A Noblesville High School teacher has been named the Outstanding High School Music Educator of the Year by the Indiana Music Educators Association.
Bethany Robinson, who has been teaching music since 2005 at Noblesville Schools, was presented with the honor last month during the Indiana All-State Jazz Ensemble concert, which featured four of her student musicians performing in the top state honor band. Robinson serves as jazz band director and assistant band director at the high school, which has grown from one to six jazz bands.
Robinson, who grew up in Kokomo and now lives in Fishers, said she developed a love for music by playing in a band setting and participated in jazz, concert, pep and marching bands during high school. She said it seemed like a natural fit to be involved in music, describing the experience as the best part of her high school career.
However, Robinson’s personal interest in music also came directly from her parents, who were both musicians. She had initially decided to study bio-medicine, but eventually switched her major to music while attending Olivet Nazarene University, where she eventually graduated.
Robinson said as an educator, she wants students to find themselves in their music. She noted that one thing that helps is the fact that she is a professional bass player, which allows her to continually grow as a teacher and musician.
“I’m constantly learning new things all the time within my own playing, so we’re trying to transfer it within the (four) walls of a school to something that can come alive for them,” Robinson said. “To do that, they have to find a passion and a love for it.”
Robinson’s work with her students and developing the jazz program hasn’t gone unnoticed at the high school.
“Bethany has grown our jazz programming into the national powerhouse it is today through the commitment, expertise and passion she brings to her students and our school every day,” said Craig McCaffrey, principal at NHS. “Her reach and influence extend far beyond the Noblesville community, and we’re so proud and thankful to call her one of our own.”
Robinson said what she enjoys from an educator’s standpoint and seeing students perform is connecting youths to music as a whole.
“It’s really bringing it to life for them,” she said.
Robinson has also earned accolades as a musician and educator and is involved with several associations. She is the chair of the National Association for Music Education Jazz Council and is president of the Indiana Jazz Educators Association.
Robinson was named the 2014 Indiana Jazz Educator of the Year, 2015 Noblesville Schools Teacher of the Year and was a 2016 Indiana Teacher of the Year semifinalist, according to the school district. In addition, Robinson is a two-time national Grammy educator finalist, two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and has served as the keynote speaker at multiple music conferences, including the 2021 Australia National Band and Orchestra Conference.
Robinson, who was also named the Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Hero last year, noted that awards often serve as a personal reminder that “it’s important to share that with other people.”
“It’s very meaningful, but unexpected,” she said.
More on Robinson
Bethany Robinson, who has taught with Noblesville Schools since 2005, is a professional bass player when she’s not busy teaching.
For more about her professional background, awards and upcoming performances, visit bethanyrobinsonjazz.com.