Howard Jarolde "Jerry" Harris was a professor of Music at Brigham Young University from 1970 until he retired in 1991. Along with his wife Colleen, he witnessed the evolution of the music program. Harris passed away August 18, 2014.
Following service in the Navy, Harris entered college with the intention of studying music. He initially attended Arizona State Teachers College, now Arizona State University, but after a year and half, became dissatisfied with the struggling music program. A Navy friend suggested Harris attend Bethany College, a Lutheran school with a strong music program and experienced teachers. Soon after, Harris received a hand-written invitation from the president of Bethany College, asking him to come to the school. Harris accepted.
Harris went on to graduate school at Northwestern University where he obtained a degree in music education. He enjoyed his studies there and developed a close camaraderie with his classmates, many of whom were war veterans.
Harris’ first job after graduation was at East Texas State College, where he not only taught men’s chorus and private voice lessons, but also oversaw a weekly radio show that was broadcasted locally.
He then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he taught high school for 13 years.
In 1970, Harris arrived at BYU. He taught university chorale, music theory, private voice lessons and conducting. His students included Michael Ohman, a former School of Music administrative staff member, and noteworthy harpist Leslie Brown Bluhm.
Harris notes that during his teaching career, he was more interested in the people he taught than the "product" (or student) that he created.
Another highlight of his BYU career was that he was able to work with his wife, Colleen, who was a vocal performance instructor. They often worked together on projects.
He retired from BYU in 1991, following 21 years of dedicated service.
Harris served a full-time mission in Arkansas as a young man. One of the highlights of his time there was when President Spencer W. Kimball visited the mission and Harris was able to sing with President Kimball providing the accompaniment.
Later in life, Harris served as a bishop, and worked on the General Music Committee for the Church. He was influential in the production of the Children’s Songbook.
Harris and his wife Colleen served as missionaries together in Family History Training Center and the California Ventura Mission.