Mu Phi Epsilon
Dallas Alumni Chapter

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From time to time I have interviewed members of our chapter so that we can get to know each other better.

Interview with Tena Hehn
by Mary Williams

Mary: When did you join the Dallas Alumni Chapter?

Tena: I joined as soon as we moved here in May 1976. Frances Stuart and Laura Nell Mitchell knew I had moved here, so made sure I paid my dues fast! Not that I would have considered otherwise; I had visited the chapter twice as Province Governor and knew several of you, so was looking forward to "friends" in Dallas.

Mary: What Mu Phi Epsilon offices have you held?

Tena: I have been active in all the chapters I have joined - Treasurer, Vice President and President in Denton. Here, I have been Secretary, Vice President, President and yearbook editor for several years. Nationally, I have been privileged to serve in several capacities as listed in the yearbook.

Mary: What would you like to see in our chapter or Mu Phi generally?

Tena: I would like to see us celebrate our 100th year of existence (and beyond) with a renewed spirit and many collegiates affiliating with alumni chapters as well new members joining the Fraternity. I think it gives us all a sense of unity and purpose in service to music to belong to Mu Phi Epsilon. Did everyone notice the Mission of MFE on p. 3?[of our yearbook]  Even I didn't realize the IEB had reworded our former Aims and Purposes. I like the spirit of this statement and fully believe it, even before I became a member. We need to take these words to heart and encourage young people and each other to continually develop artistic endeavors.

Mary: Tell us about your musical background.

Tena: As a child, my mother said I was always listening to records. I would try to pick out tunes on the piano in the church basement. My greatest surprise one day just before 3rd grade was walking into our dining room in this old 3-story house in Fredericksburg, Texas (LBJ's grandfather had built it) and finding this huge old black upright piano sitting there! I just stood there and cried. We found a teacher just around the block, a German lady named Miss Jaye Hein; I studied with her for 2 years before we moved to Houston. I had lost track of her, but on a mini-vacation to Fredericksburg 4 years ago, I found her name in the directory and went to visit. We have since corresponded, but mainly talked on the phone. She is retired and incapacitated with a hand injury, but she has been fascinating to "revisit;" she enjoys discussing my teaching, children in general, literature, how teaching and students have changed, just anything.

In our move to Houston, we found Ronald Miller with whom I studied until college. The old upright was replaced by a Baldwin spinet that lasted through four of us practicing for several years. I started organ lessons in 7th grade, because our church pastor saw a need for an assistant organist; during summers, I substituted at area churches - best job ever! As a teenager, I played on some wonderful organs! Thank goodness I could sightread! I started playing clarinet in junior high and by 8th grade was accompanying other student solos and am still doing so today.

In 1965, I enrolled at North Texas State University in Denton as it was known. I was on full scholarship for 4 years; in "those days", tuition was $75 per semester and you could take as many hours as you wanted. Music fees were $50 per semester and as a scholarship student included 2 years of lesson on a secondary instrument-what a bargain! I studied 2 years with Jack Roberts; to this day when I see him, I feel like a little freshman quaking before the giant. He was temperamental and demanding, but I always breezed through juries and learned a lot from him. When he left to work on a doctorate, I switched to Richard Cass who was kind and gentle. I just saw him at the Cliburn Competition - he's still that way and even better looking! I gave a senior recital when I was 7 ½ months pregnant in August 1968, had Glen in October, student taught the spring semester and received a Music Education degree with honors in 1969.

My main musical activity the last 25 years is teaching. Upon moving here in 1976, I opened the studio and am still at it, now teaching the children of former students. Along the way, I accompanied for Eugene Conley and his studio at UNT for several years, substituted as organist, and now am organist at our church, Oak Cliff Presbyterian. I played the Lay Family Organ at the Meyerson with the DeSoto Band 2 years ago. When in Alexandria, LA for 3 years, I was involved with The City Park Players, a community theater group that presented 4 musicals per years; I was the orchestra. Sometimes there was a drummer and other instrument or two, but it was great fun. We'd stage a production in 6 weeks with 14 performances over two weeks time - they were amazingly talented performances over two weeks time - they were amazingly talented actors and singers. I also worked with the Red River Opera Company; the company was about the same playing "The Music Man" with a small orchestra, "Cosi Fan Tutti" and "The Mikado" - I was highlighted in the local newspaper for that one. I never thought I could play music like that; I keep telling my students you never know what might happen to you when you get into music you meet the neatest people and get to have the most fun.

Mary: What type of music do you prefer?

Tena: I love piano, organ, harpsichord, and opera - basically a classical musician. I am not primarily a soloist, but I admire so many of the artists I am lucky enough to hear these days.

Mary: How did you meet your husband?

Tena: We met on a road trip home to Houston in April 1966, my freshman year. Ronnie lived there and was taking Greg to visit Houston for the first time; I had a summer job interview. I thought Greg was so neat - he was an Air Force brat who had lived many places and was SO different from anyone I had ever been allowed to date (yes, my mother was a "controller"; now you know where I get it!) We had two flat tires on the way back to Denton and they had to borrow money from me to get the second one fixed. The next weekend, Ronnie took me out, became ill, and Greg took me back to the dorm; then, we began dating and married in February 1968. Somehow, we are still together, but that is always subject to change.

Mary: What are your musical activities now and how do you manage to do all that?

Tena: Currently, I teach 34 students twice weekly, serve as church organist at OCPC, play for Duncanville Rotary Club on Tuesdays early, early morning (7 AM), accompany band solos in the spring, and other performances as asked. It has been especially fun the last few years to play for the weddings of former students.

In the music teacher organizations, I have served in many capacities as an officer or chairman. Currently, I'm DMTA theory chair-man for the 6th year; we have about 500 students take the tests each semester; in Dallas Southwest MTA, I am Program and Ensemble chairman. I also chair the 5th District South Zone Federation Festival, am active in Junior Pianists Guild and a member of the American Guild of Organists. Every job in these organizations is a big one, because we offer our students opportunities to excel in performance, musical knowledge and musicianship. These take a lot of time in addition to teaching, but I never had these as a young person and I think they are very important to a student's overall growth whether they stay in music or go into other fields.

As far as managing, I make use of a big wall calendar where everything is written down, just like a diary and a to-do list; our life history is on these. My office is state-of-the-art with machines, computers, etc. - now if I could find anything in these piles of papers on my desk! A geologist might strike oil if he dug down far enough - I just need a good secretary because I get busy doing things; actually, I need to clone myself and am willing to offer whenever they are ready with that research. Additionally, these fast fingers are good for more than piano playing! My real secret to getting things done is an attitude of "whatever it takes, I will get it done"; that's why I'm here answering questions at 3:00 in the morning with lessons to teach at 8:30.

Mary: What other interests do you have besides music? How do you spend your time?

Tena: I LOVE to read-books, newspapers, and my professional magazines, but never have or make enough time to read as much as I'd like. I love dachshunds - two black and tans who are mother/daughter have lived with us 9 years; Texas A and M (I was raised an Aggie, so my blood runs maroon); and movies. Greg and I are real movie-buffs, but don't see as many as we once did.

Mary: Tell us about your family and family background.

Tena: I come from strong German stock, trading a long German maiden name, Wahrmund, for a short German name, Hehn. The Wahrmunds were one of the founders of Fredericksburg and made peace with the Indians; the name is on building plaques and in photos around the town. Tena was my maternal great-grandmother's name; that side is mainly Scot-Irish. My mother and best friend died in 1986 of multiple myeloma; my father is 79 and in Kruse Village, an assisted living facility owned by the Lutheran Brotherhood and Blue Bell family in Brenham. I am the oldest of four children, all born two years apart and college graduates. Judy is a math teacher in Irving, Honi now works as a volunteer hospital chaplain in Houston, and baby brother Hank who just turned 49, works for Christus Hospitals in Houston. I have been told I was unmercifully bossy when we were growing up; I'm sure this is just a figment of their over-active imaginations--bossy, moi?!! Greg and I have one son, Glen, residing in England with his wife, Joanna and her two sons, James 15 and Daniel, 13.

Mary: Anything else we should know about you?

Tena: As a Taurus, I am conservative, stubborn, resistant to change, task-oriented and posses a very strong work ethic (if there's a job to be done, I'll do it!) I am a news junkie and try to stay informed on many areas. Greg says I have made his life very pleasant and many parents have said I am very patient with their children. I'd like to slow down a bit, to travel and see more of the world - our trips to Germany and England have been so wonder-filled, just seeing places from history and books. Meanwhile, I just keep on teaching and playing, trying to spread the joy and beauty of music to others.

Mary: Tena, thanks so much!

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Ashley Kimmel:
Website - Mary Williams:
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Programs - Tena Hehn - and Mary Ann Taylor -
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