Chancel Choir Director and Organist
Do you know who has: thought he would teach French; has taught children’s choirs; directed hand bell choirs; directs theatre orchestras, and plays piano and organ? You have probably guessed that I am talking about David Tovey, our church’s Music Director, church organist, adult-choir director. David is embarking on his eleventh year as part of our church family and staff.
David grew up loving music. At the early age of one and one-half years, David’s mother would play their small organ for David when he was crying. Shortly, she would notice that he became still, and began looking intently at her playing. At five years, David began piano lessons. Like all children, he would rather have been doing other things when it was time to rehearse, but guided by his mother, would do that ever-necessary practicing. David’s mother, Marian Tovey, played church organ for years where they lived in Oswego, New York. (It’s no wonder David doesn’t think the weather we’re having is chilly.)
During his senior year of high school, a United Methodist Church across the river from his school, needed an organist. They knew that David played organ and asked if he would want the job. As most high school seniors, he could use and appreciated the position. He loved it! Also that year, his school choir director had to be on leave for three weeks. They could not find a trained substitute, and asked David (a senior) if he would like to lead the choirs (with adult supervision in the back of the room). Again, he took on the responsibility and enjoyed the challenge and opportunity.
These two experiences helped David think that his former desire to study French Education in college might not be the direction he wanted to follow. Growing up, David’s family attended the Lutheran Church, so he chose Hartwick (Lutheran) College for his undergraduate studies with a major in French. However, he decided to continue studies in Music, and went on to Princeton’s Westminster Choir College where he received his Masters Degree in Sacred Music. He enjoyed the opportunity to study with great conductors and scholars such as Shaw, Wagner, and Routley. His PhD in music education was earned at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
David’s first music position was as a High School Music Teacher. Under his tutelage, David’s students won the New York State Choral Competition in 1976 --- an exciting achievement for a new teacher! Later, David moved to LaGrange, Illinois. Living in an apartment in a neighborhood populated by people from Mexico, David learned his third language - Spanish. Later visiting Mexico, he became fond of the country. He observed that even though Mexican Children ran around singing folk-type songs, there was no structured Kodaly training in the schools. (This is the teaching approach that Mary Kepple uses with her classes.) He had studied Kodaly while in Princeton, and had a couple of articles published on his trips and studies of Mexico, where he encouraged Kodaly instruction.
I asked David about his many areas of teaching music and the different ages he has taught. He enjoys all, but it is probably not known that he very much enjoys working with children. For seven years, David worked in a Congregational Church in the Chicago area where he taught seven choirs --- three children’s vocal, three hand bell, and an adult vocal. He was fortunate to work with Helen Kemp --- a well-known children’s choir expert. David then moved to The Ohio State Campus in Mansfield, where he is Director of Choral Music, State Multi-cultural Coordinator for both, the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Ohio Music Education Association. He also teaches Music Education courses and Comparative World Music Cultures and Class Voice in Mansfield, and co-directs campus musical theater productions.
Two years ago, David was blessed in having the opportunity to design the new Recital Hall at O.S.U. Mansfield Campus, which was built for a cappella choral singing. He has had many other accomplishments. Ask David about conducting at The Vatican!
Music is Love in Search of a Word
In his "rare" spare time, he enjoys travel and attending theater.
David has a dream for retirement. Economics and health allowing, he would very much like to study nursing --- medicine would take too long. Knowing of health needs in many areas of Mexico, he has a desire to serve as a medical missionary--- giving something back to a country that has given so much to him.
Loving music, it isn’t a surprise that David’s favorite scriptures are the Psalms --- where there "is expression concerning every human condition." Of his favorite hymns, one that comes to mind is "Now Thank We All Our God." It was a pleasure getting to know more about David. We are fortunate to have his expertise and passion for music as he leads us in worship.