still
carrying quite a lot of work.
J: What did you teach?
H: I taught some instrumental beginning classes, but mostly I taught the high
school choir and some junior high general music. It was a good school
system, so much better organized [than Holt]. The student body was a
typical cross section of America. [There were] a lot of kids whose parents
farmed in those days. A lot of their parents worked at the Oldsmobile plant in
Lansing, about ten miles on the west side of Lansing. They built what was
called the "rocket" engine; they used to call their V-8 the "rocket." And [there
were] some kids from town, so it was a typical school. It was the kind of
place where you could make some mistakes and nobody got upset. I
enjoyed that and worked very, very hard. I was also working on my
Marjorie and I were married that Thanksgiving, in 1953. She was teaching at
this town south of Lansing, so I would drive about eighteen or twenty miles
across the country to Grand Ledge. Then after school I would drive over to
East Lansing about another fifteen or twenty miles and then back down to
Eaton Rapids, which was another fifteen or twenty miles. It is the kind of
thing you really could not keep up for long. I bought a car finally. It was a
1941 Plymouth with a 1948 engine in it. It was a big game every morning to
see if I could get that car started. Cars had not been made for a long time
during the war, and it was really hard to get cars that were any good. So it
was really something to see if we could get that car to go. The neighbors
would comment to Marjorie, "It took your husband ten minutes to get it going
[this morning]." One day I was late to school because a guy was driving
sheep down this little country road, and I had to wait and amble behind the
sheep. That was probably the hardest year I ever worked, 1953-1954.
J: When did you start at Holt?
H: [I started in the fall of] 1952. I really taught there only one year. They had
some budget problems, and they decided to combine some positions, so the
half-time position was eliminated. But I had the chance to move to Grand
J: I think we had better back up to Eastman. By now you are married. Let us
go back to when you first met your wife. [Was that] in the summer of 1952?
H: No, not in the summer. She had graduated from Eastman, and she
apparently knew enough to apply in January. I did not know until after I was
there that in January Allen McHose and people like that went around to
Kansas City and Chicago [to audition students]. They made most of their
admission decisions in February, at least at the graduate level. I imagine
when you applied you probably applied in the fall.
J: Yes, February.
H: Somebody heard you in Miami?
J: I just sent in a tape.
H: They did not have a lot of flexibility about how many students they took.
They always wanted to fill up the class with the best people.
Now, I remember the first time I saw Marjorie. We were in a music literature
class sitting around the tables at the Sibley Library, and for some reason she
came in about two minutes late. I think it was because her registration had
gotten botched up. She came in and sat down across the room. I thought,
This girl is cute. I was used to Michigan State where there were about two
guys for every girl. Around Eastman there were more girls than guys, and,
as you know, some of the guys were not very interested in girls. [laughter] I
assumed all along that she was probably going with somebody and was
dating, because at Michigan State that would have happened.
J: What year is this?
H: [This was] 1952. So a couple months went by, and I did not ask her out.
One day she sat next to me, and I was thrilled. We had to trade papers [to
grade them]; we had a quiz on the modes--the mixolydian and the dorian and
all this stuff. She had not studied and did not do very well. She always got
good grades, and it really bothered her. I did all right. Anyway, she was just
so disturbed, and it was just really cute. I said: "Oh, well. Some days are
just not so good." She still remembers this very clearly. I really had not
asked her out, and even then did not. Finally I asked one of the guys named
Dick Gilley, who was a singer, "Is Marjorie Latham going with anybody?" He
said, "I do not think so." I said, "Maybe I will ask her out," and he said,
"Yeah, that would be good for both of you." That was 1952. We are still
trying to figure out what that remark meant. [laughter] He was kind of a
I finally asked her--it was almost December by that time--and we started
going out a lot. By May I had given her my Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia pin. That
was a big deal at Eastman. I had joined at Michigan State, but it was not
very important there. In fact, I had to go home [at spring break] and find the
pin. When I went to a Phi Mu meeting at Eastman one of the guys pulled the
secret handshake [on me], and I had no idea what it was. SAI [Sigma Alpha
lota] and Delta Omicron were quite [important] at Eastman because they did
not really have a lot of other groups. At Michigan State we just met a couple
of times. It was kind of a joke in a way. But we went to a Phi Mu [Alpha]
Sinfonia dance. I had given her the pin before. I finally got up my nerve to
ask her to marry me.
H: Oh, it must have been in May of 1953. I was absolutely petrified. She was
very deliberate and thought about it for a while, and finally the night before
graduation she said yes. The entire next year we were not together very
much because she was down at Terre Haute, Indiana, [working on getting
her] teaching certificate and I was up in Michigan going to school and
teaching. It was tough. We were trying to see each other as much as
possible, but it was not a lot of fun. We got married in the fall of 1953 at
J: On Thanksgiving Day?
H: No, the day after, November 27, 1953. We just decided that was the easiest
for everybody, because toward Christmas it got harder and so on. Now, we
had snow in Indiana [just after the wedding].
J: You were both off on vacation then? [Is that why you got married at
H: Well, we had Thursday, Friday, and the weekend off, and we took Monday
off. Marjorie was docked $13.86 or something like that. The next spring the
superintendent at Grand Ledge offered her a job, also, so be both taught at
the same school system. The superintendent where Marjorie was teaching
at Eaton Rapids was so sorry to see her go. I asked him, "Mr. Beiser, why
did you dock her pay?" He should not have done that. That does not make
very good relationships. Being in the same town it meant that travel was so
much easier. We shared an office. She taught some of the junior high girls
and elementary vocal. She did not teach strings because they did not have a
string program. I was teaching the junior high band and beginning
instrumental and the high school choir.
J: What were the names of the schools?
H: Well, these were all in the Grand Ledge system. At that time junior high was
just almost in the same buildings [as the high school]. There were some
elementary schools that we traveled to in Grand Ledge.
J: Dr. Hoffer, I wonder if we could just clarify a few things before we go on with
this interview. I know that you said you were named after your dad, so
actually you are a junior, but did they ever officially use the word junior?
J: Could you give us the addresses of the houses that you lived in when you
were growing up?
H: I cannot remember accurately the address of the first one that I mentioned. It
was something like 457 Haslett Street. Then when we moved across the
street it was 500 Haslett; that is very easy [to remember]. That is the house
that I remember, where I lived so long. Today that is called Collingwood
J: What county?
J: Do you remember the name of the hospital you were born in?
H: Edward W. Sparrow in Lansing, Michigan, in Ingham County. Terry Small
[UF professor of music] was also born in that same hospital, although not the
same time. [He is] about seven years younger.
J: What is your mother's full name?
H: Luella. [Her father's name] was Martin Holm; I do not know his middle name.
I would have to look that up. We do have that record. [His last name was]
Holm, later Holmes. On my father's side his father's name was William
J What about grandmothers?
H My mother's grandmother's first name was Hilda, I think Her name before she was married
was Deman, possibly with two n's, but I think in America they spelled it with only one On my
father's side his mother's first name was Lotte, and her name before she was married was
J And your sister's full name is?
H Clarice Luella
J And she was born April 28, 19327
J Where is she living now?
H The place has a Spanish name, La Pina, out in San Bernardino County, California
J Is she married?
H She is divorced
J Does she have any children?
H Yes, there are two, my nephew Andrew and my niece Erica
J How old are they?
H Andy will be twenty-nine, and Erica will be twenty-five
J Where do they live?
H Both live in the Los Angeles area Andy was the co-author of that song called "Rise" that was
at the top of the charts for a couple of weeks in 1979 He worked with a fellow named Randy
Alpert, who is the nephew of Herb Alpert Herb did the recording of it Randy used his
professional name in those days, Randy Badass Randy is a little weird They wrote an
instrumental number [and dedicated it to his girlfriend] He was engaged to a girl named Rise
[Ree-sah], but everybody kept calling it "Rise It was a typical Herb Alpert instrumental
number They got a gold record for that
J I probably know it
H Well, it was number one on the charts about two to three weeks, it was on the charts for
sixteen weeks or so Ever since then he has been trying to have another [gold record] He
has done some arranging for Alpert Now he is working in a store selling electronic
keyboards, and he and Rise are divorced
One Saturday afternoon our daughter-in-law called from a town sixty miles away [from
Bloomington, Indiana] where they lived, Seymour, and she asked, "Are you watching 'Soul
Train'?" Sure We watch it all the time [laughter] She said, "Well, I am watching 'Soul
Train' while I am ironing, and Andy is on it" You may not remember, but "Soul Train" is
[basically an] all-black [program], but they sometimes feature other groups, and they
happened to feature Randy Badass and Andy and the band doing "Rise They also had a
little interview with Herb Alpert Of course, they were "playing" to their own tape They really
do not perform on the show Anyway, I could see Andy over there playing keyboard (He
also played oboe quite well at one time ) They kept hoping to get on other shows They tried
to get on "Saturday Night Live," but they did not It sort of all frittered away But Herb Alpert
wrote something to Andy that says "Thank you for the first gold record in ten years" Alpert
had been very successful in about 1966 with the Tijuana Brass Of course, now he is a very
well-to-do executive He owns A & M Records--A & M is Alpert and Melcher, or something
like that They own all sorts of labels It is very profitable
J Where do you think you got your talent from? You know how we talked about nature/nurture
[in Foundations of Music Education class] Describe it in yourself
H Well, as I said in the last session, I do not think I had the natural music talent in the sense
that it just popped out, especially in finger technique I do not think that ever came very
easily I think if I had a talent it was more in thinking things through This has perhaps
helped in writing books In writing textbooks I think it helps a lot if you have a logical mind
What does this mean to that, and where does this fit in? What you really have to do is
synthesize an enormous amount of information The Foundations [of Music Education] text,
for instance, is an attempt to synthesize the world and its contents Everything relates to
everything in a way, [and we wanted to include] all things that influence music If I have talent
it is in that way
As far as music talent, I think it relates to that I have a fair amount of talent in the sense of
an ear for quality in sound and phrasing I always had a good tone quality on clarinet It was
just something I really wanted, and I worked at it until I got it So I think in that sense I
probably had talent Being very analytical and synthesizing and thinking a lot does not help
you play With things like rhythm, if you think too hard about what you are doing rhythmically
you actually become self-conscious, and you do not do it as well I think I was not an
instinctive musician in the way that some people are, I just do not do things very instinctively
I tend to be quite analytical about what I do I think that helps as a teacher It helps you in
some ways as a performer, but other times you just simply have to turn that off--it does not
You have heard of Yehudi Menuhin, who was a great child prodigy Maybe I mentioned him
in class When he got about forty it really bothered him that he had no idea what he was
doing He had just always been able to do it He was a natural, instinctive violinist, a great
talent So he spent a lot of time analyzing his own playing, because it was just beginning to
bother him terribly He said, "I really do not understand what I am doing or why I am doing
it" He dropped out of concertizing for a while and began to analyze what he was doing I
can understand how he felt He was pretty intelligent and inquisitive, and it really bothered
him that he did not know what he was doing He had just been able to do it all his life
J What was the name of your church?
H Peoples Church It was an interdenominational church It was really originally one-fourth
Presbyterian, one-fourth Congregationalist, one-fourth Baptist, and one-fourth Methodist
When it was founded it was the only Protestant church in East Lansing In fact, it was the
only church in East Lansing East Lansing was just a small town, just where the university
was Of course, now it is much bigger They put in a Catholic student center first and then a
Catholic church about 1940 or so I think there is a denomination there now from Buddhists
to you name it
J How big was the city when you lived in it?
H Five thousand
J Let us go back to your childhood How would you describe it? Was it happy? Was it fun?
Was it difficult?
H I have never thought about it I guess you would say that it was happy I do not think it was
difficult Certainly not unhappy I think all kids worry about things I see this in my
grandkids--that is what made me think of it When I was about five years old and wanted to
go down into the basement to get something, I would take Clarice with me [laughter] Last
Christmas we were with our grandson Andrew, who is about five He wanted to go get
something in the other part of the house, and he took his sister with him, a little two and a half
year old It was funny All kids just go through little things like that No, I do not remember
great problems or unhappiness at all I did not ask myself, Am I happy? I just took one day
at a time, to quote a TV title
J Is your family pretty close?
H Yes, very close Both my parents had grown up in families [that "battled" quite a bit] [My
grandparents on my father's side were divorced just after] my dad was married My
grandfather got pretty erratic, and my grandmother was pretty worried that he might do
something and hurt her She finally had to leave, and she got a divorce My mother once
told me that my dad went down to court in northern Indiana for the divorce proceedings, and
when he came home he sat down on the bed and cried It really hurt him Of course, I think
he was aware for years that things were not right, and it bothered him enormously He did
not say a lot about it I think that his three brothers felt that, except maybe the youngest He
reacted differently because he was so young I am sure that influenced my father's thinking
In my mother's family, my grandmother was an extremely hard-driving little German lady My
mother has told me how important it was to my grandmother to be to Sunday school on time
She had hard feelings about this, and my mother has always reacted against that Mother
said it was not worth twisting everybody on Sunday morning just to get to church on time My
grandfather was a very easy-going Scandinavian He was bright and did a lot of things, but
he was not of that temperament They never divorced or anything like that So both my
parents grew up where there was a lot of battling
I heard virtually no hard words between my mother and father all their lives I thinkthey just
had an understanding that you do not do that They just never got into [any big fights] If
there were a disagreement it was extremely low key, and somehow it was worked out So I
think somehow we got the message about the importance of family As long as my father
was alive [he maintained close contact with his family] I remember when he was visiting my
sister in California at Christmas he spent most of Christmas Day trying to get a phone call
through to us He would try the phone every fifteen minutes or so What was important was
the commitment it represented I think I feel that way
I am like my father in a lot of ways In some ways I am not I suppose we are never entirely
like our parents, but I am a lot like him [in that way], I am sure It was just extremely
important Those things came first always It was just very clear that family considerations
J Keep going on how you are like your dad
H The way I am unlike him is that he was not competitive at all He was very poor at "tooting
his own horn He was just simply not competitive Somehow when I was growing up I was
very competitive We would play Monopoly, and I had to win My mother could not
understand that She would say, "Charles, I do not know why you like to do this" When I
played Ping-Pong it was like my psyche was on the line One time I was playing with
Marjorle's cousin, who was a pretty good player He was beating me, and I was about to lose
my cool Marjorle was embarrassed She was saying, "He is not like this" You wonder, why
[is] a stupid Ping-Pong game [so important]? You look at it and wonder, Why do you do that?
As I have gotten older I am a little less that way, but I still am very competitive I have no
idea why I was that way In that sense I am not at all like my father
We would give him Christmas presents, like a new shirt, and three years later it would still be
wrapped in cellophane and he would be wearing some ratty old shirt "It is not worn out yet"
He was like that about everything He just did not care [about clothes or material things] I
am not like that As long as the car ran, [it was all right with him] I remember the car was all
dinged up But for me everything has to be neat and in order In that sense I am not [like
I am like him in the sense that he was very conscious of what I call "the big ideas," the really
important things, such as what is most important in life? What are we really trying to do with
our lives? Mentally I am a lot like that I am always raising questions, like what are school
teachers really trying to do? What are we here for in the first place? In my mind everything
has to fit He was very strong on that He was not distracted by trivia and insignificant detail
He was very impatient, and he did not bother with it He would write letters and manuscripts
for articles, and he would make all sorts of little mistakes He would then go back and pen in
things, and even then he would miss a lot of them To him that was not as important as
getting the basic ideas down In that sense I am a lot like him
Marjorle and I are probably a good combination, because she is very meticulous She used
to go over what I wrote very carefully when I was first writing I have gotten better [about
details], I am not as sloppy as I used to be I used to just plow through Words were missing,
Marjorle does not go over a lot of things like that now, but initially she did Her parents
were quite literary They have written a couple books [one of which was quite successful]
J What was its name?
H Let God In It is religious, [self-help] book in the Norman Vincent Peale tradition It was
published by Prentice-Hall It was adopted by "Guideposts," which is quite an important
Protestant magazine It was one of their book offerings [one year] It sold well on that list It
did not do well in the trade market, but they did sell a lot of copies through "Guideposts" Her
father received a reduced royalty for that, but, nevertheless, it made money, which was nice,
because he was a minister and never had much money He was a Presbyterian minister
Marjorle grew up in a family that was very conscious of writing and careful in speech
I think temperamentally I am a lot like my father The first time he was offered a new idea he
tended to say no I find that I am a little like that I know this consciously, so I sometimes
say, "I will think about it" A lot of times things that initially I was negative about become more
positive after I had thought about them Not always I think in that sense I am a lot like him
He was very conservative personally--not politically conservative, but in his style and manner
of dress In some ways he was a very mannerly man, even though he had grown up on a
farm [He was] not elegant, but he was very thoughtful My mother was, too I think in some
of those ways I am a lot like my dad He did not jump on new ideas easily, and I find that is
very true [for me], too
Of course, he grew up in a different era We have to keep that in mind It bothered him very
much if he were in debt at all He once had a little eight-year mortgage on the house [in East
Lansing] I was talking about, but it was all paid off I buy almost nothing on time myself We
do have a small mortgage on our house here, which we will probably pay off this year We
did not want to pull a lot out of savings when we moved [to Florida] I spent money like a
drunken sailor compared to my father He had it, but he did not care It did not matter But I
thinkthis is a different era People who went through the Depression are very conscious of
[I tended to look at several aspects of a situation For example, I have a cousin who was
born on Friday, April 13, in a taxi cab on the way to the hospital The paper said it was at
7 13 in the morning, but who was counting? She was born in the back seat of the cab So it
got in the [Minneapolis] paper "Born Friday, 13, at 7 13 She was laughing about that when
I reminded her about that this weekend She said, "It is more important to have your name in
the paper for things you did when you die than when you are born I said, "Well, you can do
it both times"
J What was her name?
H Well, it is Botker now--it is very German--but her [maiden] name was Almqulst "Qulsts" are
J And she lives where?
H She lives almost to South Dakota, in Clinton, Minnesota, about twelve or fifteen miles from
the [state] line Her husband is retired He finally got Social Security, since he is sixty-five
They were farming about 1,300 acres--grain, soy beans, and that sort of thing It is hard
work The son is taking over the farm They had three boys and three girls A lot of the
Lutherans are getting together, and finally the denominations on that one nationally are
getting together In some parts of Minnesota it is not only if you are Lutheran, it is what kind
of Lutheran you are, whether you are Norwegian Lutheran, Swedish Lutheran, German
Lutheran, and there are a couple of other kinds, too
Going back to fifth grade, we had a classroom teacher who was referred to in the
Foundations book She was an unusually capable lady named Irene Holschuh You meet
certain people that are kind of exceptional, and she was really a cut above the average She
was very anxious for her students to have the best Instead of [sitting quietly] when we had
study time, she would play music records Now, these were shellac 78s We are not talking
good-quality sound, but we thought it was terrific She would play [W A ] Mozart and [Franz]
Schubert and so on, and she did this all year The kids would say, "I like this," or, "I like that"
She played the Cesar Franck [Symphony in] d minor I thought that was pretty neat I had
never heard a piece like that My folks not being musicians, we did not have anything [like
that] at home So they bought a record player, and it played through the radio some way
The album they got with it was called "The Heart of the Symphony", it had about four 78
J Who is they?
H My folks On the 78 rpm records you could get maybe four minutes of music [on a side] It
was so different [from what we have today To listen to] a whole symphony you kept
changing the discs I remember we had automatic changers to do that But there was
always a break right in the middle [of the music] [Imagine listening to] the Schubert
[Symphony No 8,] Unfinished, the Brahms [Symphony No 2 in] d minor, the Cesar Franck,
Dvoraks New World Symphony, the second movement, and it would just stop It would not
even finish [laughter] You would think it was awful [to cut off in the middle of the music]
But I really got "turned on" to some pieces just by hearing four minutes [of them] The Cesar
Franck was my favorite I asked for that for Christmas and got it It took six discs to get
through it, but I really liked that work, and it was because that teacher, Holschuh, played that
kind of music [for her class] Kids who had that kind of thing for a couple of years had a very
different attitude toward music A lot of kids, I think, got turned on to quality music because of
what she did in her fifth-grade class She would do this every day She knew a lot of music
herself I was very fond of it I hear Cesar Franc today, and it is still a pretty exciting piece It
is just the power that it generates [that impresses me] It is a terrific piece At ten years of
age that was probably the piece that grabbed me more than any other
There is something else she did that might be of interest to you When we had rainy days or
snowy days, which we had a lot of, we would not go out for recess She had all the kids who
played piano play [for the class] [The students] listened--you did not fool around, because
you were quickly taken out if you fooled around In that kind of school a lot of kids--maybe
half the class--took piano We always played our pieces Of course, we were very nervous
But as we kept doing this we got better, and the kids sort of gained some appreciation for
their classmates who could do it
Probably the height of my piano experience was playing "Country Gardens" Everybody was
playing that Percy Grainger made himself famous with that piece He wrote a fantasy on
that or a theme and variation on it Percy Grainger was synonymous with that piece for a
while He took that tune and really made a piece out of it
I thought about that, and I wrote about that and her in the [Foundations] book to describe the
influence that a person can have She was probably in some respects an excellent music
teacher, even though she was not designated a music teacher, not in getting us to play but
also in getting us to listen [and developing] a [positive] attitude Even though we may have
been doing something at our seats and working, we were still supposed to listen to the piece
It was not a music class as such, but we learned a lot [about music] She was a very
interesting person, and I have thought about her a lot of times
J This is a continuation of the interview with Dr Charles Russell Hoffer on Thursday, February
10, 1987 It is 2 P M and we are in his office in the Music Building on the University of
Florida campus Dr Hoffer, when we left off last time you were talking about your dad and
ways that you are like him and different from him You left off by saying that this is a different
era, that the people who have gone through the Depression see things differently Would you
tell us how the Depression affected your family, your parents?
H Not as much as some, because my father had a job all through the Depression teaching at
Michigan State Professors'salaries were cut back a little bit Before the Depression he was
making $3,500, and it went down to $3,100 It did not really go up a lot from that until after
the war People did not get raises every year like we are used to today I think the economic
level that people had in those days was just simply not what we are used to today If
somebody does not have an electric refrigerator today it is really quite surprising Well, in
those days having a refrigerator was far less common I think it affected their outlook more
than it directly affected them In a way they came through the Depression pretty well Some
people had a terrible time They were out of work, and there was no unemployment
insurance and things like that like we have today The Depression really hit people in a very
severe way I have only vague memories of it I think we do not really understand how
people felt That is really what I am getting at
J You said that you had a very close family relationship How did your parents treat you as a
child? Were they strict? Were they lenient?
H Of course, I thought they were strict, but they were moderate [laughter] I think they were
very definite that there were certain things you did and did not do One of them was you
simply did not tell lies or falsehoods Boy, the first time [you got caught in a lie] you really
thought the world fell in on you My mother said she did not have so much trouble with me on
that She had trouble with my sister, she had to get after her a time or two I had some other
little things She said if I had been left alone I would have just bossed things There were
certain fundamental things that we were expected to do, and they were very firm about that
And we knew that I do not think they were extremely strict When you are a kid you sort of
think so, but it obviously is not true We knew who was in charge, even though they did not
say a lot about it
J Did they ever spank you?
H Oh, yes, a lot of times for teasing my sister [Those are] the ones I remember most She
provided a certain amount of entertainment, because she would squeal, yell, and say, "This
was going on It was sometimes partly true I got in trouble for that
J What did you call your parents? Mom and Dad? Mommy and Daddy?
H Dad and Mom I think those are not very imaginative names
J Did you ever go through a difficult period when you were growing up?
H Not in the way that some people refer to it I remember one incident when I was in fourth
grade [We did] not [have] a very good classroom teacher That is why I think Miss Holschuh
meant a lot [to me a year later] My mother was sick a lot [that year] She had a slipped disc
She had surgery on it and was in the hospital a lot that year I think that sort of affected [the
students] At the time I did not realize what was going on It just seemed like a lot of things
did not go well [for me] As I look back on it, it was very obvious that that was bothering me
As a kid I do not think you can sense that Mom was gone when she was in Henry Ford
Hospital [in Detroit] for a couple of weeks, and then she had surgery at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester [Minnesota] The surgery was successful, but it was a year before she was
recuperated I think it bothered me
Another time that I remember as being hard was when I was in seventh grade We went to a
departmentalized high school/junior high school Suddenly my friends from elementary
school, the boys that lived around, were not friends anymore because we had different
interests I do not have a lot of happy memories of seventh grade It was a dull curriculum,
and I was changing friends It was a transitional time of life I think a lot of kids go through
[times like] that around seventh and eighth grade I do not think a lot of kids look back and
think that really was a neat time
J What was your relationship like with your sister? I know you said you teased her a lot, but
were you very close?
H Well, when you are kids, no Some of the time was [spent] scrapping around But as we got
older in high school we got quite close She is a very able person, and she accompanied me
when I was a senior So I think we were quite close
J Did you know your grandparents very well?
H Not really My grandfather on my mother's side died when I was seven, and Grandma died
when I was about twelve She lived in Minnesota, so I would see her once or twice a year
People did not get around as easily as we do today [We could not] jump on an airplane My
Grandfather Hoffer died when I was five, and I only saw him once My Grandmother Hoffer
died when I was about fourteen, and I saw her occasionally So I did not know them really
well Also remember that my folks were older I told you my dad was thirty-eight when I was
born, and my mother was thirty-two That made my grandparents a little older Most of my
them [my grandparents] were in their seventies when they died, and I think that cut down [my
time for knowing them] My dad's parents lived in northern Indiana and my mother's parents
lived in Minnesota, and it was hard in those days [to go visit them] It was a 600-mile trip to
drive to Minnesota, and we did not even make it in one day The roads were not interstates,
believe me It was not as easy to get around as it is today Distance was more of an
obstacle than today We did not travel in the winter People did not think of that, partly
because they did not plow roads well
J How far was your home from school?
H The elementary school was just a block away
J Junior high and high school?
H Well, that was probably three quarters of a mile
J How did you get there?
H In seventh and eighth grade we rode bicycles In ninth grade there was some unwritten rule
nobody rode bicycles unless you were a "hick," so we always walked You know how kids
are about things like that
J Tell us about your social life when you were in school growing up, when you were little Did
you take much time to have a social life? [Did you] go to dances, date, or things like that?
H Social life revolved mostly around the school They would hold a couple dances [each year]
Now, some public schools will not, even today, because some of the church groups get
excited if you use the word dance But East Lansing is fairly liberal, I suppose, compared to
other places, so we had a couple parties in seventh grade and a couple in eighth grade Of
course, in high school sometimes there was a short dance after basketball or football
[games] We had a fair amount of social life, and I went through some of the usual things
About ninth grade a couple male friends of mine went down every Saturday [night] for the
double-feature "horror" movies, with the vampires and all this kind of thing For about eight
weeks we did that, and in those eight weeks we were bored to death with them I suppose
our reasons were the same as those of kids who watch those types of shows on TV now It is
sort of a phase we went through The war was on then, and we had to take the bus
downtown to Lansing to see it
J This is what world war?
H The Second World War, 1941-1945 When I was about a junior [in high school] I went with a
girl who was in my class, and then we sort of stopped going together In our senior year we
went "steady" for a while This was the thing to do in those days
J What was her name?
H Mary Wheeler We did not have a lot in common I was interested in music and things like
that [and she was not] But everybody sort of went "steady" When my son went through
high school nobody did that--going steady was really out But when I was in high school, at
least in East Lansing, it was really in I remember her folks had immigrated from England
Her father was an engineer with Consumers Power [Company] She went to the Episcopal
Church, and one time she asked me, "Do you say amen [a-men] or amen [ah-men]7" I had to
think a while, I could not remember I said, "I guess I say amen [a-men]" She said, "Well, in
the Episcopal Church we say amen [ah-men] They had that attitude By the time we
finished high school our relationship ended completely We just did not have that much in
common There was not much to tell, really My first year in college I did not date much I
did some, but not a lot I do not think I went steady thereafter until I was going with Marjorle
J Did you have any kind of a job before you graduated from high school?
H No Kids did not do that as much [in those days] The only thing I did was mow a lot of
lawns I had been doing that since I was a kid The mowers the kind that you pushed
around Nobody had anything with gasoline[-powered mowers] in those days Mowing took a
J Then you had to rake it
H Well, I did not have to rake all of them, but I did some Or I had a grass catcher that went
behind [the mower] I did quite a lot of that for a while I suppose that is the nearest thing to
a job [I had] But the whole fast-food thing hardly existed I did a little bit of [clarinet] teaching
in college, I taught some neighbor kids clarinet
J That was when you were in college?
J You did not have a job other than that when you were in college, did you?
H No Well, let me back up During school, no In the summers when I was about fourteen I
worked for the horticulture department [at Michigan State] That was a big department there,
with apple growing and all the fruit growing that goes on in Michigan I started when I was
fourteen, and then about every summer for at least about six years I worked in horticulture I
would work all day, the eight-to-five business I did highly skilled labor, like shoveling manure
under apple trees, picking fruit--just about anything they wanted It was a little different every
day I worked for various professors sometimes when they wanted help on research projects,
they would ask me to go out and count something Sometimes the work was planting
seedlings, sometimes it was just plain weeding I did that about six years, but only during the
summer I did not work at all during the school year That is why I forgot about it [when you
asked] It was all during the summer I did not got to school at all in the summer
J That started when?
H Oh, when I was fourteen I know I did that until I was at least twenty
J Okay I know you lived at home when you went to college Until when?
H Well, until I went to Eastman
J In 19517
J So you graduated from East Lansing High School in May of 19479
J And that following summer you worked What did you do then?
H I started college in the fall
J And you got your master's degree in June of 19527
J From Michigan State?
H No, that was from Eastman My bachelor's was from Michigan State
J All right So June 1951 [you received a] bachelor of music, with a major in public school
music, from Michigan State, and in June 1952 [you received a] master of music, with a major
in music literature, from Eastman
J Then you started studying German in the summer 1952 Why?
H Because that was one of the two requirements for the Ph D
J When were you accepted into the Ph D program?
H Well, I had applied while I was at Eastman, and I was accepted both at [the University of]
Michigan and at Michigan State I decided I would go wherever I got ajob In August I got a
job south of Lansing in the Holt school district I did not have much money, so I taught half
time and started at Michigan State that fall
J So this would have been required wherever you went?
H Yes, that is what I figured Almost always the difference between a Ph D and an Ed D was
the language requirement
J And you said it was a boring summer
H Yes It was all translation The class really did not do very much conversation All I did the
whole summer was German [translation], and it was just too much It was an extended
summer term, so class was nine weeks, three hours a day And then studying It was awful
J I know you were married November 27, 1953 Where did you live?
H I am trying to think It was in Eaton Rapids, on State Street--215, I think Marjorle was
teaching at Eaton Rapids, so we lived there She could just walk over to school, and I would
drive to Grand Ledge and then over to East Lansing and then back to Eaton Rapids
J How long did you live there?
H Just one year Actually it was not quite a year, because we were married at Thanksgiving
She lived there alone, and then after we were married I moved in Then we moved in June
up to Grand Ledge She got a job at Grand Ledge, too, so we moved there In Eaton Rapids
we lived upstairs above a retired superintendent, a man named Charles Poor, so we started
out in the "Poor house And in Grand Ledge we lived upstairs from a retired superintendent,
a wonderful man named Jonas Sawdon He was kind of an institution in that town In fact,
there is a school named after him now So we lived upstairs there two years Both of them
we rented furnished
J We are up to that point, but we have nothing beyond, so do you want to keep going? Can
you continue from that time, 1953"
H Well, I started teaching in Grand Ledge five-sixths time, but I was still finishing [my degree
program] Then the next year I was doing my dissertation, and I was teaching full time after
that The dissertation involved orchestra concerts for school children by community
orchestras I had played in the Lansing Community Orchestra, the so-called Civic Symphony,
and we always did some children's concerts that were very well attended It struck me that
that was an interesting topic to study There were a number of community orchestras in
Michigan in modest-sized cities such as Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson, Flint, Ann Arbor,
and Lansing, so I went around and interviewed people about what they were doing and had
done with regard to concerts for school kids I would come home from school, get in the car
and drive to some place like Ann Arbor, and interview people It was work It was hard I
graduated just before everything was being put in University Microfilms, so it is not real easy
to get a copy of my dissertation I think if I were doing that today I could do that so much
better [laughter] It [my dissertation] is not really very good
J I am sure it is great
H Sometimes I can be very stubborn I decided that we would not buy a TV set until the first
draft of my dissertation was completed Television was just coming in in Lansing It had
been in the East [for some years] I remember seeing a TV in Philadelphia one time when
the [MSU] band went there on a trip We all went into a bar to see what a television looked
like, because we had never seen it I said, 'Well, I do not want to get distracted until I get the
dissertation done" I wrote it in longhand, and then Marjorle typed it Of course, [she was
working with] an old manual machine Today it seems so hard to type on those things She
was really super She fixed up some of my little mistakes I turned in the first draft to Dr Sur,
and we went out that weekend and bought a TV set The date was very easy to remember,
because when it came the delivery ticket [was dated] 5/5/55 A coincidence like that will
happen only every eleven years where all the numbers will be the same Then I defended
[my dissertation] August of 1955, at the end of the summer session So I really had done all
the work and completed the degree in 1955 As I said, it was a new program for Michigan
State The Department of Music had just started offering a doctorate, and I think I was the
first one to finish the Ph D program There were some other students who were starting at
that time Of course, since then there have been quite a few
J What was the name of that degree?
H Doctor of Philosophy
J In music?
H Yes Candidates had to complete two minors I took higher education as one minor, and that
was with the School of Education I took music history as the other minor
J So when was the actual date of this degree?
H I do not know what day they put down, but it was August 1955 I kept thinking that when I
finished my degree I would be drafted [in the army]
J Was this still the Korean War?
H Yes, it was still going on [American military involvement in the Korean conflict ended in
1953 The draft continued until the 1970s Ed ] I figured, Well, it surely is going to happen
now, because I am all done with school The was went a lot further than I thought [it would]
I went down in the middle of the year and joined the Michigan National Guard I figured I
would have status as a bandsman [if I were drafted] I was assigned certain duties I thought
I would go in as a bandsperson, then I would not end up doing something else But the
Korean War had virtually stopped
All we had to do was go down once a week to drill We were the band down in Lansing It
was just a pathetic little group, really In the summer of 1955 I kept expecting a letter saying,
"Greetingsl" Marjorle was not too thrilled about all this because [she and] her family are
pacifists They do not believe in fighting But I thought at least I would have the Michigan
I went up to guard camp at Grayling, Michigan, for two weeks, which was an experience I
was the only one in the band who had completed college, and I think even one of the few that
had even gone to college I never told them I had a doctorate I just thought, Oh, that is too
much Even though I was the lowest rank, private, I was conducting because no one else
knew how to conduct I was not the drum major They had other people for that, but I
conducted [otherwise] I was in charge then, but, boy, the rest of the time I was not in charge
Grayling was a very nice place, very pretty If it had not been for the National Guard it would
have been quite enjoyable
I got home [from camp], and still no letter had came The school year started, so I did
another school year In those days the school district could also request that you not be
drafted, so the superintendent sent a letter [making that request]
The next year I thought, Surely it will happen now By the next summer Marjorle was
expecting We had been married three years and wanted to start a family Well, I never was
drafted I was in the Guard until we moved to Buffalo, New York, in the summer of 1956
J Why did you move?
H I went to work [in Buffalo] with the State University [of New York (SUNY), at] what they called
College for Teachers All public higher education in New York state [is part of the SUNY
system] There were really two institutions in Buffalo The University of Buffalo in those days
was a private school, a lot like [the University of] Miami [is in Florida It had] a very weak,
little music department Everybody who went to the teachers college was in education You
could not major in music there, though You went to [the campuses at] Potsdam or Fredonia
to major in music You came to Buffalo to major in art or elementary education or industrial
arts or another area that I have forgotten But the big one was elementary [education] We
offered a lot of elementary courses I got into college teaching then, and I was also teaching
about two-thirds of the time in the Campus School They had a lab school that went through
ninth grade, and I did an instrumental program there and also junior high and middle school
J What was the name of it?
H It was the Campus School at College for Teachers I was there three years, and I had a rank
of an associate professor, which was pretty good On the other hand, that was not a major
institution Allan, our son, was born in March of 1957 His names is Charles Allan If we
were to do it again [name a child] we would not do that, because he says that so many times
people get confused about his name We did not think it was all that hard, but he says,
"When you go by your middle name it is not so easy"
After three years there I heard about a job at St Louis County, Missouri, for what they called
director of music, to head the music program in the school district That sounded nice I was
called there for an interview, and I went It was really a super school district It was one of
these rare school districts that does things the way they should be done They had very good
financial resources because it was the county seat of St Louis County Clayton [a suburb
just west of St Louis] had lots of big office buildings, and they generated revenue No
children came from there It also turned out to be a disadvantage in the sense that it was
completely surrounded by othertowns Clayton could not get any larger, and more expensive
apartments were going up, places where families with children could live We were actually
losing population because of the way the county was going We stayed there seven years
The man who was the superintendent had been a vice-principal of a private boys school in
Concord, New Hampshire, St Paul's School
J What was his name?
H Francis Lloyd He had been an English teacher, and he really thought, What are we doing to
educate the kids? He was a super guy to work for You would go in with an idea, and he
would say, "Gee, that is great" He left about my fifth year to be the director of pre-colleglate
education at the University of Chicago He ran the lab school at the University of Chicago
and some other programs We brought in another person [as superintendent] who was good
I got along with him fine After seven years [however] I felt I had done what I could do I
could see the district was not getting any bigger
I had given a talk at the MENC [Music Educators National Conference] student chapter at
Indiana University, and I got a letter a few weeks later saying that they would like to have me
come back for an interview I was hired then in 1966 at Indiana University
J As what?
H I was an associate professor in music education
J What were your responsibilities?
H I taught a secondary methods course that all the students had to take I also taught a
graduate course in tests and measurements A couple of years later the man who had been
doing the research course, William Sears, left for the University of Kansas, and I started
teaching that course I was not terribly good at it, and I scrambled like crazy to do that So
for about the last sixteen years I was there I taught that It was a two-semester course in
research in music education People retired [over the years] Dr [Thurber] Madison retired,
and I started teaching foundations of music education I probably taught that the last dozen
years I was there
J You had to teach that before you had written your book?
H Yes I wish I had had the book That is one of the reasons we wrote the book [Foundations
of Music Education, 1984] There was only one other book out [one by Leonard and House]
I used it once and the students complained [about it], and I decided that it was wasting their
money One thing led to another I did teach, at my own request, one section of music
appreciation, and from about 1975 on I got to do that It sort of opened up once, and I kept
on doing that
J Do you like it?
H Yes, that was my "fun" course The students in that course really ask different questions
They have different interests, and some of them get really turned on in a way that music
majors do not, because it is all new to them One boy I remember was so fascinated about
how Beethoven could write a symphony when he was deaf He even wanted to write a little
term paper on the topic He was a little guy from New Jersey, and he went around and read
some reference books When he turned in his paper he said, "Dr Hoffer, if you would like to
use any of this in one of your books, that is okay [laughter] I said thanks
J How did you keep from laughing?
H Oh, he was sweet He did influence me in one way, though In the appreciation book I have
little sidebars, little boxes of information, and I finally wrote one on Beethoven and his
deafness I figured if that was that interesting, [I needed to include it] I wrote to the
Beethoven museum in Bonn Maybe you have been there They have a couple of his ear
trumpets, and I asked, "Can I get a picture of one of his ear trumpets?" Then I ran a picture
of it [In the sidebar] It is a fascinating story when you think about it
Anyway, I would always teach one section [of music appreciation] With the research and the
foundations [courses], sometimes I was only doing graduate courses during me last years at
Indiana I always wished I could teach one undergraduate course, too I stayed there [at
Indiana] eighteen years, until 1984
J When did you become a full professor?
H [That was in] 1970, I think
J Why did you decide to leave?
H There were a number of reasons There was no one reason for doing something like that
One of them was, the School of Music was getting to be a conservatory We had some very
prestigious performers, such as Josef Gingold and Menachim Pressler Josef Gingold is a
great, premier violin teacher today He is seventy-five years old Menachim Pressler
performs with the Beaux Arts Trio We had some terrific people They had all been there a
long, long time Most of them went there when Dean [Wilfred] Bain was dean People of that
quality [taught there] Janos Starker teaches cello there There were a number of "name"
performers, and I think that is where the interest was Obviously the opera, too [The
University of] Indiana has probably the best collegiate opera [program] in the world The
academic areas were always sort of "bringing up the tall," and it was really [distressing]
Then when Bain retired around 1974 Charles Webb replaced him, and the School of Music
got more and more into performance Nothing was getting any better [for music education] I
felt that we were "beating our heads on the wall "
[Another reason why I decided to leave was] our children were grown by 1984, and they were
living away [from home], so there was nothing [to keep us there] Marjorie was teaching in
the schools, and each year that assignment got tougher She had four schools, then it went
to five schools, then six schools, and that was getting to be no fun, running around more and
more teaching the string program She said, "I sure don't care So I thought I would look
around, and this job [at Florida] came up
That year was [rather slight for major music education positions] There was an opening at
the University of Arizona, but I am not sure they were very serious about getting the best
person Anyway, I came down [here] and interviewed They did interview someone else, too,
then They piddled around, and finally in May 1984 the job came through
Another reason for moving is that in Indiana the projections were that the state would have
about 20 percent fewer students graduating from high school in 1990 Florida would have 25
percent more students graduating from high school in 1990 It is obvious what that means for
the schools That area of the country has just had a tough go The Midwest has lost so
many industrial plants One of the big employers in Indiana, of course, is automobile
[companies] They do not make the automobiles there, but they make all the parts Autolite
and all those were there, and they were losing jobs Even though they maybe make as many
things as they used to, it is mostly done by automation They are not employing that many
people You can go by the steel mills up around Gary now, and half of them are closed
down So I thought there was a lot more future here
There is also the ego thing about [your work, the feeling that] you are making a difference If
you are in a job and are not making any difference, it is not so much fun If you think, This
school has a long way to go, but maybe I can make a difference, you feel more positive about
it I felt like I was not making any difference in Indiana During the time that Charles Webb
was dean, the ten years that I worked under him, each time a new book [of mine] would come
out I would send him a copy I think maybe eight books came out in that time After about
the seventh book I realized he had never said anything I never got a [thank you] note back
or anything It was not even mentioned in the little "blurb" sheet that he sends out with news
items of the department I finally went in to see his secretary and said "Dean Webb has had
the book four or five months Is he going to mention it? If he does not care, he might as well
give me the book back, because I only get six free copies I have to buy the rest" The
secretary said "Oh, he wants it He wants it" (She was very loyal [to the dean] ) Finally I
got in the news sheet When the last one we authored [Harold Abeles, Charles Hoffer, and
Robert Klotman] while at Indiana came out, the Foundations [of Music Education] book, we
decided to send him only the ad We figured, If he cannot even bother to say thanks, then
forget it I got the feeling I was not making a difference, and that was not good
As people retired or left, we tended to replace them with some of our own graduates You
can do that a little bit sometimes with very exceptional students, but it is not really the way to
build a [quality] faculty They made that a regular practice because we could get them
without paying a lot of money He had a lot more money to work with than we do down here
Menachim Pressler makes a salary that would turn you green, probably $60,000 for the
academic year, just a nine-month year But he figures that a faculty member like him has a
great reputation as a teacher, too I guess it is deserved Then he is doing all this work with
the Beaux Arts [Trio], and he is a terrific "ad" for the school Menachim is worth it, perhaps I
am just sorry that more people cannot get salaries like that The dean was putting his money
into the performance areas, that was obvious I think that is what he was interested in, what
he understood, and what he believed in So it was just a feeling of making a difference, of
getting more satisfaction, of doing something different
Probably I should have looked around before I did, but I did not want to move while the
children were still in school That is hard on them We moved once when Martha was just
short of seven and Allan had just turned nine Her first question when she found out we were
moving to Indiana was, "Can I have a birthday party?" Her birthday was in September, and
she was obviously thinking [she would miss out], so we made sure she had a party We have
a picture of it, with all the little neighbor girls over there, all in white anklets It is a really cute
picture It is kind of significant, because that was one of her first concerns I think when high
school kids move it is not so easy So I did not really look then I was fairly content
But some of the circumstances at Indlana were not good Music ed majors did not study with
a faculty teacher until their junior year, sometimes not even then, and that always bothered
me Now, we had some good grad assistants, but it is not good for a music major to study
with an assistant It ought to be a faculty member, I think Here [at UF] there was no doubt
that a student would study with a faculty member [That is the case] in most schools But it
was not like that at Indiana And nobody worried much about it It happened more in piano
and voice than any other field There were just not enough teachers Few people were
worrying much about what the music ed students were getting [in applied music] Some of
the instructors should not have been grad assistants Besides, they were changing teachers
about every year That is not the way to go
I think we treat the students a lot better here They do not know it They think every place is
like it is here If a student comes in here, like someone that plays oboe, he has more
opportunities to play than he wants At a school like Eastman or Indiana you may get to play
half the concerts You have to share [the opportunities] with somebody I remember at
Eastman I was on the A list of personnel or the B list We only played half the concerts
There were more winds than the orchestras could use I do not know if that was true of
strings, but it sure was true of the woodwinds and brasses Around here you are going to
play a lot So there were a number of things like that [that prompted me to move on]
I had met Dr [Budd] Udell [chairman, Department of Music] at a [National Association of
Schools of Music] meeting [in Dearborn, Michigan], and we had dinner I liked him very
much I just had a good feeling about him There are not many schools that will go out and
hire a full professor and pay a competitive salary A lot of places would like to do it, but they
cannot because financially they cannot swing it, or when it comes down to it they do not really
want to do that, or they have faculty there who are thinking, If we bring in somebody who is
really good, I am going to be compared with them They never say this aloud, but you know
that is in their thinking In a lot of schools the faculty resist bringing in anybody who is strong
That may not be true at Weber [College in Ogden, Utah] where you are
J We do not have the money, anyway [laughter]
H When it comes down to it, a lot of faculty wonder, Where does this leave me? and they start
thinking, Why should I make myself look bad? Why should I try to compete with (some
big name)? It gets down to self-survival If a new position opens up, they want someone who
will go in at the assistant or associate level and then work up As I said, Arizona started out
sounding like they wanted a full professor, too, but they hired some [relative] unknown I
figured they did not really mean that A lot of times they [search committees] start writing job
qualifications like "walks on water," but they do not follow through There really are only
about one or two really good positions at the senior professor level that open up each year,
so I was pleased when things worked out here This is realistically as about as well as I am
going to do, and so far I have been really pleased
Some things are lacking I told Dr [Joel] Stegall [chair, Department of Music] that our main
problem at the undergraduate level is we do not have enough students, and our main
problem at the graduate level is we do not have enough students I told him, "In general, we
do not have enough students" I wish we had more Maybe it is just because I came out of
the world's largest [music major] factory
J It seems like a lot to me
H At Indiana we had a 1,000 undergraduates A lot of the graduate students were not there all
year, but there are probably 400 on campus [during the year] We probably had 1,400 there
plus 200 working on dissertations or in and out of school So you could run a specialized
course like tests and measurements and fill a class That is hard to do in a school like this
That is the advantage [of going to a department with a large student enrollment] You need
just enough students to get what is called "critical mass" I really miss that here We just do
not have quite enough We are beginning to get a little bit [stronger] in piano Students learn
from each other We are a little bit off the interview, but you get a couple kids like Ling-Lin
Shih and the other students start noticing There is a difference in attitude You can tell I
was here one year without Boaz [Sharon, assistant professor in piano], and what a difference
he has made The kind of students he brings in [breeds success] The difference is like night
and day In part it is because once you get one good student and another one and another
one, it just sort of changes I wish we could get that to happen in more areas We will keep
plugging away at it
J This is a continuation of the interview with Dr Charles Hoffer Today is Tuesday, February
17, 1987 Dr Hoffer, we need to back up for just a minute You mentioned that your son
Charles Allan was born March 7, 1957
J Where does he live now?
H Seymour, Indiana He is a high school English teacher in about his eighth year He has his
master's in education, but the last three years he has been going to law school at night at
Indiana University, the campus at Indianapolis
J This is his third year there?
H Right He is in his third year
J And he has two children?
H Andrew Allan, who is called Drew, was five in January of this year And then Kendall Renee
was two and a half She was born in the summer of 1984 His wife is named Donna
J You said your daughter was born two years later
H September 23, 1959, in St Louis We had just moved to St Louls when she was born
J Where is she living now?
H Fayetteville, North Carolina She had a little boy on January 5, 1987 Her husband is doing
residency in family practice He is in his second year He has one more year of that
J And the little boy's name is Lucas Latham
J Now, what I would like to ask about is your books, because you are internationally recognized
for everything that you have done and are doing First of all, how many books have you
written, Dr Hoffer?
H Well, this is a question depending a little bit on how you count it I think nineteen going on
twenty Two of the books contain a lot of overlap Teaching Music in the Secondary Schools
(1973) and Introduction to Music Education (1983) So whether you call that a new book can
go either way
J When did you publish your first book?
H [The first one was Teaching of Music in the Secondary Schools, which carries a copyright of]
1964 It came out in April But we actually turned the manuscript in in July of 1963 and
signed a contract for it in September of 1962 So the first copyright date is 1964
J Would you tell us the names of the books that you have done?
H Well, the first one was Teaching of Music in the Secondary Schools At the time I wrote it a
lot of people were using a book called High School Music that Dykema and Gerhkins had
done It was written in 1941, and it was very out of date There was a methods book by a
man named [Arthur] Ward who taught up in New Jersey Those books did not get down to
being really helpful in the way I thought they should So that was the first one That is now in
its third edition
The next one was The Understanding of Music (1967), which is an appreciation text at the
freshman/sophomore level and for general students It carries a copyright of 1967 and is now
in its fifth edition The next one was a book that complemented it, or was part of a package
with The Understanding of Music, called Scored for the Understanding Music (1969) It
contains line scores of a number of works that were in that major book It required quite a lot
of work copying whole movements of symphonies into the line scores
J Is that the one you did with Marjorle?
H I did this one with Marjorle, my wife Then Performing Music with Understanding [--Orange
Material and Activities for the Organized Learning of Musically Significant Information in the
Rehearsal, 1970, --Green 1971] was two books that I did in a paper cover with a man in
a neighboring school district in St Louis County [Donald K Anderson] These books were for
students in high school performing organizations and were intended for them to learn basic
things about theory and music and music literature, information such as what is theme and
variation, what is a dominant chord, and so on We did them in program style in which the
reader responds to an item and then moves on to the next item, where they find if their
previous answer was correct We called one book Orange and the other Green There was
no sequence whatsoever, we did not want to give a title which said Book One and Book Two
or anything like that In a way I think that was one of the more imaginative things that I have
been involved with However, it was not very successful for a number of reasons One
reason is, I think, that we were about three steps ahead of the market in the sense of trying to
do something that was so different and so advanced Also, Wadsworth not a school
publisher, they are a college publisher They were going into the school business very big,
but then they had some experiences that sort of discouraged them from doing that I still do
not know if that would have made any difference
Then in 1973 A Concise Introduction to Music Listening [was published] It is a
non-chronological appreciation book for the general student It was in paper cover, shorter,
and included more listening types of activities In 1976 Marjorle and I wrote a book called
Basic Musicianship for Classroom Teachers It is spiral bound because it is the kind of thing
you would want as a workbook It contained two soundsheet records Oftentimes class time
was so short we felt that this would allow the students time to practice singing songs or doing
some of those things [on their own] That came out in 1976 That will finally go out of print
when they run out, because to reorder soundsheets now is so expensive They used to be
relatively inexpensive, but the executives said the price has gone up so much it is almost
more than the reprints of the book itself So I am not sure what we will do with that yet That
has been only modestly successful
Then in 1982--actually it carries a 1983 copyright--Marjorle and I wrote a book called
Teaching Music in the Elementary Classroom [which was published by] Harcourt, Brace, and
Jovanovich They do not do as much in music as I would hope, and I do not think they push
the book very well We have done a revision which came out about two months ago We
dropped the word "teaching" and just call it Music in the Elementary Classroom We put
some of the fundamentals and notations in little boxes, or sidebars, in that book, too We will
see if that sells a little better We sort of combined them [music fundamentals and teaching
methods] like the University of Florida combined them into one course [Fundamentals and
methods formerly had been two courses Ed ] A lot of schools have done this
I wrote Foundations of Music Education with Harold Abeles, who is now at Teachers College
at Columbia [University], and Bob Klotman, who has just retired from Indiana This was a
book for the graduate course [of the same name] There was only one other book [for the
course], but I did not feel it was worth buying I tried it once, and the studentsjust [did not like
it at all] So Foundations was a "labor of love," because that is a very specialized course
We knew we were not going to make a lot of sales on that, but we just had a lot of fun doing
something we thought was worthwhile It has been very successful in terms of the market,
although I guess it is not a very big market We wrote it by assigning chapters [to each of us],
and then we critiqued each other's chapters and make additions and things like that
Introduction to Music Education carries a 1983 copyright, too That is the one for which, like I
said, we took a lot of things out of Teaching Music in the Secondary Schools that I thought
were useful, and I added four new chapters So it makes a book that is probably two-thirds
cannibalized from a previous book, but parts of it are new It has been fairly successful We
are not quite to the point of doing a revision on that When you total all that together, I guess
it is nineteen or so [books]
J And you said you have a book that you are working on now
H Right This is a high school book The contract says we are not supposed to go talking about
it, so I will not mention the name of the publisher They want to keep things from the
competition We were surprised when that was in the contract Anyway, that is their
At least half the states in the Union now have graduation requirements in the fine arts, so
many students are going to take some kind of fine art to graduate Many states require two
units--at least on the books they do I think Utah is one of them Now, I do not know whether
or not this is enforced In California, New York, and Florida a lot of music teachers know
what to do with a choir or band They are not at all sure what to do with a high school student
who is not in choir or band or in orchestra There is no material So we have this opportunity,
somewhat legislated or mandated, to reach many more of the students who are not currently
in music The performing groups [involve only] 10 to 15 percent [of the student body] at the
high school level It depends a little on the situation, of course Small schools have higher
percentages than large schools because they have to, I guess If you are going to have a
band you had better get more kids out of the whole school So we have this terrific
[There are] no materials [however], and the publisher realizes that there is at least a decent
market there We have a chance to strike a real blow here for learning music A lot of people
are not being touched now, and we are trying to think up [ways to get them involved in
music] This is not easy, because we are probably writing for sophomores who are not very
motivated or even very able academically I assume we are probably unconsciously still
writing at a senior level, but I also assume the editors will tell us if our sentences get too long
[We are] writing a lot of things to involve the students and trying to think of imaginative ways
to do that That is really the challenge of this book It is not the factual material, because that
is pretty easy [We are] trying to present information and activities in a way that assures
success for the teacher so they can teach the course even if they do not know a lot about it or
have not taken time to prepare Time is limited [for most music teachers] They are working
J When do you think that book will be published?
H I think next spring We have asked them for more detail The manuscript for the student
book is due April 1 and for the teacher book July 1, and I would assume that this would be out
in April or so of 1988 That sounds a long way away
J You mentioned earlier that your dad had written a book
H Yes He did a rural sociology textbook around 1929, and he revised it in 1934 That was a
pretty specialized subject, and also in those days college enrollments were just a fraction of
what they are today He got enough money in royalties to pay the typist Of course, he did
not do it for the money So when I started out [writing books] I really did not have any
expectation of making a lot of money But it has paid me in a way that I never expected It
has been a nice [income] supplement for over twenty-two years now When I received my
first royalty check in September  I was still in debt for some corrections, something like
$220 But the next one got me out of debt Of course, the biggest sellers are the
appreciation books simply because there are many more students Royalties are partly a
function of how many students out there nationally take a course Foundations [courses] are
so few, but appreciation [courses enroll] a lot of students nationally, maybe 250,000 students
or so a year
J Do you pretty much revise those books every year?
H No, not every year Nobody could stand that The publisher would like me to do that every
three to four years I have revised them at either four- or five-year intervals Used copies are
a very big business Used book dealers are now computerized They have salesmen who
work this all year and make a fair living, from $25,000 to $30,000 a year, just going around
and buying books for professors In fact, they have visited even mel I think the idea is that
the guy just goes up and knocks on every door in the hall They pull the truck up at the
bookstores in the spring and fall I have not seen it here, but I have seen it at Indiana They
actually had a truck, and they just bought the books and tossed them into the truck It is a
very profitable business Of course, a used sale means no new sale, so sales for your
second year of market life are around 50 percent of what they were the first year If you
made $10,000 the first year, you can expect $5,000 the next and roughly about a 50 percent
cut each year thereafter That is why companies encourage revisions They just clear all of
the used books off the shelves If you have a used book out, that clears that title
[Used books do not matter so much with specialty books such as] Teaching Music in
Secondary Schools When students buy books in their major they are much more likely to
keep them Just like if you bought Men, Women, and Pianos [by Arthur Loesser] you would
keep that If you bought a psychology book, you would not keep it
J How about Foundations of Music Education? I would probably keep that, too
H Well, that is your major I did not keep my English literature book from my freshman year
You cannot lug all those books around, and you are not going to read it again in the same
way I think the only book I kept was art history, and I kept a world history and civilization
book That was very, very good, and I still have it Anyway, keeping textbooks is not the
J What is your favorite book that you have written?
H That really depends on what you are looking for Teaching Music in the Secondary Schools
was, of course, the initial bookthat I wrote I think that was totally written out of a felt need for
the market It presented a lot of things that were not in other books Sentimentally that is my
favorite The most attractive is The Understanding of Music I tried to produce the most
attractive, well-written, interesting, and so on [music book], because we were competing with
some pretty attractive books We did a lot of things, like very nice picture reproduction and
lay-out design I really yell and scream and do all I can [to have that quality in a book] I
cannot control everything, of course Maybe they included them because I yelled consistently
enough They used what they call one point more of leading between lines This spreads the
type a little bit and gives a book a lot more quality look It does not look like they are trying to
squeeze a lot on the page Color plates and a nice design and a very nice cover [are
important, too] Many people are going to buy those books [based] on their first impression
Remember, it is the professor who buys the book, who decides what book to use The
student pays for it
We have done market surveys for music appreciation, and, believe it or not, there are people
teaching music appreciation to non-majors--freshman and sophomores--using Donald Grout's
History of Western Music Some professors have a very poor idea of what is going through
the students' minds, but I think they are influenced if the students come up and say, "Gee, I
find this interesting And if they feel they are successful [with the course] I think that helps
But some professors do not have much sense of what students are thinking There are music
appreciation books written that are not very different from Grout, and you could almost use
them for music history [for music majors] Probably not the ones you have heard of anymore
There was a Princeton professor a few years ago named Levy who wrote a very beautiful
music history, but he was trying to peddle it as an appreciation book It had maybe
seventy-five pages on pre-Renaissance music This is not the thing for the general student
We do not need to teach those students about the monophonic conductus That is OK for
music history majors, [but not for non-majors They need to learn about music they will hear ]
You have to figure, What is it that a non-major is likely to hear? They will hear very little
pre-Baroque music Maybe it should not be that way, but that is the way it is They will hear
a few [Renaissance] pieces They maybe have heard the word motet at some time or
another and madrigal because they have gone to a madrigal dinner At least they should
know what those things are That is just a part of their general knowledge But I thinkwe can
forget about the monophonic conductus and the hypomixolydlan mode and a lot of those
kinds of things [for non-majors] Forget about it
Anyway, back to the question about my favorite [book], I think it is sort of what you are
looking for for the course, because with each one you want to do the best you can You do
not start out writing a book thinking, This will not go You think it will go or you would not do
it The Performing Music [with Understanding] books in some ways are my favorites in the
sense of the imagination that went into it So for different reasons I have different books that I
J How long do you usually spend writing a book?
H It depends on how much really new material [it contains] One of the things you do learn after
going through this again and again is how to be more efficient with yourtime I can anticipate
things now that I could not on the first try
H Well, you can tell somewhat how it all is going to fit in, and you do not have so many wasted
efforts It is sort of like being put in one of these fancy garden labyrinths in English gardens in
the eighteenth century, for instance if you know your way out, it does not take very long If
you do not, you run around going into all sorts of false paths The first time through you tend
to make a lot of false starts You write things you do not need and waste a lot of time Now I
know, and I can be more efficient I started work on Teaching Music in the Secondary
Schools in September, and it was very hard to get that ready by July 1 Now I could do that
more quickly It also depends on how many interruptions I have and how much vacation
time I have By the way, I can only do so much a day Even if I have nothing else, you just
go bananas [working at the same task all day]
J Do you pretty much write all the time?
H Yes There is almost always something at least as a prospect That does not mean [I write]
every day Sometimes several weeks go by before I really do a thing on my own personal
books Sometimes I work on MENC [Music Educators National Conference] matters, or other
things come up It is not that I do a little every day It does turn out like that a lot of days in
the year I am doing something on it I think there may be two things that I can do [I can
work on a book ahead of when it is due] If a book is due, say, next summer, I can work very
hard on it in January I do not have to have my "back to the wall" in order to make myself do
[The other thing I can do is] work on it when I have time [For example,] I do not mind
working on a book on a Saturday night Lots of people ask, "How can you do that?" Well, it
may have been that I went out Thursday night That does not really bother me So I do not
need to be motivated I can work on something even when there is not an immediate need I
have what I call a "reverse manana" [tomorrow] theory, which is, "Whatever I do today I do
not have to do tomorrow" Instead of putting something off and thinking, I can do this
tomorrow, [I get to it], because sometimes you get down toward the end and you have three
chapters left [to do by the end of] the week, and you are not going to make it
I have a very good record with publishers Wadsworth has done most of my books It is the
first publisher I signed with [I have a good reputation for] getting manuscripts in on time
Their editors say most manuscripts come in quite late, and they sort of expect that We were
about twelve days late on the first one, and we almost called them long distance to ask if it
was all right We have since told them that story, and they just died laughing But it took
longer to type a good copy [than we expected] It is just a lot of work Anyway, I think you
have to have that if you are going to do long pieces, like books For a magazine articles that
is not so You can do that in a short time
J Did Wadsworth get jealous when you went to other publishers? Why did you go to other
H Well, in the mid 1970s they had a number of changes in personnel Changes in the business
world seem to happen much faster than they do in education Education is just a way of life
that is very different [from the business world] For Basic Musicianship for Classroom
Teachers we had enormous production problems We wrote that book in about eight or ten
months, and it spent another twenty-two months in production They had the photographic
setting of the music, and it took five times sending that back to get it right They had
problems aligning the words [of the songs] and the notes above them You know, the note
above the word should be in the middle If it is not you will notice it We are so used to
seeing it right There were lots of things like that It was very poorly done We just had a lot
of problems Plus they did not consider it a big market book, which is probably true, so they
were busy with other things, and they pushed it to the end of the line That is one reason it
took so long We did not like that very well, so we were motivated to try somebody else
When you sign a contract for a book like Teaching Music in the Secondary Schools, you are
obligated to stay with that publisher on the subject of teaching music in the secondary
schools You just cannot decide afterthe first edition to write another book on teaching music
in the secondary schools and going with some other publisher The contract prohibits that,
and you can understand why they would not want that You are obligated to do your
revisions with them So it is not a case where you can just pick up and move
Now, [if you were writing a book] on a new topic, you can pick up and move, so for
Elementary Music Methods we [Marjorle and I] could pick up and move I cannot do that with
the others Things have been better now, but there had been some rocky years I do not
know [the specifics, but a few years ago] Wadsworth had a lot of in-house problems, and they
did not do very well for a while I feel a little better about it now than, say, from 1975 to 1980,
when they just were not doing very well That was part of the reason we looked at other
We talked a little bit about the Foundations book with Wadsworth, and they said that is was
not a big market book, but they were willing to take it for half royalties That did not sit very
well [with the three of us], so we kept looking Schirmer Books of Macmillan does a lot of
things in music education, and their editor expressed an interest, so we figured, Why not?
Bob Klotman handled contacts with publishers and all that
J How many times did editors come up to you and ask you to write for them?
H It happens quite a lot A good editor should do this Once or twice a year that happens The
editor from William C Brown [Company Publishers] called last summer, and she talked a
long time on the phone A lot of times they will say, "If you have anything please let us see
it" Prentice-Hall has called about every five years When I say "a lot" it does not mean I get
calls every week, but at least once or twice a year
J How long is your waiting list for requests of books?
H Well, I really should keep up on the revisions of things that are already published and
successful It is like throwing money away if you do not keep that up And I want to If the
book is doing pretty well I want to keep it doing well It is kind of like playing "king of the
mountain" when you are a kid So it is not that I have a list of things waiting
The book for high school general music sort of came up One of my co-authors on it really
spearheaded the idea, and he did the contacts with the publishers It also seemed like such
an important and useful thing, and I think that swayed me I really did not have time to do
that this year, but I decided that I am going to make time I have to be careful how much I
commit myself and plan my time now, because next year is when I am MENC president
I assume there will not be many new [assignments for books], because I think I have written
on what I am competent to write on I am not going to write a music history, and I am not
going to write a music theory book, because, while we all know some things about that, to
write you really should know a lot more than that I do not And I just do not feel motivated
J How many books have you been writing at one time? What was the maximum number?
H Well, I suppose the summer of 1983 [was my busiest] I did not teach that summer, and I
was finishing Introduction to Music Education, which was partly a bookthat had already been
written, and some supplementary materials on one of the appreciation books Maybe that
1982 It has been about two or three years [ago] Remember, on these appreciation books
there is a package that goes with it There are five or six LPs that we do with CBS records,
formerly Columbia Records There is an instructor's manual It is a freebie that is given
away It has all sorts of help for the instructor There is a student study guide and scores
that go along with it, too We also give a little freebie book away as kind of a promotion about
attending public performances [It includes tidbits like] not talking while the music is being
played, putting a necktie on to go to a concert, etc It is just a practical little thing that I wrote
for them Even at a sophisticated place like the University of Florida students will walk in the
hall in the middle of a number Some students talk, they are actually telling each otherthings
to write down because apparently they [have to write a concert report] for a music class
If I have two projects going I will spend several weeks on one and not even think about the
other, because I cannot alternate very well Maybe some people can do it, but I cannot do it
that way I tell myself that I am going to finish this up when I reach a certain point Then I will
switch back and think of something else
J Do you do a lot of revisions in your writing?
H Yes, I do I talked about that on the tape yesterday The first copy now I do on just plain old
yellow legal paper on a typewriter That copy is pretty messy, because I markthat all myself
I go through that with a pencil, and it is filled with scribbles and little notes There is almost
no type It is just as bad as a Beethoven manuscript, let me tell you Then the next time I do
it on nice white paper, and it looks better At that point if I can--usually I can do this, but with
the last chapter I cannot--I put it away and do not even look at it for a month or six weeks
Then I read it again At that point I try very hard to be objective and critical Am I really
saying what I want said here? How does this look to somebody who is reading this for the
first time? The question is not only, Do I like it? The next step is the one that makes the
difference It is very hard [for me] to be really objective about my own stuff But one of the
reasons for putting material away for several weeks is it enables me to review it more
objectively There are things that have appeared in books, and I will look at them two years
later and think, That is not very good Why did I say that? It could be said so much better
Backing away [from what I have written] helps a lot Sometimes I do not always have the
luxury of leisurely contemplating [what I wrote]
J What do you do when you make the recordings for you books?
H That is fun I can pick anything in the CBS [listing] I buy a Schwann Record and Tape
Catalogue, and I can use anything that is CBS In addition, certain [other] labels can be
leased CBS will pay a fee Of course, this eventually goes back to Wadsworth or the buyer
We used to be able to lease from Mercury, but it was sold now to Polydor, which is called
DGG in London, and we cannot get those anymore But we can use Vanguard and a number
of smaller labels, plus CBS There is one more from England, Angel, I think Anyway, I figure
out how long something is, and CBS will send me copies, or I get them out of a library I time
what I am interested in--the first movement of this is so many minutes--and I just put together
[a program] I usually make up a file card on each piece and keep shuffling them until I can
get the maximum amount of [music on] each side, which is twenty-five to twenty-six minutes
I indicate that on record one, side A I want this piece by a certain performer I give them the
catalogue number, and they put it together All those recordings are off extant recordings
There was a little while when [Leonard] Bernsteln did not want his recordings put on a
collection-type album Now he is permitting it again [His refusal to grant permission] did not
really matter too much, because I just switched to [Eugene] Ormandy and the Philadelphia
[Orchestra] CBS had a lot of those [recordings] Actually, I really liked Ormandy's stuff
better, so I have gone back to very few of Bernstein's [recordings]
The biggest part [of my job] is to convince Wadsworth to do a record album They
understand books, they do not understand albums Recordings give them a headache
Bookstores do not like albums because they take up a lot space and cost a fair amount
Then some kid opens one and a record is missing, and they do not know what to do It is just
like a defective book, of course it can be returned There is always resistance [from
Now, the company I am working with on this high school book is very different [about
recordings] "Of course we are going to do albums [for that book], and we are going to do
them right" It is such a relief that I do not have to go through that fight this time But with
Wadsworth it is one subject the music editor and I really should not bring up, because we
have had some hard feelings about that Actually, I do not get a lot of money for the albums
Wadsworth wanted to price them like books They look at their figures, and on paper they
believe they are not making any money Of course, they have little investment in them, so
they are doing all right [financially] But every time we go through this I get crocodile tears
from the people at Wadsworth I do not believe it, and they know I do not believe it, yet they
claim it is so The part of doing the album is fun
J But they do not actually make the records
H No, CBS makes them But they make them to our specifications, and says [the album label
states it is made by Columbia] The CBS division is now called CBS Special Products The
buyer gets a six-disc album for about probably two-thirds the [retail] cost, what it would cost
you if you just went down and bought a recording Wadsworth is still making in the
neighborhood of from five to six [dollars] per disc, so it is really a good buy It is exactly the
same with [printed] music
J I asked you the other day about how you get pictures for your books
H I supply the black-and-white material, especially for education books They are things I have
taken or I have had commercial photographers take Sometimes I have used photos from
magazines, and sometimes I can get a black and white Remember in Rochester there was a
photographer named Louis Ouzer? The Igor Stravinsky picture that I have run forever was
[taken by him]
H Stravinsky had come to Rochester around 1962 to do some seminars, and Louis Ouzer took
a lot of pictures They are the best of Stravinsky I had ever seen There is one of him sitting
at a table with his hands in front of him He was seventy-eight at that time Usually the
pictures of Stravinsky make him look like a little freak He just looks awful There are so
many with his glasses up on his forehead, and he just looks weird This one is really nice I
have run that picture many times It is far and away the best one [of Stravinsky] I have ever
seen I just wrote to Ouzer that I had seen the photo in [ an issue of] the Rochester Review,
and he let me have a copy of it for free I just credit him each time So I can do things like
The famous portrait of Mozart by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange, is an unfinished portrait,
part of it is not done at the bottom I am sure you have seen it I found out I could get a copy
of it from the Austrian Travel National Tourists or whatever they call it There are four picture
archives Bettmann Archive in New York is one of the famous ones There is an archive in
the New York Public Library, both at the division down on Thirty-fourth, the main library, and
then out on Amsterdam Avenue, at Lincoln Center The music division is where they have
the main picture files The Library of Congress has a large picture file
J So you have to go there?
H Well, I usually want to go there If I write Bettmann and ask them to send some pictures of
Gian-Carlo Menotti, for example, they will send me some pictures They also charge a
minimum of seventy-five dollars for each one Sometimes it is more For color plates I rent a
transparency from the gallery In the case of [items located in archives in] Europe I would
probably have to use a photo service, because I cannot be certain if I should write in Italian,
for instance It is months getting answers, and I have to send the money in their currency I
had to do this on one picture--I think the one of Beethoven's ear trumpet, I am not sure I had
to send them [the funds in] Austrian shillings, so I went to one of the banks here They have
a way of doing this It will cost you four or five dollars, but they can send a check in Austrian
shillings, it is already converted before it is sent The gallery does not want to have a check
come in in American dollars because then they would have to pay a service fee I can
understand that Actually, the fees are not very large
For college texts I do all searching [for photos] I am the one who selects them Once in a
while I have trouble finding one, and they hire a photo agent, which I assume comes out of
my royalties I have to pay all the fees, but, on the other hand, I get a fairly large royalty
percentage Any costs involved in obtaining permission to use copyrighted music is the
responsibility of the author Now, for the school book we [authors] get much lower royalties,
but the publisher pays all those fees, and they do all of the commission work
J Why does it matter?
H I do not know It is sort of practice In the school book business the publisher reasons that
the more pictures [they use the more copies they will sell], so they do beautiful books In one
way we do not get as much out of that, but, on the other hand, we do not have as much
invested, either I do not know what is fair But the paying of permission is different between
school books and college texts
J Do you prefer writing your own books or collaborating with others?
H When an author can bring to a text something that complements what he is doing, then I think
that is a good idea I mentioned that Hal Abeles was teaching a psychology of music class at
Indiana when we wrote that book [Foundations of Music Education] That is his field--test and
measurements--so he could contribute those chapters a lot more easily and a lot more in the
style than I could [If I had tried to write in that area, I] would have had to do a lot of work,
and maybe I would not have done it as well So I think in that sense it is a very good idea to
I have to be careful, because some people mean well and want to write, but either they do not
have the ability because of self-discipline or whatever it takes to do it Just because they are
good teachers does not mean they are going to be good writers They may be nice people,
but some people just cannot do it So I have to be a little choosy on this or I will get myself
into embarrassing situations
In my wife's case, she was an elementary teacher and a string teacher, and that is a little
different I have asked her to become involved in several books because she has always
helped a lot In fact, one of the books is dedicated to her She worked hard a lot of times and
did not get any credit On these elementary books I think she could sometimes phrase things
in a way that elementary music teachers would want to hear it She is also a string teacher,
which is not exactly the typical elementary thing So I think working with a competent co-
author is fine Otherwise, I am not so sure it is a good idea
J Does she read through all your manuscripts before you submit them?
H She used to, but then when she started teaching full time it was really very hard for her to do
that I was getting better at it She likes editing I would say a third of her suggestions really
helped a lot, a third did not make much difference (they could go one way or another), and a
third I did not agree with and did not accept We did not sit down and discuss them a lot--that
is probably one reason why we are still married She would put her ideas down, and I would
either just take them or leave them There were a few times we sort of "got into it" about what
is there A lot of times it does not matter if you use one word or another Some changes
really were for the better She is very good at writing and editing Her parents were really
into this She is the kind of person who can tell you the grammatical reasons for doing
something, I have forgotten all these kinds of things
J This is the final interview [session] with Dr Charles Russell Hoffer We are in his office on
campus in the Music Building Today is Friday, February 20,1987 It is 10 15 in the morning
Dr Hoffer, you have been talking about your books and the incredible number--nineteen--
that you have written so far In addition, you have told us that there are others that you are
working on Do you find that it becomes much easier and quicker to write now than when you
first started writing in 19647
H Definitely yes and no [laughter] There are certain things you learn how to do that save a lot
of time In that sense it is easier I think there is an irreducible minimum of things you simply
must do every time, and in that sense it is not easier You still have to keep up with the field
by reading all useful material That does not change On the other hand, I have been at it a
long time, and it is not quite as new But I have become more efficient I think that is the
J Before writing your first book, did you write many other things, like articles?
H Yes, not lots of articles, but I did do an article for the Music Educators Journal in the mid
1960s, and I did some other things I did one for a little magazine called Clannet about
improving tone, and I wrote one for Music Journal one time that Sigmund Spaeth paid me
fifteen dollars for Even as a kid [I was into writing] When I was maybe only twelve or so, my
sister and I kind of made up a little play town down in the basement we called
"Basementville"--how originall--and I made up a little newspaper [for the town] and typed a
few issues of that
The first book came out when I was thirty-four, [so I had not done a great deal of writing prior
to that time] Another man who was sort of a choral specialist and I had been trying to get a
book in choral methods published for quite a while, but it was just too specialized for the
market We decided that this book just was not ever going to go Finally about two years
later I decided to try a secondary methods book The idea of a book had been around for a
J Are you ever going to do that choral methods book?
H I do not think I will Subsequently a couple choral methods books have been published Iam
not enough of a specialist to think that I could really do well [in choral methods] Paul Roe at
North Texas State wrote one [Choral Music Education], and [Robert L ] Garretson sort of
touches on one [Conducting Choral Music] That book is in its fourth edition So I do not
think there is the need for me to write one now
J I know that you often have articles come out in various magazines and journals Would you
tell us about the articles that you have written? How many and so on?
H Well, in the last fifteen or so years I have done about one or two a year Because I have
done so much book writing I have not done as many articles as I could have, of course I
have done only a limited number for the Music Ed Journal [MEJ], which may seem
surprising As [MENC] president I will need to write more for it The editor of the MEJ has a
tendency to make changes in articles that are submitted and to fool around with them These
articles, of course, are given free [The authors are not paid for them like they are in
magazines like Atlantic Monthly, for instance] One time they changed the title without telling
mel They entitled my article "The Big K O" The "Big K O" does not mean much I thought it
was an article about a prize fight Of course, the article was about [Zoltan] Kodaly and [Carl]
Orff They made up that title At least I thought they would have the courtesy to come back
and ask if it was all right They just wanted a catchy title
J What was your title?
H I think it turned out to be the subtitle "Kodaly and Orff Approaches How Widely Are They
Used?" When I list it today in any bibliography I always list the subtitle, I never list "The Big K
O" I do not want people to start laughing The MEJ editors have had a tendency to make
changes There have been a number of different editors, and it was kind of a tradition I
figured, Who wants to fight this stuff? So I have not done as many for the MEJ as you might
think simply because I do not want to go through all that trouble Sometimes a talk, like the
one I gave to the International Society of Music Education in Montreux [Switzerland] in 1976,
will be published in a source book It did not start out to be an article, but it is pretty easy to
make a talk into one by making some cuts here and there and a little rewording
J Have you done any critiques?
H Yes Now, there is a list that comes around of doctoral dissertations available for review If
you would like to review one, they will send it to you I have done a number of those More
of them [were written] in the late 1960s and early 1970s than recently I was on the
[research] board then and also had a little more time for it than I have had recently
J On the board of?
H I was on the Board for the Council for Research in Music Education They call their
publication The Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education
J For how many years?
H I think it was a six-year term
H I think 1968-1974 If an article is submitted that is of debatable or doubtful quality, it is
circulated [among the board members] That is really about all they do Almost all of those
were sent when [Richard] Dick Colwell [professor of music education, University of Illinois]
had questions about it [Most of those manuscripts] should not have been published,
because they were very weak But he did circulate them to get the opinions of the people on
that board I think there are six board members So it did not involve a lot of work or a lot of
policy decision It was just simply looking at some marginal manuscripts And they were
J How did you get involved with that? How were you elected?
H Well, I was not elected I think Dick Colwell just asks you One day his secretary called and
asked if I would be on the board That is all there was too it
J Do you have an advice that you would give people who want to write books?
H Yes I conducted a session at [an MENC national meeting in] Anaheim [California] in April of
1986 [on this topic] I think the [first] thing is to write a book because you feel you have
something to put in that book that is not in other books It may be the organization, the
content, the approach, but there needs to be something that will be in the book that is not
available now The idea is not to write a book simply because "my department chairman is
on my back" I think that is true for articles, too If you feel that there is something you want
to say or do, then yes, do it
Next, try to write from the point of view of the students who will read it, in other words, the
view from the "back of the room How does the subject look to them? That is my approach
Sometimes it is the professor who is buying the book for himself This is especially true with
music appreciation and for elementary classroom texts These students do not know a lot
about music What kinds of things are attractive to them? What kinds of things can they
understand? Do not try to write it to impress your colleagues That is not a good practice It
may be a good treatise, but it will not be a good textbook
J As everyone knows, you are currently president-elect of MENC, the Music Educators National
Conference, which is the organization of music educators in this country Would you tell us a
little about how you came into that position?
H I was elected president of the Indiana Music Educators in early 1970 Actually the calendar
years were from 1973 to 1975--you change on New Year's Day I had been giving a number
of talks about things around the state, and I was really tired One time I had not gotten home
until two in the morning [The next morning] I got a call in the office asking if I would run for
[some] office I really was not paying much attention, I guess, because I said, "Okay Sure "
[Several months later] I walked into the state conference [where the voting was done, and
there was a big pasteboard with [pictures of] the candidates on it and the [voting] regions I
thought I was [standing for office] from the southern region (region six or seven), but I
realized I was up for the presidency I was just that surprised Well, I was equally surprised
when I won the election A year or so later the nominating committee asked me to run for the
office of president from the North Central Division [of the MENC] I ran against a city
supervisor from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I won that election I was president from July 1,
1976, to June 30, 1978 The terms on the MENC begin and end in the middle of the year
In each case, including for national president, there is a nominating committee Often it is
chaired by the past president For example, this year there is a nominating committee that
will meet next week Paul Lehman will be the chair of that nominating committee There will
be one representative from each division of MENC--North Central Division is the past
president--and some of the state presidents who are going out of office, and they talk things
over and make nominations Two people are nominated [for each office] I was nominated
and ran for national president in 1982 This was against Paul Lehman, and I lost There is
sort of an unwritten rule that the same person is not nominated again for the next election I
find out a year later that Paul had run [for national president] and lost back in the 1970s I
found out that in 1982 he had done a letter-writing campaigning, which is marginal ethically
So this time people kept asking me, "Are you going to have a letter-writing campaign?" I
worried and fretted about it, and I thought "Look This is a professional association We
should do not do that We do not state positions on issues because we are not sure two
years from now what the issues will be "
Well, the man I ran against, Harry Mamlin, had gotten his doctorate under me He is currently
the city supervisor in Indianapolis He is a very good person He had been North Central
[Division] president Finally Marjorle said, "Why not just call him and both of you agree on no
letters?" I thought about it Finally I called him, and he said, "I do not care if you have a
letter-writing campaign I am not going to do one" And I responded, "Greatl"
Just for people who may not know, the committee gathers a rather complete record [on the
candidates They ask for vitas from persons who have been recommended ] Then they will
meet--this year it will be in Chicago I do not know where they met two years ago when I was
nominated, I think St Louis They spend a couple days going over all the factors, so there is
a careful screening process There is a prohibition against any real out-and-out campaigning,
expending of funds, or things like that A letter-writing campaign is a little bit shaky Is that
agreeable or not?
J And you started this position in July 1988
H Well, you are president-elect for two years--I began July 1986--and then president for two
years--that will be the middle of 1988 to 1990--and then two years as what they call
vice-president (really it is a past-president role), and that will go to the middle of 1992 So it is
a six-year thing In a sense you have two years to get back in the flow When you step in
you do not step in "cold There is some continuity there
J What are your duties now as president-elect?
H Most anything the president asks you to do The main formal duty is that you are chair of
what is called the Council of Associated Organizations--the string teachers, the choral
directors, a couple of band director organizations, the Black Music Caucus, and the
NACWAPI, which is the National [Association of] College Wind Instrument and Percussion
Instructors That is not a very active group, but we want to involve those people I am also
heading a task force on music teacher evaluation, which meets in Atlanta the first weekend in
March, and a task force on professional certification, which I described in [the Foundations]
class and described in the article We are meeting in Washington the first weekend in April
J Now, you created that, did you not?
H Right I proposed that to the Finance Committee and the board, and then it got funded Then
Don [Corbett] said, "Well, you should chair it" But he would have been perfectly free to
appoint anyone else I am also the board representative to the Music Education Research
Council, I am the liaison person Unfortunately they are meeting next weekend in
Washington, and I nor Paul Lehman nor Don can make it We are all busy that weekend
Actually I am not so sure this year that it is so terribly important But there are duties like that
that you are asked by the president to do Obviously, I would preside in the absence of the
president and the usual things that would be written in any constitution But there are no
constitutionally spelled-out duties
J What about when you become president in May?
H Of course, the main thing that you have to do is you have a big national convention that you
have to worry about Second, you have all of the many kinds of things that come in on the
conference the finances of the conference, the management of the conference, all of the
other efforts we do with public relations and things like that In a sense you oversee that in a
policy-making way, but you do not do it We have staff to do some things, and in other cases
you appoint people to do it But in a sense the "buck always stops" with the president during
those two years So I will have to spend more time on that Right now the "buck is stopping"
at Don Corbett, and he may assign some work
J You become president in July of 1988 What is the exact date and where?
H Well, I think they consider July 1 There is always a summer board meeting This year I think
it is going to be July 12-14, along in there The change will take place at that first meeting of
the board, because that is a new board There will be three new divisional presidents
assuming office [at that time] Every other year a new [divisional] president assumes office
They just have a little hand-over-the-gavel ceremony with a lot of jokes
J They do not install you at a big public ceremony where people can go and throw roses at your
H I hope not [laughter]
J When you become president, will you be taking any kind of leave [from your duties here at
the University of Florida]?
H That is something the president can work out with his own institution and the MENC The
MENC reimburses your full salary for one year or upto around 40 or 50 percent of your salary
for two years I think everybody has taken the second option of going on a part-time basis,
and I am pretty sure that is what I will do [The Department of Music may] hire an adjunct or
part-time person or graduate assistants to cover some of the things that I am doing That is
something the department will work out The purpose of the salary reimbursementt is] to free
the president to have more time during those two years No, I would not take leave, because
I think if I were gone a whole year I would have an enormous break from my regular work,
and I would have a lot of continuity problems
J You mentioned that you took a sabbatical in 1979 Was that the first time you ever took one?
H Right I had been at Indiana about twelve or thirteen years when I did that I wrote some
chapters of the Foundations book then That is probably the main professional activity I did
[during that sabbatical] I could justify that We did not go into that book for commercial
success reasons, even though it is with a commercial publisher
J Have you taken other sabbaticals?
H Yes I took one more in the fall of 1983 to do some computer study and some writing of
scholarly work, some of the articles Lewis Rowell at Indiana had written a book called
Thinking About Music that was sort of a combination of philosophy and aesthetics, and I
attended his class It was a small seminar-type class It did not turn out to be as helpful as I
had hoped, but I thought it might be stimulating In some ways it was, because it was
somewhat related to what we were doing in the Foundations [of Music Education course] I
found it interesting He had had the book published by the University of Massachusetts
Press, I think
J When are you planning to take a sabbatical again?
H Well, you have to be here six years, and then if I am on a part-time appointment that may
slow it up one year, so earliest possible sabbatical I could take would be when I have been
seven years From the fall of 1984, that would be something like 1992 I do not know [for
sure] I understand that here it is easier to get a sabbatical for a whole year at half salary
than for a semester at full salary I really do not know the details on that Right now I have
no any plans to take a sabbatical
J Are you looking forward to retiring some day?
H Not particularly Occasionally I think about that I have had a number of relatives and friends
who are retiring this year It is surprising, because some of them have just turned sixty I
enjoy my work, and I really do not know what I would do [if I retired] One of the things that I
have become more interested in down here because it is so easy is growing weeds and
flowers and bushes in Florida It is a temptation not to There is such a long [growing]
season, and there is so much you can do I probably will do some things like that On the
other hand, I could not do that all day But I kind of enjoy it We did not do that in Indiana
The soil was so hard you could hardly get your shovel down in the clay, and the season is so
short Growing things just was not as attractive as it is here
I have known people who retire, and they just sit around without much constructive to do I
think that would be a terrible feeling I went down to visit a student teacher at Vero Beach I
got there about eleven o'clock He was not teaching until 11 30, and I was not going to get to
eat [after that], so I went over to Howard Johnson's at Vero Beach to get something to eat
This was at eleven in the morning It was full of retired people--they did not have anything
else to do but sit around Howard Johnson's [laughter] I got the weirdest feeling, and I did
not enjoy being in there
J You will always be plagued by publishers and books and committees
H After a certain age probably no I really cannot see that I might cut down a little bit, but I
expect to go on at least until seventy
J Do you anticipate any major changes in your career or life style between now and the time
when you retire?
H No, I do not
J Do you like it here?
H Yes, I do
J In general, how do you feel about the status of music education today?
H Well, I think it is on the upswing The need for teachers in all areas is obviously on the
increase We looked at the Foundations class at Carnegie [report] and teacher needs, not
only in Florida, but nationally I think in a sense we hit bottom about 1983--we did not know it
at the time, of course--in terms of the slide because of declining enrollments in schools and
financial squeeze I do not think it is going to spring forth, but I do think things are a lot better
and are gradually getting better So I see it as improving, although it will never improve as
fast as I would like There are a number of promising indicators For example, we have a
performing arts requirement in Florida [for high school graduation] A lot of states [now] have
a fine arts requirement (I mentioned this before) that did not exist six or seven years ago
Now, if we music teachers can come up with a good course, we might really make some
progress there I can see some problems, of course, but I am "guardedly optimistic"
J As we have gone along we have mentioned a lot of different honors that have come along in
your career However, would you please tell us about everything you can remember up to
and including those honors that you are going to be receiving this spring and summer?
H You do not get this in the academic area [of music] so much [as in performance] I did
graduate [from Michigan State] with honors, an academic honor for grade-point average, and
then I was invited to join Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honorary [society] I was also in Phi Mu
[Alpha] Sinfonia That was supposed to be an honorary, but it seemed like they took in
everybody Of course, I think the elections to the MENC offices are honors I thinkthat is not
their main function, but it turns out to be that way
The thing that is coming up this spring is definitely an award/honor kind of thing from the
Michigan State University Music Alumni Association Each school has its own alumni, and
there is a School of Music now at Michigan State They selected me to come up to receive
this distinguished alumni award, which I am going to get on May 3 They will present it at the
spring band concert, and then I am going to stay over Monday and [present a] talk--they are
doing a thing Monday night for the local teachers and the student MENC [chapter] In
addition, I will talk to a class during the day on Monday So they will give me an award, pay
my expenses, and give me an honorarium I do not know how much it will be, they have not
said But it is the idea of it Marjorle will go up with me As it turns out, my sister said, "Oh, I
want to come from California" Of course, East Lansing is her home, too, so it is going to turn
out to be somewhat of a family gathering That is almost as nice as getting the honor itself
J I would like to back up for just a minute to get some information that you referred to earlier
You mentioned that your father died in 1977 When [in 1977] did he die?
H March 19, 1977 We were at the MENC [North Central Division conference] That was the
year I was president of North Central, and we combined it with the Southwestern Division
We met in Kansas City I got a call on Friday from my stepsister that my father had fallen,
and then I got another call saying, "They took him down to the hospital and cannot find
anything wrong, and they want to release him She said "He should not be released What
can I do?" I said, "Tell them not to release him until they get the doctor's permission The
next thing I heard, later that afternoon, was that his heart was not right, and I became very
nervous That night I had to introduce Howard Hanson [American composer] for a talk
Hanson was then eighty, and he talked about music past and present I do not know if you
ever heard Howard Hanson speak
J He was president of Eastman my freshman year
H [He was] an absolutely stunning man, and he gave a tremendous address We performed a
work of his--that is one reason we could get him to come [to the conference] Marjorle and I
went to dinner with Howard Hanson and [his wife] Peggy I mean, this is like, "Wowl" But we
had a really good time What interested me about Hanson was that he was running
something called the American Music Institute He was sort of retired, and he had this
interest in promoting [American] music The MENC did not pay him Instead, we gave him a
contribution for the institute The only things he wanted was a first-class [air] ticket--he was
such a large man he could not get into the little seats--and a suite in the hotel He was super
He had [to have] looked up Marjorle's maiden name, because there is no way he could
remember all his students It had been almost twenty-five years I had worked up a nice
introduction [for Mr Hanson] Well, I was worrying about my dad, who was four years older
[than Hanson], and I could not give the introduction that I planned, so I gave another
introduction But that was kind of a thrill
The next day I got a call that Dad was worse So I said, "I am coming back to Lansing"
Right in the middle of the convention I told the people that I was leaving I got some flights
changed While we were waiting at the airport my other stepsister who lived over in Overland
[Park], Kansas, right across the [Kansas] River [from Kansas City], came up and said that he
had died We were already on the way to Lansing The conference was down to the last
day, and there was not any reason that I had to stay at that point And I would not have
J Was your mother still living at the time?
H No She died much earlier, on February 5, 1958 She died quite suddenly, too, of a stroke
So my dad was a widower In fact, he was a widower twice He remarried a family friend
whom we had known for twenty-some years She had been a widow for about twenty-five
years They were married nine years, and then she died
J When did they get married?
H I think in September 1959
J What was her name?
H Lillian Ericson
J Did she have children?
H Yes That is why I had stepsisters I had known them when we were children We had lived
right near each other [in East Lansing] There were two girls One who lives in Fort Myers
now and is retired, and the other is the one that lives in Overland [Park], Kansas, just south of
J What are their names?
H Jean Sakumura, she married a Japanese-American The other one is Ruth, and her name
now is Sonnenberg
J Which one lives in Fort Myers?
J Were they about your same age?
H Well, Jean was about a year younger [than
than I was
J So they lived in the house with your dad?
H No, because by then they were married
twenty-eight years old
Clarice], and Ruth is maybe five or six years older
When Dad and Lillian were married, I was about
J So they were married then, too?
J Then she died?
H In 1969 [They were married] just short of ten years
J Then what happened?
H Dad just lived alone He lived in the same house He was very independent about that He
was all right until the last day He lived there until the day before he died
J Do your stepsisters have any families?
H Jean has four children, and Ruth has three children
J I know that your family has always been very close when you were growing up Is your family
H Pretty much Things were a little rocky with my sister after she got divorced back in the late
1970s, but things are a little better now It was kind of like finding out that Cinderella is not
real I think it is pretty close The fact that she is flying back for this thing at Michigan State
[this spring speaks volumes] Right off she said, "I will do that," when I told her about it
J Did she remarry?
H Not yet, although she has been living with a man a long time
J Does your family get together very often for reunions or just with the kids and grandkids?
H Well, we do get together with our two children quite a lot, even though we live rather far apart
They were here Christmas Our son and grandson are coming down in March We were just
at our daughters [in North Carolina], and just this week Marjorle was up in Ohio and Indiana
visiting relatives [We see each other] at least three times a year With our daughter it is a
little more often, because it is easier to go to North Carolina
J What about vacations? Do you take them regularly?
H Well, not quite This last summer I taught the A session, so during the B session Marjorle
and I took a couple weeks and went to Peru That is not a regular thing Probably about
every other year we would do something like that In 1988 we will go to Australia because
the International Society [of Music Education] meets out there in July, and we will try to go to
China on the way We have been in Australia only very briefly, and we would like to see
China very much We will not see it all, it is a huge country It is not regularly, but we have
made trips overseas about every other year since 1970, when the children were old enough
J What was your favorite place to go on a vacation?
H It is hard to decide There is a place in Ireland named the Ashford Castle If you watched
"Remington Steele" last Tuesday night, they did the whole show from Ashford Castle It is
out on the western side of Ireland It really is an old castle It has been completely redone
with antiques It has beautiful grounds, and it is on a lake That kind of thing can be a lot of
fun We stayed there one night, but I wish we had stayed longer If you just want to go away,
it is different It is a terrific place There are some places like that that are neat to go to
They are really fun
You think of a lot of places that are very interesting, like Luxor, Egypt Jerusalem and India
were fascinating In some ways India is not a lot of fun It is poor and dirty and all that, but it
J Have you been pretty much all over the world?
H We have never been to Africa That is in the back of our minds because Marjorle has a
cousin who is a missionary in Zambia That may be the next place that we will try to visit,
because he will be retiring I want to get down there before he retires, because you really get
to see what life is like when you live out there We have not been to Africa except the
northern part We have been in Tunisia and Egypt, but we have not been south of the
Sahara Aside from Peru, we have not been any other place in South America I understand
Peru is the most interesting part, and I would agree, at least from what I saw We have not
been to Alaska We have not been to China, and I would like to see some of that
J If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
H Well, I guess I would just as soon be here I like a place that is not a big city but not a place
where you are out of touch Gainesville fulfills that Aside from its "monsoon" season it has a
pretty nice climate I think usually if you are going to be happy you will be happy no matter
where you are, and if you are not going to be happy it would not matter where you are So in
a sense it does not matter
J If you ever have any free time, what do you like to do?
H I guess what I would do a little betterjob of is growing the flowers, the azaleas, the camellias,
and things around the yard Right now I have to hire [someone to get] some work done I
would probably do things like that I would like to have a little more time to travel just for
enjoyment, not just business
J Do you have any hobbles?
H Well, we take pictures on the trips I do not do a lot of photography at home because of
[limited] time, but when we travel both Marjorle and I take our cameras, and we make a [slide]
show out of it In India we took a thousand slides that we cut down to about three hundred [to
show, although] probably six hundred of them are worth seeing The pictures on the walls [of
my office] are pictures that I took
J They are beautiful Do you like to watch sports or baseball on TV?
H Well, I played a lot of baseball in high school [I do not watch it much because] they drag
them out now so much on TV with so many commercials, and the games are so long Often
the pitcher isjust standing there scratching himself I do not particularly care about that I will
watch a little bit of football, but a whole game gets to be too much, and the season is
interminably long I watch a little bit of basketball Sometimes I watch when Indiana
University is on I had season tickets there, and my son and I always went They get on
national TV quite a lot I watch things like that, but not very much
J Do you have a favorite baseball team?
H It used to be the Detroit Tigers
J Are they still your favorite?
H The Chicago Cubs They have not won [a pennant] in so long They did [win] the division a
few years ago, and everybody was sort of pulling for the Cubs
J What is your favorite type of music? Clarinet music? Opera music? Symphonies? Do you
H You know how hard it would be to answer that question It depends on what piece and what I
feel like at the time I suppose if I had to name the greatest work, I would probably say the
Brahms German Requiem But I do not want to listen that all the time I suppose for pure
pleasure I like pieces by [Antonin] Dvorak, Ralph Vaughan Williams, [Felix] Mendelssohn,
and certain things of [J S ] Bach I even like Roy Harris's Symphony No 5 That is a very
nice work It does not get played a lot The thing I think I like about Vaughan Williams,
Dvorak, and Mendelssohn is that I get the feeling that they really enjoyed music They must
have thought, Gee, that is a neat little tune I listened to Dvorak's [Symphony] No 8, which is
the old Symphony No 4 It is such a neat work, not profound like the Ninth, the "New World"
Symphony So I guess if I had the choice of anything to listen to in the whole world, I would
listen to Brahms and Beethoven However, I do not want to listen to the same thing all the
time There are certain times you like to hear Mozart, but you are also glad that Beethoven
came along or Brahms came along
J You really do not have one favorite composer?
H Not really The type I mentioned Sometimes I even like Franz Liszt Some of his music gets
corny at times, but it is fun to hear
J Do you have a particular favorite period of music?
H I suppose I lean toward the Romantic
J Do you like any popular music?
H Not of the rock type, and country [music] is kind of boring
J Do you like Barry Manilow or Nell Diamond or Barbra Strelsand or people like that?
H I enjoy hearing them in modest amounts As an entire diet it gets to be a little bit the same
J Dr Hoffer, what are some of the characteristics that you admire most in people?
H Well, I guess people who are basically good people, who are honest and hard working,
people who are not brassy, especially in girls I know that is sexist I think that way about
men, too I admire people who in a nice way accomplish a lot I think that is why Boaz
[Sharon] is a good friend The guy is accomplished, and I respect that a lot It is not just talk
He really gets out and does it I admire people who really take advantage of opportunities
and do things well To me, good people are thoughtful and honest That sounds like the Boy
Scout manual, but nevertheless I respect those characteristics
J What would turn you off in somebody?
H Somebody whom you cannot trust, who is overly aggressive or a "loud mouth," a person who
is thoughtless--that sort of thing
J Dr Hoffer, thank you very much for these interviews I know that you are aware that they will
be transcribed and kept on file in the University archives where they will become part of a
permanent public collection
J We are ending these interviews only in the interest in time Dr Hoffer is an extremely busy
man, and I have to submit these tapes to fulfill an assignment But for those of us who are
fortunate enough to be able to associate with Dr Hoffer, it is like being caught up in the
process of watching history being created Dr Hoffer is so "other" oriented that whenever he
sees a need he tries to fill it, whether it is through writing a book, articles, pamphlets,
methods, instruction guides, or creating and heading committees, panels, or task forces to
study and create new solutions to areas where there is need or to give recognition to people
or programs of excellence The music world owes him far more than anyone could ever
express Those who are privileged to know him and you who will listen to these tapes and
especially myself owe him a deep debt of gratitude for so openly sharing his experiences and
his life with us
H You are welcome
J We are doing a continuation of the interview with Dr Charles Russell Hoffer upon request
This material will be added to previous tapes in fulfillment of the assignment for the Seminar
in Oral History Today is Thursday, March 5,1 30 P M in his office in the Music Building on
the University of Florida campus Dr Hoffer, we want to back up forjust a minute We know
that you came here in 1984 from Indiana First, would you tell us your exact title here?
H Professor of music and coordinator of music education
J And your duties?
H I have the leadership responsibility for the music education area, including curriculum, music,
and personnel Of course, I also do teaching, so it is not all administrative by any means,
because the department is not that large But [I help coordinate] the placement of the student
teachers and setting up of the curriculum We work those matters out as a faculty As I
conceive it, the job is a leadership role
J What attracted you here to the University of Florida?
H A lot of things Partly, I felt that I was getting to a point where I was not making any
difference at Indiana, and that is not a satisfying feeling I could have stayed there and had
tenure, but I would have been doing the same thing for another sixteen or seventeen years
So I thought I would look around and see what is out there [in the way of jobs] I really had
not looked around [for eighteen years], partly because I did not want to when my children
were in school Especially when they are in high school, changing jobs is a hard thing to do,
so I did not do it then
I think what really attracted me to FLorida was that I saw opportunities for growth here The
state was growing, the University had a chance for growth, and music education had a
chance to grow, too Maybe that is my ego trip, but nevertheless that is what has made it
enjoyable I did not see those kinds of possibilities at Indiana Also, there was really nothing
that was keeping us there in Indiana Both of the children were grown and married and had
moved away from home Marjorle had been teaching strings in the schools for seventeen
years, and each year it seemed like it got a little tougher, with more schools to go to The last
year she was covering seven schools I think there was not that much interest on her part [in
staying], so she did not mind moving at all If our children had been in town maybe that
would have made a difference, but they were not As I told you, our daughter is now in
Fayetteville, North Carolina Our son is still in Indiana, but I am not sure he is going to stay
there There really was not that much keeping us there So I thought, Well, we can move
We can have a fresh start and have a chance to make a difference That is what attracted
J Did you know anything about the University's reputation before you came down?
H Its reputation in music was not very strong I knew of the University, but I did not know a lot
J Did you know any of the faculty before you came here?
H Yes I had met Dr [Phyllis] Dorman only once, but Dr [Camille] Smith did her doctorate
degree under me in Indiana In fact, that is how I heard that there might be a vacancy here
Dave Wilmot was retiring, and she told me that they would be looking for somebody So that
is how I heard about it so soon And I had met Reid Poole He had been the Southern
Division president just before I went on [the National Executive Board] as North Central
Division president We did not serve on the board together, but we were in a couple of
meetings together Oh, [I knew] Tom Liley, who taught saxophone here I did not realize he
was here until I came for the interview His wife [Nancy] teaches piano in town She is still
here He is teaching at Kansas on a job which is just year to year, and they do not feel that
they should sell their house and move until it becomes a regular job I thinkthat was really all
the people I knew here
J When did you come for an interview?
H About April 5 or 6 I was here two days in the first week of April, a Thursday and Friday of
J What were your first impressions? This is 19847
H Right When you look out of the Holiday Inn window and see the north part of [NW] 13th
[Street] there, that does not look all that neat I had asked, "If there is any time I would like to
see more of the town, to just walk around," so Dr Smith drove me around some of the areas
[to the west and north] I just loved the trees, and it looked so nice I really was very
impressed with that part of it People were very nice I liked Dr [Budd] Udell [chairman,
Department of Music] very much and Dean [Arnold] Penland [assistant dean, College of Fine
Arts] They just seemed to be very sensible and nice people The building seemed quite
nice We had some of the interviews in the conference room off the dean's office in the Fine
Arts Building, and it is a nice place In some ways the University reminded me, in size and
with a big agriculture school, of Michigan State
J Was it hard for you to make the decision to leave Indiana?
H No, it really was not I was hired under Dean [Wilfred] Bain, and he had retired about ten
years ago He was the man who really built that School [of Music] He was followed by a
younger man named [Charles] Webb I just felt the school was not getting any better,
especially in the academic areas Some of the people that I had worked with had retired or
would soon retire, so it was not really hard [to decide to leave] Of course, in some ways it
was, naturally We had lived in the same house for eighteen years, and our children grew up
there It is hard to leave that I had the feeling of starting something new So in that sense
the move was exciting and motivating
J Did you leave a lot of heart-broken people who wanted you to stay and tried to talk you into
H A few, but I do not think too many
J How do you feel about the University of Florida as compared to Indiana?
H They are so different Indiana University has an enrollment in the music school of 1,600
majors It is sort of big factory, very much a conservatory While there are some academic
departments, the message is clear academics is not that important It has an extremely
outstanding opera program If you want to be an opera singer there is just no other place to
go They have a terrific opera center with a theater and equipment that rivals any
professional [facility] in the U S It is very strong that way, and then they have some strong
particular applied teachers Janos Starker on cello, Josef Gingold on piano, and Menachim
Pressler on violin They have some very strong, internationally renowned faculty members
All of them were at Indiana during the time I was there, and most of them pre-dated me So
there was this huge [music] school with a rather small academic area, especially music
education I always had to scratch hard to get a quality program Here, of course, the music
program is so much smaller, and music education proportionally is more than half of the
program Therefore it is hard to make the comparison They are very different The
performance level of the orchestras [at Indiana University] was very strong It was [at a]
professional [level] We do not have that here But we treat the students better here
Indiana [University] and Purdue [University] had made an agreement years ago in which one
would have a major in certain areas while the other would not Agriculture was always at
Purdue, and music was at Indiana The law school was at Indiana, and engineering was at
Purdue The University of Florida is different in the sense that there is a little of everything
here, it is a very comprehensive university
Another difference is that things here seemed so new compared to what I was used to The
University of Florida was not co-ed [until 1947, and] we had no music department, I
understand, until around 1950 Indiana had a school of music in the 1920s and was granting
doctoral degrees by 1950 In fact, I almost went there for a doctorate [in 1952] They have
been awarding doctoral degrees for twenty-five to thirty years longer than here
Gainesville was a small town, and the University is much smaller The music department
[here] was originally a service department It was all very different I am struck with how
things are new and growing So that is part of the reason I moved here I think that was also
one of the differences between Florida and Indiana Indiana had sort of fallen into a mold,
and it was very hard to make needed improvements
J You mentioned that there have been some changes here Could you tell us what changes
have come about in the music department here as a result of your being here?
H Well, there are some matters in which I have had some influence Little happens because of
just one person [There are] two major things One was the doctoral program, [which is] a
cooperative effort with the College of Education I looked at the program and told David
Kushner [professor of music, coordinator of graduate music studies] "I am not surprised that
we have so few students I am surprised that we have any at all I would not want to come
for that program It contained little time for music and music education I made a proposal
after I had been here six weeks They [the College of Education] responded "Wait, because
we are reorganizing the College of Education again [laughter] We are going from five
departments to two We are bringing in two new people to chair those departments, and we
are not going to be in a position to make any decisions" I found it hard to wait, but that was
The next fall the doctoral program was placed in the Instruction and Curriculum area, as you
know, and Dr Margaret Early was brought from Syracuse University [to head it] They took a
look at their whole doctoral program requirements We met with them, and they had our
recommendations anyway Actually what they came up with was even better than what we
had asked forl I thinkthere were a number of circumstances that allowed that to happen So
I think the doctoral degree is a good one now
The problem, of course, is that the program still involves two colleges, the College of
Education and the College of Fine Arts There are some things in it that I think could be
better, but at least the curriculum that is required is now more reasonable Now, I am not
sure I would think that if I were a music history person, but I do as a music educator
The other thing I worked hard on was the undergraduate program for the bachelor of music
education degree The problem was that everybody took all of the methods courses, whether
they were going to be teaching music to fifth graders or directing a high school band It struck
me that that is good up to a point High school band directors need to learn some things that
are of no interest to fifth grade music teachers, for example, stage jazz band techniques,
marching band techniques, and how to scrape reeds The elementary vocal teacherwants to
know about Kodaly hand signs and playing the guitar--things that are of no interest to high
school band directors So the faculty added courses of a specialized nature that candidates
take after their other [music methods] courses
The faculty also put in a course called Introduction to Music Education The music education
faculty did not even see the students until well into their junior year We knew on [University]
records who they were, but we did not know them as people at all unless they just happened
to come to the student MENC Also, I think we wanted to give them an orientation to what
the field is about and what it is trying to do, so we put in a two-credit course
We made some other improvements We moved the computer requirement from the College
of Education because their course did not cover anything about music Our course is called
Computers in Music Education, which Dr [Russell] Robinson will teach He has also
developed a lab for it The students now can look at music materials and see how computers
can handle dictation and skills like that The College of Education course focuses more on
the process of operating the computer It never got to music Of course, it could not
We prepared the revised curriculum, and it was approved for students who began this fall Of
course, it will be two or three years from now before those students reach their junior year
We will offer the computer course next fall, as well as the introduction course
There are other activities For example, I am now chair of the search committee for band
[director] I was also chair of the piano committee that brought Boaz Sharon in, and I am very
pleased how that turned [search] out Even though such things are not part of your teaching
assignment, they can be important I was so surprised when I was asked to chair the piano
committee, because I really did not know much about it But I found it very interesting If I
had stayed in Indiana that would not have been possible They would have just put some
pianists [on the committee] Besides, they did not really use committees very much there It
was fun to get into that [search] and to talk about something different For example, I found it
was very important if you studied with Leonard Shure or not Boaz tells me he was not even
a very good teacher in some ways
The search for the band director is interesting, too It involves a different part of the world of
music At least that is closer to music education than piano I think if I can have some
influence or if we are lucky--I think a little of both--in getting people, then that is a contribution,
J Have there been any crises in the school since you have been here?
H Well, we changed [department] chairs I had been here only about a month or so when a
number of the tenured faculty had complained [to the dean] about the chair [Dr Budd Udell]
I thought very highly of him Things had seemed so much better when he was chair [than
they were at Indiana] I was on the chair search committee (I was not chairing it, Dean
Penland was chair of that search committee), and at the same time I was chairing the piano
[search committee] I tell you, that was a busy couple of weeks That took a lot of time I
think we were lucky how we came out If Dr [Joel] Stegall had not accepted the position [I do
not know what we would have done] We did not have very many good choices Then we
had a personnel matter with a piano teacher, but, again, I had nothing to do with that
J Dr Hoffer, do you plan to stay at the University of Florida?
H At my age, probably yes I did have an opportunity to leave for a very good position at the
University of Illinois A man named Charles Leonnard, who has kind of been an institution at
that school for years and had developed this large, strong graduate program in music
education, had retired, and they approached me and asked me if I would apply I thought
about it and figured I really should look, [especially] after all those years when I did not look
[when I was] at Indiana They asked me for an interview, and I was offered the job with
tenure and a very attractive salary This was in the winter of 1986, roughly February and
March I got the offer about the last day in March, and I turned it down about a week later I
had done a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do and what the total situation was The
nice thing about that was I had a chance to rethink, Do I want to be here? And the University
had a second chance to rethink if it wanted me here We both came up with yes, as much as
the University speaks through those administrators I think it is rare that that kind of chance
would come along, where I really had an opportunity to reaffirm that kind of decision
J I am sure they did not want a chance to rethink about your leaving I am sure they were
H I imagine that now, at my age of fifty-seven, I am not going to be doing that kind of thing I
am certainly not looking I find it hard to imagine circumstances now that would cause me to
move I thought a lot about going into administration, but that would mean giving up a lot of
things in terms of writing and some of the other professional activities I think I would miss
the teaching I think that would be hard The first year or two it would be stimulating and
new, but there is a lot of very hard work when you are chair of a department or the dean
They jokingly say that all the problems that could have been solved were solved before they
got to the chair, that the chair gets the ones that cannot be solved It is hard, and I am not
sure I want to go to that The pay differential is not that great, either
Now I am doing pretty much the kinds of things that I want to do, so I really do not see the
chances of [moving on] I am quite sure that is not going to happen, and I am not sure I want
it to happen I do think, just speaking philosophically and personally, it is important to know
when you have things pretty good, and I have things pretty good I am very aware of that in
my life Would I rather be doing something else or be someplace else or under other
circumstances? No, I would not So I really cannot see the circumstances in which I would
leave, both in a practical sense and in a philosophical sense But it is an interesting question
I guess I keep thinking [about moving], but I do not see this happening
[There are some things I have been doing in the community ] One concerns the church, and
another is related to local schools One of the things we spent quite a bit of time on last year
was [developing a string program in the Alachua County public schools] It is surprising that
two major counties in Florida that have no string programs in the schools are Alachua
County, where the University of Florida is, and Tallahassee, Leon County [where Florida
State University is] You would think that a university community is the one place where you
would have a string program Mrs [Gerald] Poe, who is head of the Alachua County Youth
Orchestra, put together a task force to try to get string programs in the Alachua County
schools There was a little program over at Westwood [Middle School] where a teacher
taught as a teacher's aide, like for $5 03 an hour She was not a certified teacher Well,
Westwood was cited by the Southern States Association [for using an uncertified teacher]
That teacher had a family situation in which her husband was not well, and she finally had to
quit and take care of him
That spring Marjorle filled out the last month or so for this lady at that [low] wage in order to
keep the [string] program going The plan was to fall with a regular part-time teacher The
principal felt, maybe because he was not getting enough support from the central office, that
he would drop the whole thing, even though they had around sixty students [enrolled] So
they did not have any string program there last year, and they do not this year either
We formed a task force with Marjorle and I and two or three other people, including Mrs Poe,
to attempt to get string programs in the schools We appeared at school board hearings in
February, and I and quite a few others from the community spoke We prepared a very nice
booklet, complete with a rationale and a plan for them that I helped write
J Is that booklet still available?
J What was the name of it?
H I do not remember what we called it It really was a report to the board of education It is not
printed, we had it typed and gave it to the board members We got testimonial letters from
people who had played under Mrs [Dorothy] Reaves She had retired in 1970, a long time
ago, and some of those students wrote very impressive letters about what that experience
had meant to them We xeroxed some of them and left them in handwritten form I do not
think the board was impressed, because we did not succeed But we worked hard on it
This year the lady who was president [of the Alachua County Youth Orchestra, Barbara King]
took a different approach, and that is all right She did not use the task force, and we did not
prepare all the materials I am not really involved this year However, the proposal was not
just to get Marjorle a job It is the idea that our school system should be as complete as other
good school systems in the state and in the nation This is something on which we want the
[Alachua County] schools to catch up with other schools We actually did quite a lot of work
last January and February and some in the fall putting together the sort of rationale book and
plan I figured out how many teachers it would take and so on
The thing I think that hurt was that the local schools really do not like to have traveling
teachers They avoid this insofar as I can tell In this plan the string teachers would have to
travel That is the usual practice in the United States I had the teacher scheduled into three
schools a day, but they did not want to do that The school board did add some [music] staff,
they added someone in public relations for the board of education, and they added a few
other positions like that They added two assistant band directors in the district
The other thing is we both have been active in the community, in Grace Presbyterian Church,
which is a fairly small church [of about] 270 members [It is located] on NW 13th Street I am
on the governing board [what they call the session] now and am heading a big building
renovation campaign I am still trying to figure out how I got in on that We had a big
[campaign] drive on Sunday, December 7 I would have picked a different day, but we had to
do it then We have raised funds, not all we wanted to Then we found out the architect we
were working with has left the firm, and we are trying to work with him and renegotiate the
contract So we are sort of in a "hold pattern" at the moment But we really do need to do
some things like replace roofs, and the heating and air-conditioning system in the
church/school building is very inefficient and not successful When the outside temperature
gets cool it does not heat the buildings adequately The building program is still fairly
important to me, because I really want to see the church do well So in that sense [we have
been active] in the community
Those are some things we are working on We hope the string program for the schools
comes through, because it is a good idea I think Marjorle would like to teach some She
said that as each year that goes by her interest wanes a little bit She has a lot of private
students now, but we really would like to see it [in the public schools] There are more people
who can teach private students than can go over and teach in the schools, which she did for
so many years She feels now that she has a talent there that not just everybody has, which
is true Teaching strings privately is not quite the same In a sense it is easier You do not
have to travel, you are not dealing with larger classes, and most students that you are dealing
with are interested or they would not be there Either they are somewhat interested or their
parents are interested I think she enjoys that, but I think she feels that she could do more
than she is currently doing Whether the strings [project] goes or not, we will keep trying,
because I just think we should
J You mentioned that you had taught clarinet privately When did you stop teaching privately?
H When we lived in St Louis there were not a lot of clarinet teachers around, so I taught
youngsters [At that time] we lived out in University City, near Clayton [Missouri]
J This is when?
H [This was] 1959 to 1966 I had taught quite a lot of clarinet before and played quite a bit
When I moved to Indiana, the School of Music had a faculty of approximately 138 to 140, two
or three of whom did nothing but [teach] clarinet, so there was not a need for [me to do] any
clarinet teaching at all I devoted most of my attention to music education The book writing
was taking more time, so I never took up clarinet teaching in that sense after we moved to
Indiana Until then I had done quite a lot
J Do you ever miss it?
H Oh, you cannot do everything In a way I miss it I have not played as much [as when I was
teaching] When I was teaching I was playing with the students and trying to keep a little bit
in practice Now I am terribly out of practice I do a little bit of playing every so often, but I
really have not played in public I have not played anything here I did a couple of times in
church before we moved from Indiana Marjorle and I have played a couple things together
on violin and clarinet But we have not done that here It is just a matter of time, frankly I
hate to see the playing skid downhill When I do not practice, of course, it does go downhill
J This is a continuation of the interview with Dr Hoffer today is Wednesday, March 11, 1987
It is 2 00, and we are in his office in the Music Building Dr Hoffer, I was wondering When
you decided to apply for this position at the University of Florida, did you go through normal
channels like everyone else, or, because you are so famous all over the country and probably
[are] on everyone's most wanted list, did you just say something like "Hi I am Charles
Hoffer I am considering taking this position"?
H The latter, no Nowadays there is a thing called Fair Employment Practices Act, which
prohibits private arrangements in hiring somebody It is supposed to be publicly announced
and advertised I think every position [that is open in] the State University System is listed in
some book someplace, including the salary range That announcement is not sent around,
by the way, the candidates do not see it But you are supposed to follow the channels What
I did was send a letter [expressing interest] As I said, Dr Smith had told me about the
opening here, so I sent a letter and then had my credentials sent from Michigan State
University I guess I had updated them They sat there for about sixteen years and I had not
updated them, and I suddenly realized they were very out of date The only thing that they
did not have was three current letters [of recommendation] I had three somewhat current
letters, meaning [they were written] within the last two years But after I was hired I had to get
three current letters written to the University of Florida It was really after the fact Many
times they are [by] the same people who had already written letters If [you had] to ask a
person to write a letter every time you applied for a job, that gets to be a lot [of trouble] In
that sense my being hired followed the normal procedures
J What amazes me--and I have heard this from other people, also--is that you are so great, and
maybe part of the reason why is because you say things that so understated If somebody
does not know you, some of the things [you say] would just go right over their heads For
instance, you mentioned that you had a second chance to rethink your being here at the
University of Florida in March 1985 When the University of Illinois begged you to come and
work with them
H They did not beg, but they did offer
J with tenure and at a very great salary, you turned them down a week later Would you tell
us how that affected your position here at the University, say, for example, in terms of your
salary and tenure? I know they wanted you pretty badly here and were not about to let you
go, so you had two big universities fighting over you What effect did that have on you?
H Well, I did get a raise, but for the purposes of the tape I would rather not get into how much
Of course, a lot of the faculty did not know this, I did not go around [talking about it] You
have to think of working with these people, and if they get the idea that you think you are hot
stuff they are not going to work with you So I did not really make a point out of it I did tell a
few people I told the [music education] faculty after it was all over I said, 'You are probably
going to hear about this, anyway" Well, Dr Robinson had heard about it in Anaheim By the
time we went to Anaheim for the national convention I had turned it down But he had heard
about it, and I said, "I would rather have you hear about it straight then to hear it coming back
through somebody 2,000 miles away So I did not say a lot about it It did not cause a lot of
drastic changes I think it sort of cemented things [here] a bit
J The degree program that you mentioned, the Ph D program in music education which I am
taking now, you said was basically the result of a combination of a lot of factors and that you
felt really good about it But what you inadvertently forgot to mention but that it was your
idea You created it, and it was a direct result of your work Is that right?
H Yes and no I do not mean to beg off People have been trying to get modifications [in the
program], Dr Kushner and others, for a number of years I think what happened was that
some things fell in place One was that the College of Education went through reorganization
and brought in new people, so in a sense they shook up the old mold If they had not done
that I do not know whether we would have gotten any changes It is really hard to know But
the fact that there were new people in charge there and that they themselves realized that
this was not a good working relationship [made a big difference], and I think they have tried
very hard to make it right It is hard to assess how much you are really personally
responsible I am glad if it goes well I think it was a combination of factors that did finally fall
As I said before, the College of Education did more than we even asked for They really
changed quite significantly the number of requirements, especially in the foundations and
curriculum area Now a candidate is supposed to do nine hours beyond the masters three in
one area and six in the other It can be three/six or six/three Originally they had a list of
particular courses that the student had to take When a particular course is specified, then
that means if it is not scheduled some semester it puts the students in a difficult spot What
we had proposed was to take a certain number of courses out of a particular group, which
meant that you were not locked into particular courses Three courses they were requiring in
one area tended to cover a lot of the same material If you took one you got the idea I do
not think students needed to take three of them I cannot remember the names of them now,
but students told me they were getting the same thing in each course I think instructors were
different, but the content tended to be the same I think the education faculty realized that,
too, and it was not really anybody's interest [to maintain the same program] We made the
point that the enrollment would be better if they had a more flexible program I think maybe
that [point] caught on, too I am glad I had something to do with it
J Another thing that amazes me is that anytime you are aware that there is any kind of need,
you try to fill it You create solutions, because you can see things that most of us never will
be able to You create committees, and you do all the work of setting things up, and then,
when you can, you let go of things In the end it is like what you want to accomplish has
already been accomplished, but sometimes people may never know it is because of you For
H I am not aware of these good things, but go ahead
J There are lots of them These examples are just taken from the last time that we talked One
of the last things you mentioned was that you created a task force in 1985 to get a program
for string players into the Alachua and Leon County schools
H Well, we only worked on Alachua County Leon [County] does not have a string program,
either, but we concerned ourselves only with the local schools here
J This year you do not need to be involved because of all the work that you did last year And
when it does go, people are never going to know that that is because of you, that that is your
H Again, a lot of things have to fall in place, so it will not be just me For example, the Alachua
County Youth Orchestra I think the president is Barbara King I do not know her, but she is
president of the Alachua County Youth Board, and she is trying to work another approach this
year Sometimes things finally fall in place, and you never know why If it works this year it
was not because of something Mrs King did or something we did last year, or something
done five years ago After all, Mrs Reaves had a program here from the 1960s until she
retired in 1971 You may even have been in it
J It started longer ago than that I was in it since I was about five years old
H Well, she retired in 1971 There are a lot of good feelings about that, and those feelings have
not died Barbara Alvarez was in her orchestra She would be about your age, and she
played piano, too She did not play strings, but she did a lot of accompanying She is a
professor now at Ball State [University in Muncle, Indiana] in music education A lot of times
things will happen like that, and you really do not know what causes them Lots of times the
situation is complex, and it depends on things over which you have no much control I think I
try to do everything I can It is like rolling a ball down a bowling alley you hope you knock the
pins over Sometimes you do and sometimes you do not
J I wanted to ask you some questions about your church and the building project You said
that you were heading the building renovation campaign for your church, Grace Presbyterian
Was the renovation project your idea?
H No The needs were getting so pressing that they had been talked about off and on What
the committee had previously tried [was to do the work piecemeal] When I first went on the
committee I was not even on the governing board The man who was chairing the committee
had a list of each need, like the roof on the chancel, the heating and air conditioning in the
fellowship hall He had a list of twenty-five of these things Well, some were big We were
not getting anyplace, and I said "We really need to pull all this together Because it is so
major, we cannot just do it out of the current budget" Some of the other people were thinking
this way, too We decided to put it together under kind of one big umbrella and try to clear a
whole bunch of these things [at one time] There was heating and air conditioning in three
different buildings, and you cannot really treat them separately, because if you change the
heating and air conditioning [in one area it will affect the others] Acoustics in the fellowship
hall are terrible That has to do with where the pipes go Everything was sort of linked
together So we had to link it together if we were going to make any progress
J What kinds of things did you do to raise money?
H First we hired an architect We had some funds, and we spent about $6,000 getting an
architect Then we got a thing from our church national called Church Financial Campaign
Services For a certain fee we can get professional advice [on fund raising], so he came and
helped us with the campaign He was a retired minister who lives over in Palm Coast
Then we ran a big campaign on Sunday, December 7 We had done certain things that he
suggested we had speakers in church each Sunday for five Sundays, we mailed out a
question-and-answer booklet that we put together, we had a big dinner on where we
presented some of these ideas and tried to make people aware [of the need], and then we
had the what they call "Every Member Canvass That is the term we are used to using You
get to every family, and they get a chance to fill out a pledge card The pledges for the
building are for three years and for the regular budget is for one year We made a big day of
that on December 7, and we tried to end the campaign by Christmas
Now the architect that we worked with left the firm, and he is the man we really wanted to
workwith That apparently did not work out with the firm he was with, so he is probably going
to move out of town to Sarasota or someplace We are trying to workthis out, and it is taking
us longer than we thought Nothing is simple, I guess
J Did you volunteer to be on the committee?
H I am trying to figure out how I got on it I think the minister put me on it They try to have
each governing board member--what we call a session member--on some committee I think
he thought I had the ability [to lead] I told him "Look, I am a music teacher What is the
point?" They all got a big laugh out of that I think he just put me on that committee instead
of something else
J What other positions do you have in the church?
H Well, I am a member of session and chairman of the building committee now
J Do the people at church really know about you? Do they know how famous you are and what
you have done for music and your background, or have you just forgotten to say anything?
H I am not that famous There are a couple people related to the University There is a lady
named Mrs [Dorothy] Newell who has a doctorate She is in guidance There are a number
of people like that who know and understand There is a professor in statistics who has a
somewhat similar position professionally and is quite active Those people know It does not
mean that much to the rest of the members In a way, maybe it should not They are looking
at you like what kind of person you are I think that is fair
J How did you decide that particular church? It is pretty far away from where you live
H Well, Marjorle's dad was a Presbyterian minister, so we tend to go to Presbyterian churches
I was brought up in an interdenominational church
J That is why I was wondering, because when you grew up in East Lansing there was only one
church When did you decide to join the Presbyterian church?
H After we were married That church I was in was originally founded by Presbyterians,
anyway, so it did not really make much difference Among the Protestant churches there is
not a great deal of difference [in theology], between the Methodist and the Presbyterians and
Congregationalists It is mostly in the form of government, and only a few people get really
exercised about that If you just went to church and were an ordinary member you probably
were not terribly aware of it Presbyterians elect their professionals, Methodists have a
bishop who appoints people, and Congregationalists are very independent, as each
congregation operates its own way
We looked at about three Presbyterian churches There was one by Westwood [Middle
School] called Westminster [Presbyterian Church] We went there a couple of times, and
they sat on folding chairs It was the social hall, too They did not do much with music, and
we just did not feel good about it We went down to First [Presbyterian Church], and First
was a very moneyed church Somehow we were not very moved by anything there
Grace [Presbyterian Church] was a nice happy combination It is about five miles from where
we live, which is closer than First and is not all that different from going to Westwood We
went out to the Kanapaha [Presbyterian] Church You probably do not know where that is
J By the [Kanapaha] Botanical Gardens
H Yes That is out about ten or twelve miles It is very rural, but it is an interesting old building
It is a real clapboard kind of [building that] looks almost like [something] out of New England
But that was just too far So that is why we decided to go there [to Grace Presbyterian]
They had a nice young minister, thirty-four now [They have a] good, modest program [It is]
not a huge church We just thought it fit in [with our needs]
J Where did you go to church after you moved from East Lansing?
H Well, when we lived in Grand Ledge, this little town in Michigan, they did not have a
Presbyterian church We drove eight miles to the west side of Lansing and went to a
Presbyterian church, Central Presbyterian Then in Buffalo, New York, we were in a very big
church where the ushers wore waistcoats with striped pants like diplomats I had never seen
that I do not suppose they do that today They had about 2,500 members In St Louis we
went to a church that had been very socially prominent, but then the neighborhood had
changed It was sort of on the line between a very rich area and a lot of blacks [who were]
moving in The membership had gone down, but we had an extremely good minister there in
those days It was a very dynamic place to be That was Second Presbyterian We were in
two different Presbyterian churches in Bloomington First Presbyterian for a long time, and
then the last couple years Bloomington United Presbyterian, which was smaller and a little
more serious [about its mission]
J Where were you married?
H Marjorle's father married us in a little town called Geetingsville [Indiana] It really is not a
town It is outside Frankfort, Indiana, that was the mail address He married us because he
was the minister there It [the town] was a church and about nine houses around it It is a
nice church--brick and everything Then about six months after we were married they moved
and took a nice job at a county seat in what they called the thumb of Michigan, up near
Saginaw, and he retired from there
J What was the name of the church?
H Geetingsville Presbyterian
J Would you tell us a little bit about your wedding? I skipped that entire part Were you
H Yes [laughter] We married in the afternoon the day after Thanksgiving Because her dad
was a minister of the church, everybody was invited, and we had a lot of people there Who
do you invite, and who you do leave out? In a little town that could have been difficult So we
had my future brother-in-law (they were not married yet) come down and play a Handel flute
piece before the wedding, and a friend of Marjorle's played the Romance from the [Henryk]
Wlenlawski Violin Concerto Marjorle's uncle gave her away She wanted her grandfather [to
do that], but he just was not well enough to make the trip He was just short of eighty then
My parents came down from Michigan They got caught in a snow storm going home [They]
almost skidded off the road outside Notre Dame in St Marys, on the Michigan-Indiana line
But most of the people made it We had quite a bit of music beforehand and a fairly
traditional ceremony The people of the church held a reception afterwards for us
We went to Chicago for the honeymoon It snowed more there [laughter] To show how
early this was, we stayed at the Harrison Hotel, and it cost $8 a night It was supposed to be
the newest hotel in Chicago, but in 1953 I think it was already thirty years old We rented a
TV--they did have them in rooms--and watched black-and-white shows like "You Were There"
with Walter Cronkite and "Omnibus," which you probably have heard about Alistair Cooke
was the host He is the narrator for "Masterpiece Theatre" I do not think he was doing that
in those days It was so unusual to have TV because we did not have TV in Lansing at that
J Dr Hoffer, you live in a beautiful neighborhood, Hidden Hills, in the northwest section of town
How did it happen that you moved there?
H Well, I came down on a Monday morning I was hired and agreed to terms with the
University The next week we went to California We had set up a visit with Harcourt Brace
to work on the book and to see my sister, who lives out there in the Los Angeles area That
had been set up long before the job came through, but we decided to go anyway The week
after we came back Marjorle had agreed to talk to the church ladies on Wednesday night
about our trip to Israel We knew we would be moving, and she did not want to try to
postpone it So I came down Monday, and she left early Thursday morning I had done a lot
of scouting, and I had narrowed the choices of houses down to about five that we looked at
the next two days This house just happened to be on the market There was one across the
corner that was almost the same price, but we did not like it very much We liked the one we
are in We looked quite seriously at a house out at Buckingham East and one down by the
Gainesville Golf and Country Club, in the southwest area Those were the three that we
looked hard at Actually from that house we could look out the backwindow and see we were
on the fifteenth fairway It was pretty close to Paynes Prairie We would have had to
refinance it, and they wanted a high interest rate, so itjust did not work out We did not like
the house as much, either We liked the location [of the house we bought] It is a little further
than we would like in terms of driving, but it is such a pretty area It is like living in a park
And the house is nice and cheery, with the sun coming in
J How does that neighborhood compare to where you were living [in Indiana]'
H Well, the house is bigger We had a two-floor Colonial--I am really into that--with a basement
Obviously nobody has basements [here in Florida] We had the curbs and the streets [in
Bloomington], but [our neighborhood] here is very private There are no curbs So in that
sense it is quite different Of course, where we had been before was a pasture, and there
were no trees We had to plant the trees around the house and keep fertilizing and watering
We hoped they would grow in that terrible soil in Indiana They did grow, but not fast
enough Here we have such nice big trees around I really like that about Gainesville
J How large was your lot in Indiana?
H That was a little more than a half acre, and now we have an acre and a half It is half woods
We did not realize the lawn was that big In fact, the last time we saw the house before we
moved we wondered if we should move the riding mower with us We concluded yes, we
should After I first mowed it I realized that I would not have made it were it not for the riding
mower [If you pay some lawn-care service to do it] you get charged twenty-five or fifty
dollars extra for bringing a riding mower because it takes a lot of room on a van We could
not have gotten the thing mowed [without it]
J Dr Hoffer, I have asked you a lot of questions There is a lot more that I would like to ask
you However, I know that we need to conclude this particular series of tapes But before we
do, I would like to ask you two more things One, is there any particular part of your life or
any experience or any thoughts that you would like to share that we have not already talked
H Nothing comes to mind I will probably think of something tomorrow
J OK The next question is, is there anything in your life that, if you could do over again and do
it differently, you would?
H I do not think about that question a lot First of all, you cannot [redo the past] I guess maybe
I am too much of a realist [to worry about] the things you do that you wish you had not done
Sometimes you say mean things or did not intend to sound mean, and you wish you had not
done it I think we have all done silly things like that that we wish we could retract I do not
think there is anything major What you do is try to make the best of it and go on It is like
asking, "How would your life be different if you had three arms?" Well, it would be different,
but it is hypothetical, and I do not really worry a lot about that I have seen people who ask
themselves, Am I completely fulfilled? They get up every morning and wonder, Am I as
happy as I can be? If you do this a couple of years, probably some morning you are probably
going to say no [laughter] In a way, they are asking an impossible question, because you
really cannot answer that That is a hypothetical question, and you cannot really pin down an
answer I am not trying to cop out, but I think that is the way I think
J Thank you for all the time that you put into this