Share Your Passion




Tom Drake (B'56, M'60) awarding the Joliet American Legion Band Scholarship to
Trumpet Major, Robbi Hicks

My journey in music education… It’s been an interesting one! I started playing the trumpet in the fourth grade. I came into the band room that day and there were a few new people in the room. They were specialists there to help us pick what instrument would fit us best. I went to one of the strangers and excitedly told them about how I wanted to be a percussionist. Back then I thought percussionists were the coolest things since popsicles after school. The man tapped a rhythm and told me to tap it back. I tapped what I thought was the right rhythm with utmost confidence! To my disappointment, the man opened his mouth to say, “We’re gonna put you on trumpet”. Here we are a decade later, and I couldn’t be happier that I failed that rhythm test! The trumpet is definitely my soul mate instrument.

I had some pretty rockin’ teachers growing up. My middle school director, Mrs. Megan Moscato-Hoff taught me to be a strong woman and that it’s okay to be emotional about music! I owe so much of what I’ve learned to my high school band director, Mr. Don Stinson. He taught me the importance of timeliness, good leadership, sense of humor, and more. I look up to him as an outstanding musician, educator, and person. He made me want to be a band director so that I could influence students’ lives for the better. I came to VanderCook College of Music solely based off of his recommendation, and I don’t regret it for one second.

I have had so many opportunities here I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. For starters, when I got here I only knew how to play the trumpet and some French horn, now I can say that I can play 15 other instruments. I’ve gotten to meet world-class performers and composers such as David Maslanka, The Boston Brass, Doc Severinson, and many more. In just two years, I’ve performed for the Milton Olive Memorial Service, Constitution Day in downtown Chicago, Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, events at Soldier Field, the Midwest Clinic, and more. Although these opportunities are amazing, I’m most proud of my lesson students. Teaching is what we are all here for.

I’ve received lots of support financially since the start of my schooling, one being the Joliet Legion Band Scholarship. I was surprised with the award after this past year’s Midwest Clinic performance. Looking around the room that night into a sea of fellow music educators, I realized that I am a part of something so wonderful. Because of family medical bills and other personal struggles, the scholarships I receive from VanderCook and other sources are the only reason I’m able to do what I want to with my future. VanderCook is a great place for your money to go. It may seem like you’d only be helping one student, but in all actuality, you’ll be helping the hundreds of students that that one will be able to teach. 


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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