Leetsdale man blends profession with passion for performing

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

David Ford has two performance places: his speech pathologist office in Glen Osborne and a theatrical stage.

Ford, 25, has found a way to blend his profession as a speech pathologist with his passion for live theater.

The actor — a 2005 Quaker Valley graduate — works as a speech pathologist at Straka & McQuone Inc., where he focuses on repairing voices of patients through an array of techniques, including vocal exercises.

He also performs in community theater productions across the region.

His path to becoming a speech pathologist might not make sense until he explains it.

In college, “I was thinking I wanted to do something with theater,” said Ford, who went to Washington & Jefferson College before transferring to Duquesne University, where he later graduated.

While a theater career was an option, Ford said, he worried about the lack of a stable work environment.

“I was desperately looking for a way to combine my talents — my personal passion with a profession, and that's when I started thinking about working with people who use their voice,” Ford said.

Few people realize the importance of proper vocal health, Ford said.

“It's more than just vocal chords; it's about breathing,” he said. “It's about coordinating that breath with what's coming out of your voice box.”

From recording artists to teachers and children, Ford said, he has worked with a variety of individuals who all have had different needs.

With allergies, various cancers, strokes and other issues that could affect vocal uses, Ford said, he stresses the importance of the voice.

“If a grandparent can't talk in a high-pitch voice for their grandkids or can't talk in character voices for them, that's hard,” he said.

When he's not working, the Leetsdale resident likely is busy rehearsing scenes for a show.

In June, Ford will perform in “Brigadoon” in Washington County.

Like his happenstance entry into speech pathology, Ford said, he didn't realize he enjoyed live theater until after being cast in a high school production of “The Pirates of Penzance.”

“I had never even seen a musical before,” he said. “I was just a dumb jock until around 2003-2004.”

A classmate of Ford's heard him singing in choir class and suggested he try out for the musical, Ford recalled. He was cast as one of the leads in the show.

‘I was hooked,” Ford said. “I got the musical bug. Still to this day, it's my favorite show.”

Ford said he credits his friends and family with helping him realize he wanted to return to the region after a year away from home.

“If I didn't really make connections with people, I'd probably end up somewhere around the world,” he said. “But it's the little things you miss when you're away from home.

“When I was in high school, I always said I wanted to retire here. Everybody always said, ‘I can't wait to leave.' Well, they're all coming back now. They all realize what they're missing.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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