Fine Arts Student of the Week: Peers depend on BHS senior's leadership

"It’s my favorite form of expression. I'd sing all day, every day so I guess it's just a part of me. It just makes me feel like me ," Brainerd High School senior John Toven said.

John Toven
Brainerd High School senior John Toven poses for a photograph during a virtual interview for being named Fine Arts Student of the Week for his work in Windfall and A Cappella Choir. Screenshot

John Toven:

Grade: Senior.

Age: 18.

Art focus: Brainerd High School Choir.

Adviser nomination: “John has been a passionate leader in choir throughout his high school career. He is a member of Windfall, A Cappella Choir and the Minnesota All State Choir. John's peers depend on him for leadership as they learn new parts, and perform better when they hear him in their section. His natural kindness and positive attitude help the whole choral program.”


Memorable fine arts achievement: Getting into the Minnesota All State Choir.

Other fine arts activities: Theater and Chamber Orchestra.

Artist most admired: Adele.

How does singing make you feel? It’s my favorite form of expression. I'd sing all day, every day so I guess it's just a part of me. It just makes me feel like me ...There’s about a half dozen songs stuck in my head at any given time.

What’s stuck in your head right now? I was singing some random TikTok song earlier. I also had some Coldplay stuck in my head. Sometimes I’m just absent-minded and I’ll be doing something and people will say, ‘What’s that song you’re singing?’ And I’m like ‘oh, I was singing?’

How do you lead your peers? Right now, it’s mainly when we do get to sing together when we're recording or in Windfall if we're rehearsing. We rehearse once a week in person in Windfall because there's only 12 of us. I just sing out, and the other guys in my section, like to listen for my voice because I usually know what's going on. And they like to have that support there, so being able to hear the notes that you're supposed to sing while you're singing them is very helpful.

How do you keep yourself motivated? The motivation to do it is a struggle, but then as soon as I start It's hard to stop. You remember how fun it is and you want to do it all the time.

What are you working on now? We're kind of in-between because we just did an online concert. We're working on our technique for warming up and practicing. The Lakes Area Music Festival had a couple of professionals who gave our music teachers videos for tips for their different orchestras, bands or choirs, so we were watching those and going over them. We're not really working on any specific songs right now. In Windfall, we are working on a couple songs, “Until I Met You,” which is also known as “Corner Pocket” and then we're working on an arrangement of “My Funny Valentine.”


What was the online concert about? There is a Brainerd choir alumni who does a lot of recording and has a lot of video and audio equipment, so he came in with his cameras and microphones and recorded us. We stood socially distanced at Tornstrom in the audience and they recorded us from the stage.

What is one thing you want to say about choir? It’s really just a great community, they’re like family. Even though we’re not all together all the time, it feels like we’re a little less connected. Then as soon as we all start singing together and you hear all the sounds, it’s like nothing else.

Dream job: Professional actor.

Favorite movie: “Anastasia.”

Favorite TV show: “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Favorite book: “Eragon.”

Favorite song: Too many to pick.

Favorite band: Imagine Dragons


Favorite restaurant: Perkin’s

Musical you’d love to see: “Phantom of the Opera.”

Perfect meal: Anything hot and homemade.

A place you’d like to go: Europe.

Sports/clubs: Theater.

Hobbies: Crocheting.

Pets: I have two cats, Pocket and JC and a dog, Abu.

City you live in: Sean and Angie Toven of Deerwood.


JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.
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