Touching the Notes

Story posted March 14, 2016 in News by Roger Van Scyoc

Touching the notes

By Roger Van Scyoc

Steven Hankle knew he wanted to make music his life after hearing his father sing. Growing up in Chicago, Hankle listened to his father, who sang in a quartet, play Whitney Houston and rhythm and blues. He said he just liked singing; he didn’t know why.

Hankle earned a scholarship to play basketball at San Francisco State University. He also sang. But he realized he wanted to teach music after going on a music exchange program to Cuba.

The Cuban students Hankle’s class was performing for got stalled on a road. Their bus broke down, but it turned into an unforgettable experience, Hankle said.

“We got in a circle and starting singing a common song,” he said.

The political tensions between the two nations seemed irrelevant in that moment, he said. The music bonded them. Sharing their art and their experience brought them together.

It also spurred Hankle to become a conductor.

Hankle, who earned his doctorate at Florida State University, now teaches at Penn State. He said he loves creating new memories every time he and his students work together.

“The choir just transforms,” Hankle said.