One of Jamie Henke’s favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
She credits that trailblazing tactic—and the influence of her mentors with that mindset—for her distinguished career in music education. Most recently, she received the Bartell Award in the Arts.
For 26 years, Henke has taught music at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She teaches a music theory course for non-music majors on campus and online for the School of Music. For the Division of Continuing Studies, she teaches noncredit composition and theory courses, reaching out to lifelong learners of all ages.
“Here at the Continuing Studies especially, we explore and go beyond the boundaries of the campus,” Henke says. “We’re always trying to do new things.”
The Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell Award in the Arts honors the achievements of UW–Madison faculty and staff across a broad range of activities and services in the creative arts, including outreach, public service, and other enterprises involving the larger community. Henke will be honored in a May 8 ceremony at the UW Pyle Center.
In all her classes, Henke believes students learn best by doing.
“I introduce concepts, but then have students apply them right away,” Henke says. “My goal for my courses is for students to have enough knowledge and experience so that they are able to have a lifetime of exploring music outside the classroom. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to see music change the lives of people with many different levels of ability and experience.”
Arts for all ages and abilities
Henke’s students range in age from toddlers to retirees, and she knows the power of music at every stage. Henke started at a young age and first learned from her father, who was a professional musician in a big band in the 50’s and early 60’s.
A Wisconsin native and first-generation college student, Henke attributes her accomplishments to a long line of teachers and mentors in her community. She was also inspired by faculty in Continuing Studies at UW–Madison, including Richard Wolf, Chelcy Bowles, and Emily Auerbach—all past recipients of the Bartell Award.
Henke recently worked with Auerbach to institute a program called Literally Arts for preschoolers in Odyssey Junior, part of the UW Odyssey Project for low-income adults who want to earn college credit. She’ll use her $6,500 from the Bartell Award to support Literally Arts.
Adults enrolled in Odyssey can bring children age 2-5 to participate in the program, in which Henke pairs children’s books with art, music, and movement activities. For example, the class read Seals on the Bus, by Lenny Hort and G. Brian Karas, and did accompanying activities. Henke even wrote a rap to go along with the book.
“This might have been the first rap written by a 100 percent German, classically trained musician,” says Henke. “I really get as much out of this as the kids do.”
Henke says the Bartell funds will provide guaranteed support for Literally Arts for years to come.
No coda in sight
Henke’s main instrument is her voice, but she also plays piano, organ, clarinet, and “a little bit of accordion.”
Along with the Bartell award for her community work, Henke has received the Hilldale Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the University Housing’s Honored Instructor award twice, along with being inducted as a Teaching Fellow in the UW–Madison Teaching Academy. She also received a rare 100 percent certification for an online music class from Quality Matters, which establishes standards for online courses.
But Henke’s not resting on her laurels.
“I would love to keep teaching music and learning from my students as long as I can.”
Search the Continuing Studies website for music classes taught by Jamie Henke.