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Where are they now? Dr. David M. Royse

By Ed Waggener

Dr. David M. Royse, a 1977 Adair County High School graduate, is now Coordinator and Associate Professor of Music Education at the School of Music, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. He's a special Adair County success story: Successful in academics, with a Ph.D. in Music Education; successful in family life, with a wife and children he adores and family here in Columbia he dearly loves; successful in life, enthusiastically doing the things he wants to do. And, he's an author, frequent lecturer, and innovator in his chosen field of music education.

Dr. Royse is beginning his fourth year at the University of Tennessee. His current post followed a 10 year tenure in a similar post at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He was in Columbia last week visiting family and friends and researching Revolutionary War Soldier Solomon Royse at the local library.

He is the son of James and Zona Royse of Columbia. He's very close to them. They provided the primary inspiration for his drive to succeed in academic pursuits. "My parents instilled in me the value of education and supported my efforts throughout my many years of schooling," he said.

Dr. Royse has fond memories of Columbia and Adair County. "I value having grown up with a small-town sense of community and belonging. I am and forever shall be an Adair Countian."

He remembers the things here which are now so important to him. There was his family, which includes his parents, and his two sisters, Linda and Jean, and his brother, John. There were other special family members: His grandmother, Mollie Royse and her sister, his great aunt, Ruth Wilson; and his great uncle, Edgar (Puss) Royse. And just over in Russell County were his maternal grandparents, Ivy and Bessie Bradshaw.

There was the small but close-knit Columbia-Union Presbyterian Church family.

There were special friends at Adair County High School. His close friends were David Hutchison, Bernie Bricker, Janie Wilson, and Suzanne Wells, and cousin, Mark Royse. All were school leaders, and all were "good kids."

The Adair County schools were also important to him. He had special teachers here, especially Bill and Mary Anne Chinn. "I have high regard for all the other fine ACHS faculty," he said. "I felt very prepared for college-level work upon graduation." The Chinns were most influential in helping him decide to pursue a career in music, he added. "Most of my free time was spent with band activities and other band members."

Dr. Royse fondly remembers the band trips the Marching Indians took to Washington, DC, in 1976 and to Walt Disney World in 1977, and the very special good times he had with buddies. He remembers the music his group enjoyed. "We were disciples of Southern Rock - Lynrd Skynrd among others - the Doobie Brothers, Chicago, and other pop groups. He and his buddies acquired a group name, "The Cabin Boys," because they liked to camp at the log cabin on Great Uncle Edgar's farm. "We had a lot of fun there," he says.

After Adair County High School, Royse went to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He was as a graduate assistant in Bands at APSU while completing a Master's Degree in Music Education.

For three years he was Director of Bands at Bremen High School in western Kentucky. That was followed by a stint at Kent State University, from 1985 to 1988. He then served as Director of Bands at the prestigious Russell High School in Russell, KY while finishing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Music Education at Kent.

Dr. Royse has a fondness for libraries, probably because he met his wife, Molly, in Hutchins Library at Berea College in Berea, KY, while he was attending a summer institute for teachers there in 1989. She was leading a library tour for his group, he says.

They were married one year later, on June 16, 1990, at St. James Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. They have two children, Laura Jane, 10, and Paul, 8. The children have been an unmatched joy. "Becoming a father was special beyond words," he says, and today, he counts his family as his major pre-occupation. "I have few other hobbies outside my work and family," he says.

Molly Royse is now Humanities Coordinator for the University of Tennessee Libraries. "We are very happy in Knoxville and with our jobs at the University of Tennessee," he said. The school is closer to her hometown, Montgomery, than was the case at previous locations. And Dr. Royse thinks he can fulfill an ambition to implement a Ph.D. program in music education at UT.

Dr. Royse is a published author. Already he has co-authored--with Drs. Angela Batey and Marvelene Moore--the book "Classroom Management in General, Choral and Instrumental Music Programs," which was published by Music Educators National Conference, Reston, VA, in 2002.

He wants to write a textbook one day for his undergraduate music education courses. And he wants to do more research, especially in the field of noise-induced hearing loss among music students and teachers. "That has publication possibilities as well," he says.

After that, and someday, he might come back to Adair County. "It's possible once my wife and I retire," he said. If he does, he'll likely spend a lot of time in the Janice Holt Giles Memorial Library Genealogy Room. They have the resources for his high interest in genealogy.

"I'm really impressed," Dr. Royse said of the facility and the service he was getting from the staff at the Genealogy Room, adding, "I found the resources to be excellent. The librarians were extremely helpful."

He had learned that Solomon Royse was buried in Blair Cemetery. But with the help of a call to Jim Blair and research in local maps, he found that the Blair Cemetery he was looking for was not in Adair County, but Russell County. "It was in Adair at one time," Mrs. Jessee told him, but it was part of Adair County which went into Russell County when it was formed.

Dr. Royse was also impressed with the level of scholarship at the library. "I've got to meet this guy Michael Watson who's been writing all this," he said. ("All this" is the body of literature about Adair County which Mr. Watson has written, including his 524-page, 2001 publication, "An Adair County, Kentucky History : Volume 1.")

Dr. Royse hasn't yet found the Solomon Royse grave site. "I'm still working on it," he said, adding, "Finding that headstone is going to be a great challenge."

For friends who want to contact Dr. Royse, addresses and numbers follow:

David M. Royse, Ph.D.Coordinator and Associate Professor of Music Education School of Music211 Music BuildingUniversity of TennesseeKnoxville, TN 37996-2600 Office: 865-974-7526, Fax:

This story was posted on 2003-08-02 10:21:42
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Dr. David M. Royse

2003-08-02 - Columbia, KY - Photo Ed Waggener. Dr. David M. Royse was researching Revolutionary War Soldier Solomon Royse in the Genealogy Room at the Janice Holt Giles Memorial Library in Columbia on Saturday, July 26.
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