It didn't take long for Martha Robinson to rise to the top as a recipient of the Lester K. Smith Creative Music Scholarship. As a child, she would sit at her mother's feet as she played the organ at church. "Money was tight at home," she says, "but when I was 9 years old, my mother agreed to let me take piano lessons."
As a teen, Martha continued with music and bought an inexpensive bassoon. She enrolled at NIU and auditioned before world-renowned bassoonist Jim Birkenstock, who was on the faculty at the time. "He saw potential in me and let me in the program," Martha says. Since then, she has played dates all over the Chicago area.
After graduating in 2002 with a bachelor of arts degree in music, Martha moved to Aspen, Colorado, to play with the summer symphony. She later returned to DeKalb to raise her family of four, ranging in ages from 1 to 14, with her husband, Mark, who plays the French horn.
As a nontraditional student, she entered graduate school last year to once again embrace her passion. "Receiving the Smith Music Scholarship has allowed me to play more with NIU ensembles on campus and not worry about taking on outside work," Martha says. "I was also able to continue taking lessons."
Martha graduates next fall after her recital, which her husband is composing. "I hope to continue playing music every day for the rest of my life," Martha says.
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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