“Music has always been a really good release and source of friendship for me. Everything I know about percussion I learned at Washington College,” says Nicole Robinson `11.
Nicole began percussion lessons with Assistant Professor of Music Kenneth Schweitzer her freshman year. Already proficient on piano and guitar, she began playing in the Afro-Cuban Ensemble using hand drums and a traditional wooden box instrument. Then she honed her new skills in a beginner jazz combo; their first gig was at the local public library. Eventually Nicole learned to play a drum set and performed with the Big Band and Jazz Combo groups.
“It’s all about playing different rhythms,” says Nicole, who also learned the congas, bongos, bata drums, clave and shekere. “Afro-Cuban music is in a different time signature – it’s usually in a count of three and has a lot of crazy poly-rhythms.”
In her senior year Nicole enrolled in Music Technology, a course taught by Schweitzer in the new Keyboard and Technology Laboratory of the Gibson Center for the Arts. Using the latest MIDI controllers and Ableton Live software, she experimented with her own compositions, recording, and mixing music and video.
“Beyond music, I’ve always been passionate about the environment,” observes Nicole, a biology major with a chemistry minor. In her sophomore year she joined the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA) to help raise awareness of environmental issues on campus and in the region. A highlight was traveling to the Florida Everglades to help clear trails and camp out.
The summer before her senior year, Nicole interned for credit with the Sassafras River Association, just north of Chestertown. Water quality monitoring with the Riverkeeper included boat trips to measure pH and dissolved oxygen levels. This research shaped her “mini-thesis” about how fertilizer and farm waste produce algae blooms that result in fish kills.
Currently Nicole has a paid internship with the Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources, working for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. Funded by theChesapeake Bay Trust, this program offers career and leadership training for people interested inenvironmental careers.
“All my science courses, internships, SEA, and what I’m doing now are my stepping stones into environmental conservation and education,” she says. “Last May I also bought a drum kit so that I can keep playing on my own and stay involved in the music scene.”
Valedictorian of her class, Nicole received the Biology Department Special Recognition Award and the Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize for scholastic excellence as a science major who has “an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities.”
- Student Environmental Alliance
- Big Band Combo
- Jazz Combo