A Christmas Gift
By 12th Grader Elaina Van Duyne
Music is often said to be a universal language that connects the entire world, and Johnathan Robinson believes no different. Robinson began his musical journey when he was in sixth grade, after receiving his sister’s old trumpet, and played the instrument until he reached his freshman year of high school. He switched to the clarinet after receiving one as a Christmas present from his parents and has been in love with it ever since.
Robinson’s musical inclination was not unusual for the young people in his family; both of his sisters played instruments in the school band when he was a kid, so it made sense for him to follow the same path. Joining the band himself allowed him to go on new adventures that have stuck with him for several years, and he believes they always will remain there. “One of my favorite memories from childhood would be my first time on an airplane. My high school band went on a trip to perform at the Midwest National Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago. Staying in a hotel with friends, performing at this huge conference, and flying to Chicago in the middle of winter will always be some of my favorite memories,” he says.
Although music and performance is the career path that he has chosen and loved for so many years, Robinson is also largely invested in the political world. “If I weren’t a musician, I’d probably be a politician all the way! Being a gay, black male, social justice and equality have always been important to me. Civic engagement is an active form of participation, and I’d be thrilled to serve and do my part,” he says. Although he has had several opportunities to perform and study outside of the United States, he still hopes to retire back to his home state of North Carolina when the time comes.
Not only has musicianship revealed a vast array of performance opportunities to Robinson, it has also allowed him to step foot into the world of education. Robinson has worked at ASA for many years, and he uses his position as a teacher to inspire and encourage young musicians as well as provide guidance on healthy and successful playing techniques. It is obvious to any student of his that he does whatever he can to provide supportive, honest, and helpful feedback, and that he loves to do so. His positive and motivated attitude in the classroom extends to his students, and they share the same excitement for music that Robinson has had for years. Along with the student-teacher relationships, Robinson has made many of his closest friends thanks to the art. “When you’re a music major in college, you spend hours with people in studio class, practice rooms, large ensembles, chamber music groups, dress rehearsals, recitals, etc. You’re almost never alone, so it’s nearly impossible not to have close friends,” he says.
Through the great travels and strong relationships that music has given to him, Robinson has learned that the Christmas present from his parents was a greater gift than just an instrument; it presented him with an open door through which he would discover a life-long passion.