About the School
Jack Joseph Heller
(Nov. 30, 1932-Oct.19, 2016)

Jack HellerJack Joseph Heller, Ph.D., 83, was a successful violinist, conductor, and performing musician; a very influential and prominent researcher in music and music education; and a dedicated educator as well as supervisor and leader of educators. He contributed greatly to our schools, universities, communities and to the professions of music and music education, both nationally and internationally.

A child prodigy violinist, he soloed with the New Orleans Symphony for the first time at age 13, became Assistant Concertmaster of the New Orleans Opera Orchestra at 16, and thereafter began his violin studies with Ivan Galamian. Dr. Heller earned a Diploma from the Juilliard School of Music in violin studies, the M.M. from the University of Michigan (Violin and Music Education), and the Ph. D. (Music Education) from the University of Iowa. After serving the New Orleans Opera Orchestra, he moved to New York, NY, and was a touring violinist with the American Chamber Orchestra, the Mozart Chamber Orchestra, and performed in numerous appearances on radio and television. He continued serving as Concertmaster, Conductor and Music Director with many performing ensembles, including the U.S. Military Academy Orchestra at West Point; Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Toledo String Quartet, and Toledo Youth Orchestra in Ohio; Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Nutmeg Chamber Orchestra in Connecticut; and Tampa Bay Symphony, and Spanish Lyric Theatre in Tampa, Florida. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Heller conducted over 250 major compositions in public performances, ranging from Bach to Wagner.

Following a graduate teaching position at the University of Iowa and teaching in Cedar Rapids schools, Dr. Heller served for 25 years as a music educator at the University of Connecticut, rising through the ranks from Instructor to Full Professor, Chair of Music Education, Acting Head of the Music Department, and finally Associate Dean of the School of Fine Arts. From there he moved to Florida and served the University of South Florida as Chair of the Department/School of Music (1985-1998) and Professor of Music for 25 years, thereafter being awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. He directed 21 Masters and Ph.D. theses/dissertations while serving in these capacities.

Dr. Heller fostered national and international collaborations for research, teaching and learning in music and music education. His research specializations were in the psychology of music, music education and orchestral conducting. He advanced our understanding of music perception and cognition with his empirical research on nonverbal learning, music cognition, and music performance analysis. His publications appeared in many prominent journals, including the Journal of Research in Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Psychomusicology, and Psychology of Music. He served on several editorial boards for landmark publications in these disciplines and contributed noted chapters in the Documentary Report of the Ann Arbor Symposium (MENC, 1980 and 1981), Handbook of Music Psychology (Ed. D. Hodges, 1980) and The New Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning (Ed. R. Colwell & C. Richardson, 2002). In the latter, he served as an editor for the section on research design, criticism and assessment.

His leadership capacities included prominent roles in service to national organizations, such as the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), where he had a lifetime membership and served as Research Chair of the Eastern Division. He was also a member of the Center for Music Education Research, the Society for Research in Psychology of Music and Music Education, the College Music Society, the American Federation of Musicians, American String Teachers Association, and the National School Orchestra Association. He was very active in international music organizations as well. In 1994, as Chair of the 21st Biennial World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME), Dr. Heller challenged the University of South Florida and the Tampa Bay region by bringing this huge international conference to Tampa. As an active researcher, he also presented invited papers to ISME Research Seminars of Research Commissions in Stockholm, Sweden (1990); Nagoya, Japan (1992); Frascati, Italy (1996); Salt Lake City, Utah (2000) and Gothenberg, Sweden (2002).

Throughout all of his professional and personal life, Jack Heller was a dedicated husband to his wife, Judy, father to their three children, David, Mark, and Lynn, and grandfather to his three grandchildren, Ben Lachicotte, Kennedy Lachicotte, and Eden Heller. His many colleagues and friends especially valued his good humor and lasting dedication to music and teaching.