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I remember back to the first time I got to see and touch a clarinet up close. My parents had placed me [Mike & Clarinet]in YMCA daycare after elementary school. I made a few friends through the program but I remember one in particular was named Stephen Allen. While I do not remember much about him, I strongly remember the first time he let me see and touch his instrument, the whole time I was thinking how wonderful it was. Sadly, due to the school system, playing one would be another few years off as the next year I was forced to start with the violin. Between my up close and personal view and the persuasions of my grandparent's that turned me into a Benny Goodman fan, I was destined to play the clarinet and began to do so in fifth grade.

Under the direction of Mr. Heidner, the elementary band leader, I learned the clarinet and had a natural talent for it. With fond memories, I remember fondly the second row clarinetist's deciding to start their own second row first chair so that they would not have to compete with me. I even began private lessons for awhile. However, due to the usual childhood desire to not practice I did not accomplish all that I could have. After having Mr. Klingbeil as my middle school instructor, the time came to move to high school and I dropped clarinet lessons, instead continuing on with piano lessons, which I also had a hard time practicing for.

In high school band, I found something that I could really relate to. I enjoyed every minute of it and the feeling of belonging. No other group has produced so many friends and good memories for me. There was a lot of work involved, but I enjoyed it. My first year we were under the direction of Mr. Hemingway and after he had received a lot of criticism, Mr. Belski who had been student teaching under Hemmingway took over. I received several awards varying from most outstanding freshman to most dedicated. Additionally, the Band Director decided to name a recurring award after me, the "Mike Robinson Reset Award," which was a great honor. I participated in various performance ensembles including wind ensemble, marching band, orchestra winds, and concert band.

When I started college, I decided to forego playing in the band to stay focused on my computer science major and keeping my grades up. After freshman year and my religious mission, I returned to school and quickly realized I missed music. So much so that in addition to returning to band, I declared a music minor. I found music history enthralling and enjoyed the fun times I was having in college band. By the end of college, I had been playing clarinet for twelve years.

My current clarinet set-up: Buffet Festival (with auxiliary Eb lever), Vandoren B45 Mouthpiece, Vandoren Optimum Ligature, 66 & 65mm Festival Barrels as well as 65mm Moennig and Chadash Barrels.

For a complete history of my band activities and accomplishments click here.