A Spotlight on Dr. Mitchell Robinson

Marina McLerran

Editor, McLerran Journal

Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX


Dr. Mitchell Robinson is currently the Chair of the Music Education Area and Associate Professor at Michigan State University where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate music education courses, advises masters and doctoral research, and supervises student teachers. Dr. Robinson had planned on becoming an educator since the fourth grade and selected Michigan State University (MSU) for its reputation as “one of the better programs in the country.” Throughout his career, he has been awarded several honors including the Heldref Publications Reston Prize (1998), the Individual Research Award from the International NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools (1999), and was the Recipient of the First Annual MSU Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award (2008).

Professor Robinson holds degrees from the State University of New York where he majored in both Music Education and Trumpet Performance (1980), a Master of Music Education from the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut (1983), a Certificate of Advanced Study in Instructional Administration from the State University College at Oswego, NY (1990), and a Ph.D. in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York (1999). His dissertation on “collaborative music in education between higher education and urban public schools” was nominated for the Outstanding Dissertation Award.

After graduating from the State University of New York in 1980, Dr. Robinson accepted a position as the instrumental music teacher at Fairport Central Schools in New York. There, he was responsible for instructing instrumental lessons (5th-12th grade), conducting the junior high concert band, and serving as the assistant director of the high school jazz band. In 1981, Robinson accepted a graduate teaching assistant position at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut where he taught a course in brass instruments, supervised the Instrumental Lab School (4th-8th grade), and served as the assistant conductor for both the Hartt Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Concert Band. For the next decade, Dr. Robinson was the Director of Bands, Music Department Facilitator, and (for one year) Assistant Principal at the Fulton City School District in New York. Among his responsibilities were “coordination and articulation of [the] curricular music program,” budgeting, and community relations.

In 1993, Professor Robinson accepted a position as a graduate teaching assistant for the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York. He was promoted to Ensemble Coordinator in 1996. During this time period, Dr. Robinson oversaw student teachers, advised the collegiate chapter of MENC: The National Association for Music Education, guest-conducted the Eastman Wind Orchestra, and coordinated “all aspects of the wind and string instrument performance ensembles.” Robinson was later appointed the Director of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble (1995-2000), the Instructor of Music Education (1997-1998), the Assistant Professor of School and Community Music Education (1998-2000), the Director of Wind Activities (1998-2000), and an Assistant Professor of Music (1998-2000) at Eastman. From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Robinson worked with both the Connecticut State Education Department and the University of Connecticut as the Assistant Professor of Music Education, Director of Three Summer Music Master’s Program, and with the Scholar-In-Residence for Music for Connecticut’s BEST (Beginning Educator Support and Training) Program.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Robinson has contributed to multiple books on education and regularly submits to professional journals including the Arts Education Policy Review, the Journal of Music Teacher Education, and Music Educators Journal. He has also contributed chapters to multiple educational resources including the Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education, Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom, and What Every Principal Needs to Know to Create Equitable and Excellent Schools. One of his larger projects, Great Beginnings for Music Teachers (2004), was inspired by the noticeable “decrease in mentoring for beginner teachers” that, Robinson feared, was becoming the norm. When he broached the issue with his colleagues from around the country, it was apparent that this was not an epidemic isolated to the northeastern region; young educators around the United States needed support.  

When asked if he had any advice for young educators, Dr. Robinson stated that he usually receives “better advice from young educators” and is “continually inspired and motivated” by new educators’ enthusiasm and drive. He believes that teachers across the United States are “better than they’ve ever been” and advises only that educators should strive to be activists in the field. Professor Robinson places a great deal of importance on public educators’ role in the policy-making process, since those individuals are the “best-equipped to shape the field.” About the future, Dr. Robinson said that there is “work to do in public education” but that he is optimistic that together, educators can affect positive change.


Follow Dr. Mitchell Robinson at https://www.mitchellrobinson.net


Book Suggestions from Dr. Robinson

“Savage Inequalities” Jonathan Kozol

Purchase Here


“Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing” A.S. Neill and Erich Fromm

Purchase Here


“Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom” Lisa Delpit

Purchase Here




Phone Interview on August 16, 2017.


“Curriculum Vitae.” Robinson, Mitchell. Mitchellrobinson.net. N.d. Web. 19 August, 2017.



“Mitchell Robinson.” College of Music. Michigan State University. N.d. Web. 19 August, 2017.