Retired music educator reflects on fatherhood

Tilman Hovland

RUGBY – Tilman Hovland, Rugby resident since 1962, has spent decades instructing area youth in their musical endeavors while walking on his own journey through fatherhood. After nearly 40 years in education, Hovland is retired and gets to enjoy the fruits of his legacy in his sunset years.

Hovland was between his sophomore and junior year of college at Minot State University when he and his wife, Kay Hovland, brought their first child, Rich, into the world. Hovland taught band and choir in Berthold while attending school and later moved to Towner and was an educator there for four years.

With three children in tow – Rich, now 4 years old, alongside his two younger siblings, Anne and Rob, ages 3 and 3 months, respectively – the family made their way to the town of Rugby. Hovland picked up a job with Rugby Public Schools teaching both junior and senior high music classes and his wife continued her nursing career at the Heart of America Medical Center.

Hovland emphasized the importance of setting high expectations and it was a house rule that each child had to play an instrument in addition to playing piano.

“It was something I always pressed – do your very best. That was one of the things I always stressed to music students – don’t be satisfied with just getting by. You want to do a little bit more so you can accrue more knowledge and ability,” Hovland said.

“He was a great role model but it wasn’t that he pushed any values. It was really showing you by example. My brother and I would both tell you the passion he had – whatever you do, put everything you have into it. He was also a very compassionate person. He didn’t ever say to us, ‘You need to do this. You need to do that.’ He showed you and he did it. It was really a leadership by example type of thing, where he instilled in us that whatever you’re going to be involved in, put everything you have into it,” Rob Hovland said.

Tilman Hovland also said it was essential for children to have a connection to the church to develop the ability to determine right from wrong.

“They do have some kind of church background. Kids still need that. We here in Rugby do a good job that way. We still have very good contact between the church and kids that are in school,” he said.

Tilman Hovland stressed the importance of children needing a push at home from adults to reach their full potential.

“He taught us that you can accomplish more than people who are far more talented than you if you outwork them. He taught his students that too. If you practice more than they practice, if you focus more than they focus, if you care more than they care – the people who work the hardest have the most success,” Rob Hovland said.

The love of music didn’t end with Tilman Hovland’s children, but his grandchildren are also musically inclined, Rob Hovland said.

“My kids are far more musically talented than I was. Apparently it skips a generation,” he said. “For the last 10 years the only gift they (Tilman and Kay Hovland) ever want from my kids is for them to come home and just play piano for them. They enjoy that more than anything material.”

When asked what advice he would give to young parents, Tilman Hovland said, “You better have a good idea what you’re projecting them to do and push to make them feel honorable – that they’re doing their very best. Don’t feel badly when one of your children gives you a bad time about disciplining for something they did or something they did wrong because psychiatrists and psychologists find that it’s necessary to push them, not just acceptable behavior but behavior that’s at a higher level. If you don’t encourage them to do that they’re not going to reach that goal of excellence.”

“They had a wonderful run, my parents. I think if you would’ve taken my parents and had them write their goals down when they were 22 years old, they probably accomplished all of them. They wanted to have a family in a smaller town with lots of opportunities yet you could participate in everything. They wanted a lot of music in their life. They wanted their kids to be involved in that, and they got all of that. I think the icing on the cake is that they had grandkids,” Rob Hovland said. “It was your typical small-town America situation.”


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