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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. KEN HICKEN
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Ken Hicken
Ken was raised in Raymond, Alberta. He came to Lethbridge Junior College to teach music in 1966 and became the first full-time faculty in the University section. Ken retired in 1995, and continued to teach music part-time until the end of 1999.
Ken discusses the challenges of interfacing the Music Department’s student educational requirements with the University’s mandate of liberal education.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (email@example.com)
(JT: Jim Tagg, Interviewer)
JT: When we moved to the west side, I can’t remember where you folks were.
KH: We were down in the bowels of the building, at the north end.
JT: Wow, that’s like the galley slaves.
KH: Well of course. Let’s let things go where they belong.
KH: At that time, I think this is worth mentioning, not everybody was pleased with the Music Department because we kept saying, ‘You and your liberal arts ideas are out of sync with what we have to do.’ And with all due respect, there were people there who figured the Liberal Arts were the key to eternal salvation in all areas and which meant, a lot of them figured, when you come to university here’s your chance finally to explore the world! Don’t concentrate on anything for a while, take a year or two, look around, see what’s there! Well, that’s not what musicians do. They did their looking around when they were 10 years old and decided they wanted to become a musician, play the piano or the violin or whatever.
JT: In those early years, I don’t believe there were any requirements. You could take whatever you wanted though too, I think. Couldn’t you?
KH: I don’t know.
JT: In ’68, I think, the ’68 calendar you could. Yes, it had that freedom idea.
KH: Yeah, well this was the whole idea: explore the universe! And then make a decision. Well, that was fine if you were interested in english, or psychology or sociology or basic science. I mean, you don’t have to have started 10 years ago. And that’s not true, because you did start 10 years ago, or more than that, but you started learning the english language and you learned basic mathematics, and you learned all kinds of things, and, which were a prerequisite. You couldn’t do university level work in mathematics unless you had at least done high school work. But there was not the equivalent in music.
JT: Yes, I guess you were kind of on the political outs in Arts and Science there for a while.
KH: We were! They wanted, they thought, ‘Well, you can have one music course per semester.’ And we said, ‘Look we got to have at least three! You've got to have to have music theory. You've got to have music history and literature. You gotta have your performance area. You gotta have to have three!' But, oh yeah, they tried to combine all kinds of these things that we really needed with the things that they figured were really important. And there was just no meeting of the minds, whatsoever. But finally we got to a point that where it was hammered out. We could have 30 music courses out of the 40. Well, that was at least some progress. And then we got it sorted out so I think you could take, oh, two or three music courses per semester, and you sort of fitted in all this other stuff wherever you could. But, oh it was a battle.
JT: That must have been the ’80s before that happened?
KH: Yeah. It was a battle, because the people who espoused the basic liberal arts idea, well they knew what they were on about and they were justified in what they were doing. The only problem was that they did not realize that basically, a basic liberal arts focus and emphasis doesn’t produce musicians.