The Ties that Bind: Navigating Dual Passions with Luke Herbermann ’21

When art meets engineering, unexpected harmonies emerge. Luke Herbermann ’21 found the balance in blending a rigorous study of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering with a deep passion for music and classical guitar.

But how did music and marine engineering coexist? Luke credits Webb for instilling discipline, positive study habits, and creative thinking. Whether playing music or working on the NYC Ferry system, Luke proves that creative hobbies like music not only enrich life but enhance professional skills. Read on to get a glimpse into a life that nurtures two worlds.


Can you share how you developed an interest in music and how this coexisted with your studies at Webb? (Was it difficult?)

I had the most amazing classical guitar teacher growing up. His name was Joe Smith and he was a phenomenal storyteller and musician. Ironically, I’d often be a bit reluctant to go to my lessons, but when I got there he found a way to inspire me. Joe Smith only once performed solo at those guitar ensemble recitals and I think that one solo performance was the first time I was ever really moved by music. I had no idea he could sing, but he got up and sang “Send in the Clowns” with a classical guitar accompanying him.  

While at Webb it was easy to see how studying music years before shaped my positive study habits and my creative thinking. I was lucky enough to have several classmates also interested in music. We’d play in the Webb Jazz band together, sing in WooFS together, and sometimes we’d procrastinate by jamming out late at night. We also organized one of our humanities electives to be a Music Composition Class. Between the music I was playing on my own, the clubs I was in, and the composition elective, it almost felt like I was pursuing a minor in music. I wouldn’t say keeping up with it all was easy, but it definitely was worth it. 

What did you plan to do with your degree from Webb?

I wanted to work for a firm that operates and maintains vessels. I also wanted to be around NYC for its iconic music scene. I recently hit the jackpot and landed my dream job working for the NYC Ferry system. I am forever grateful for the valuable skills, connections, and life lessons Webb taught me. Without Webb, It’s hard to say if I would be as excited about my career as I am now. 

How is it balancing your passion for music and your education in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering?

The truth is, I do prioritize my career over my music. Luckily, because of the nature of the music industry, I rarely have to sacrifice musical opportunities. My rehearsals and shows are nearly always at night. Also, my musical inspiration often comes alive late in the evening, which is when I write and record. I do have to be careful about burnout. I’ve learned to schedule breaks in my musical activities to fully recuperate before diving back in. 

What role do you feel Webb played in shaping your journey as a musician or individual?

Webb taught me that many things that seem impossible, are not. Having that recognition is key to learning new things and getting better at what you do. I wrote a lot of bad songs when I first started and I was worried I’d be a bad songwriter forever, but with practice and patience my songwriting definitively improved over the years. At least I like where my songwriting is headed, but maybe others disagree. That’s another thing I learned while living and working in a tight community. You’ll never get everyone to completely agree on something. This is especially true in the music world where things are subjective.

What advice do you have for Webb students on life after graduation? 

What’s been surprising to me are the number of similarities between life as a student and life in the workforce. If you want to get to know people, join a social club. If you want to learn, be curious and ask questions. In other words, the behaviors and habits you foster in school sometimes carry through into your adulting life.