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Esky’s Robinson named Band Teacher of the Year

Courtesy photo Laura Robinson conducts an honors band comprised of students from different school districts. Robinson was recently named District 14 Band Teacher of the Year by the MSBOA.

ESCANABA — Escanaba Area Public Schools’ High School Band Director Laura Robinson was recently named District 14 Band Teacher of the Year by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA).

“We are very proud of our very own, Laura Robinson, being awarded this distinction. Her efforts with our students go above and beyond expectations and our district is very lucky to have her sharing her talents and expertise,” said Escanaba High School Principal Darci Griebel.

Each district in the MSBOA chooses a band and orchestra teacher they feel has shown excellence in teaching, involvement, and how they inspire their students.

“I want to instill a love of music first and foremost. Music is a vital part of life,” said Robinson. “… teamwork, responsibility, peer support and acceptance, self expression, sense of belonging, learning how to problem solve quickly, organization, and kindness. Any student that has had my class knows the saying, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice’.”

A band works together toward a goal. What the person sitting next to you does in preparation either helps, or hurts another musically. In that, Robinson sees music as a critical skill for students.

“Many times I will share little bits of advice and they’ve become known as ‘Life Lessons,’ and to this day students, current and former, will bring those up to me,” said Robinson. “Yes, I want them to love music, and I want them to be good people.”

From a young age Robinson loved music thanks to her grandmothers, who sang and played piano or organ. She was involved in band during grade school, but thought she wanted to be an archeologist.

“I had to work at it (music),” she said. “I attended Seminar Summer Music Camp at Western Michigan University for two summers.”

In eighth grade, while touring with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Germany, Robinson decided she would always have music in her life.

“Between the beautiful music, the Bavarian countryside, and the people surrounding me, I clearly remember thinking I wanted to have music in my life forever…somehow,” she said.

In high school Robinson thought she would be in journalism and photography, but as she visited colleges and universities she found herself visiting each institution’s music department.

“It was in my senior year, late fall, when I told my parents I wanted to go into music education,” said Robinson. “The minute I was honest with myself about that, I knew I had made the right choice. No looking back since.”

The two summers at WMU convinced Robinson she was meant to enroll there for her undergraduate degree. She continued at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where she received her masters degree.

Robinson has been awarded a USA-Japan Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Japan, performed at the Aspen Music Festival and several other performing venues, guest conducted around the Midwest, and currently is principal oboist with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. She mainly plays oboe, then English horn, piano, and studied African Hand Drumming.

“As a band director I do play all of the band instruments and a few others, with varying levels of proficiency,” Robinson noted.

Robinson started working in Escanaba in 1991.

“Over my time in the Escanaba Area Public Schools, I’ve come to know Laura as a caring, enthusiastic music educator who gives 100% for her students and for the Fine Arts programs in our district,” said Escanaba Superintendent Coby Fletcher. “She is an amazing, positive influence and is well deserving of this award.”

While following her path of music Robinson has had many inspirational people affect her life, grade school music teachers, Dee Dee Tibbits, Barb Holzworth and Jerry Zuercher. In college Richard Suddenforf and Pat Dunnigan were professors she attributed to helping her elevate her knowledge and directing skills. Robinson thanks God for Jay Crouch, the director she student-taught with at Niles Brandywine.

To the graduating seniors of 2020 Robinson would like to say the following, “Be brave. Believe in yourself. It’s not about making mistakes, we all do, it’s about how you recover from those mistakes. Be kind…and hug your parents.”

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