Faith & Family: Music keeps local educator grounded

Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 29, 2014

By Morgan Mizell

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Terrence Robinson knew from a young age he wanted his life to involve music.

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“I grew up singing in the choir at church,” Robinson said. “It was my dream to one day conduct a large choir.”

For Robinson, who is a teacher at Jefferson County Elementary School, music helped him earn his degree, and is a constant in his faith.

“I was in the choir at Sadie V. Thompson, North Natchez and Natchez High,” Robinson said. “I was not the cool kid, or all that popular, but when I sang I found my safe place, and I was able to get a scholarship to Tougaloo College.”

It was in his time at Tougaloo that he honed his craft and laid the groundwork for music ministry.

“I got involved with Jackson Revival Center Church, which is a multicultural church, and became the assistant choir director,” Robinson said. “Because there was such a mix of cultures, I was exposed to a variety of music and worship styles that I believe gave me all the tools I needed to go forth in music ministry.”

In his time at Jackson Revival Center Church, he became a member of the praise team, the sanctuary choir and founded the Fresh Anointing Children’s Choir.

“I believe that music is a front-line ministry,” Robinson said. “It is important because it prepares the congregation and ushers in the presence of God and that allows for the congregation to receive the minister’s message better.”

Robinson finished Tugaloo in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in music education specializing in voice. He taught in the Jackson Public School District from 2001-2009 and returned to Natchez following the passing of his father and other personal reasons.

“I came home to be near family and start over,” Robinson said. “I taught in Louisiana and Port Gibson for a little while and then came to Natchez-Adams School District.”

During the process of restructuring in the NASD last school year, Robinson lost his job.

“It was a difficult time for my wife, Pamela, and I,” Robinson said. “We had just purchased a house and we were not sure what to do, but I felt that God would make a way.”

It was during this time a friend asked him to join the cast of a production at the Natchez Little Theatre.

“I got a call from a friend to come the theatre and be a part of ‘The Color Purple,’” Robinson said. “It was an amazing experience.”

Robinson quickly became a fixture at NLT and is currently serving on its board of directors and is the musical director of “A Natchez Christmas Carol.”

“It is a cool experience,” Robinson said. “This year’s cast is so talented, and they are a lot of fun and easy to work with.”

For Robinson, music has always been an emotional outlet and a means of encouragement. That is why his position as choir director at St. Mark No. 2 Missionary Baptist Church is such so meaningful.

“It doesn’t matter to me if the music is secular or religious,” Robinson said. “It has a way of soothing me and ministering to me. That is why being the choir director and being able to select the songs means so much because you never know who you will touch through the music.”

Robinson’s love of music began in church, but carries over into his work. While he is not currently teaching music in the classroom, he hopes to do so in the future.

“Music education is so important,” Robinson said. “There are studies that prove music education can benefit a child’s overall education, and I know that there are scholarships available for choir students. That can mean so much to a kid who wants to go to college but may not be able to afford it.”