Meet OP’s New Music Teacher: Mr. Van Hoven


James Kim, Staff Writer

Students at Oratory have noticed a new face in room 211. Mr. Van Hoven is the new music teacher who conducts the school’s band and teaches the music appreciation classes. Through the first few weeks of school, students have already gained musical knowledge through Mr. Van Hoven’s skillful teaching. I had the opportunity to ask him many questions regarding his musical experiences and interests.

Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Paterson and lived in Totowa until I was 7. When I was 7 we moved to Wantage Township in Sussex County. I’ve lived my whole life in NJ.

Q: What did you like to do in your childhood?

A: I played soccer from 5th-9th grade and loved it, and could often be found outside with a soccer ball. My father and I used to go fishing nearly every weekend from early spring until autumn.

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: High school – High Point Regional HS in Sussex NJ.

College- Rider University as an undergrad and Montclair State as a graduate student. I’ve also done some coursework toward a doctorate at Drew University.

Q: When did your interest in music begin?

A: So long ago I can’t really remember it… I’ve always loved music, I can remember singing along to the radio when I was very young, and I started playing in the school band in 4th grade.

Q: What instruments do you play?

A: I’ve worked mostly as a bass player and piano player. I played the saxophone in school bands up through college. But as a music teacher, you learn to play just about everything.

Q: Where have you previously worked (as a musician, teacher, etc.)?

A: As a teacher, I’ve been in both public and private schools. The longest I’ve worked was at Morristown-Beard School, where I worked for 9 years. As a musician I’ve worked in 1940s style big bands, and in theatres all over NJ. My first job as a musician came when I was 16, playing in a German band at Action Park (now Mountain Creek)

Q: What were your first impressions of Oratory Prep?

A: It has felt like home from the very start. The students, teachers, and administration have all been incredibly welcoming.

Q: What is your teaching style/What do you emphasize when teaching?

A: I love music, and I want that to come through. To me, there’s nothing greater than helping young people make music, and I want them to do the best they possibly can – which I can guarantee is better than they think is possible. You just have to be willing to try, and then make mistakes, learn from them and move on and get better.

Q: Do you have any goals you want to achieve while at OP?

A: Many. I’d like to see the band grow and improve and to see music be a bigger part of the school community. I’d also like to start a contemporary a cappella group (more on that after Christmas!). There are others too, but you should never show all your cards at once…

Q: What are your favorite songs, musicians, and genres of music?

A: That’s hard to answer… different days/moods call for different things. But I’m a huge fan of the big band era, especially the Count Basie Orchestra, and singers like Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney. But I like classic rock, country, some older pop music, and even some old school rap.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I have 5 children, so most of my “free time” is spent helping them with schoolwork or taking them to soccer and other sports.

Q: Do you have any favorite sports teams?

A: Mets and Giants

Q: What is your favorite place to go on vacation?

A: My wife and I have been taking the kids to LBI for the past 10 years. It’s like a home away from home.


As seen, Mr. Van Hoven is not just a musician; he is a teacher who greatly desires his students to reach their full musical potential. He is passionate about what he does and he enjoys it as well. It is evident that the musicality here at Oratory will greatly improve throughout the school year and in the future.