For years, Rosalie Haritun has been introducing classical music to hundreds of college students at IPFW. Haritun, whose methods have been labeled ahead of their time, has loved her work. “Being able to communicate with students, the exhilaration of seeing students grow … I love the mental challenge of having to be 'with it,'” she said.
Haritun, who will retire at the end of this spring semester, has always loved music. “As far back as I can remember, I wanted to play music. I'd sit by the orchestra at Russian weddings as they did their ethnic dances, and I'd listen for hours,” she reminisced.
As a child, Haritun was raised by parents with deep Russian and Slavic roots. “For the first 16 years of my life, I didn't hear any piano or hymn singing (in church),” she explained. Instead, there was a 200-voice a cappella choir, led by a Polish professor. “Heavy, Russian voices filled the church,” Haritun recalled.
Because her school had no music program, her parents paid for private lessons and her first instrument was a saxophone. Later on, the clarinet would become her primary instrument. When the family moved from New York state to Montrose, Penn., Haritun was able to join the school band. Her instructor, Maurice Taylor, wrote the first music methods book for music education majors. “I still have a copy of it,” Haritun said.
After high school, Haritun attended college and received degrees from Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and Columbia University. Her first teaching assignment was in the public schools of Patchogue, Long Island. “I had such a wonderful experience out there – my junior high school band could beat the high school band,” Haritun said. “(The students) liked getting better.”
While teaching in Patchogue, Haritun also served as her church's music, orchestra and choir director, and completed her graduate and doctoral degrees. On the weekends, she would stop by the opera house on 66th street and get a $2 ticket to sit in the “peanut gallery” and watch live opera. Her snack of choice was Nilla wafers and Kool-aid, brought from home.
After Patchogue, Haritun began a career in higher education. She taught at Temple University, East Carolina University in Greenville N.C., and finally, here at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. “I love working with my colleagues,” she said. “It's a rewarding career.”
Her colleagues praise her.
“In the early days, she was the only colleague who understood music therapy!” said Linda Wright-Bower, a fellow professor at IPFW. “It was just amazing to watch her teach.”
“She served the IPFW Department of Music in a number of capacities …” said Robert Bean, chair of the music department . “We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Haritun for her years of service and will miss her greatly."
“It looks like you dabble here and you dabble there,” said Haritun, looking back upon her career, “but you look back, it all creates a path.”