A native Caribbean Islander, Professor Franken was born and raised on the island of Aruba, where he used to go snorkeling and spear fishing for two to five hours at a time. His tastes and talents are greatly influenced by the diverse musical and cultural influences he enjoyed there — specifically Brazilian, Latin, Afro-Cuban and native Caribbean music. He speaks and writes English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento languages.
As an assistant professor at Olivet, he teaches courses in jazz theory, 20th century pop music and church music. He also directs the Jazz Combo, Guitar Orchestra and the faculty jazz concert each semester. One of his greatest pleasures is playing in concert with students and other music faculty members.
His full-time professional music career began when he was 17, working as a guitarist with orchestras and Salsa bands at hotel resorts and clubs. Since then, he has been performing professionally and teaching in various settings, including private studio, clinical and higher education.
Currently, Professor Franken is active as a clinician, teacher and freelance performer with various bands. He was featured on Channel 38, Chicago's premier Christian television station, in the late 1980s. In 2006, he received "Outstanding Recognition" at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival. He also consults with a variety of churches with the goal of improving their worship music and bands.
When he's not teaching or playing music, you may find him riding his new motorcycle (just for fun), snorkeling in Aruba or reading a book by Richard Evans or Nicholas Sparks. His favorite activity, which he spends many hours doing in the summer, is in-depth study of the Scriptures. He also enjoys delving into the writing of theologians.
He and his wife, Sherry, are the parents of two adult daughters, Natalie and Molly — who are both married — and grandparents of five grandchildren.