Michael Hernon spent much of his life (38 years) at the University of Tennessee Martin, loved working with the students, and would have never retired except for health issues. He played in regional orchestras, taught horn students, directed a horn choir, and taught music history, which was a satisfying life. He considered his fine professional career to be capped by the Punto Award − a surprise, shock, and joy. He had no idea that he was to receive the award until his name was called from the stage, but several former students were with him, which made the moment especially satisfying.
Michael taught, in addition to horn and music history, music appreciation, brass repertoire, and pedagogy, attaining the rank of Professor Emeritus. He conducted horn choirs, brass choirs, and recorder ensembles. Prior to his tenure at UTM, Michael was a faculty member of Brescia University and taught in the public schools in Owensboro and Scottsville, Kentucky. He served for many years in the horn sections of the Jackson TN, Owensboro KY, and Paducah KY symphony orchestras.
Michael studied at Murray State University in Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, and Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University), completing his PhD in 1972. Ed Pease, a hornist and musicologist at Western Kentucky who had studied with Willi Apel at Indiana University, inspired Michael in both horn playing and musicology. Michael took great pleasure in teaching music history and published a discography, French Horn Discography, published by Greenwood Press.
Michael particularly enjoyed directing a horn choir of his students, former students, members of the Jackson Symphony, and amateurs. They performed a concert, with up to twelve players, at the end of every semester. Former students include Mary Bisson (who brought Barry Tuckwell to visit) and Dan Spencer, who went on to earn a PhD at the University of Iowa.
Michael retired in 2011 because of his health. He was a lifelong member of the IHS and was presented with the Punto Award at the 2013 IHS Symposium in Memphis.