Music education student strives to fulfill lifelong dream

Timmy Roberts, freshman in music education, picked up the string bass in grade school after a teacher noticed his musical control abilities. Roberts said he encourages anyone who wants to pursue music not to think it is only for those who have played an instrument for years because anyone can learn. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

In a world with seemingly endless options and diverse passions to pursue, Timmy Roberts, freshman in music education, said he has known since his first piano lesson in second grade that music was his calling.

Looking back at his childhood in Overland Park, Kansas, Roberts said that northeast Kansas — “a hotbed of amazing teachers” — has greatly shaped him as a musician.

After the piano lessons helped him realize his musical interest, Roberts said he joined the orchestra as a violinist in the fourth grade. Eventually, his teacher suggested he begin playing the string bass due to his unusual control as a young musician.

Jenny Klinkenberg, Roberts’ former orchestra teacher, said she began to hold events before and after school to aid him in becoming an adept bass musician. Roberts said Klinkenberg was extremely influential in the development of his love for music and his decision to pursue it as a career.

“He has always been a shining star,” Klinkenberg said. “He excels in his relationship with people and was always a student leader in our classroom.”

As a seventh-grader, Roberts said he found the style of music that impacted his life and the direction for his path as a musician.

“It’s so fun in jazz because I make everything up on the spot,” Roberts said. “I’m able to kind of create what’s in my mind, sometimes expressing myself, but often expressing what somebody else wants expressed, through sound instead of words.”

Roberts said his zest for music, specifically jazz, prompted him to participate in band, jazz band and orchestra as a student at Blue Valley Northwest High School. Being so involved in a variety of music groups and classrooms throughout his youth has shown him many different teaching strategies, Roberts said.

Because of the array of musicians he has witnessed, Roberts said the decision to pursue music education was not a hard one. This diversification helped him solidify what he hopes to eventually create for future students in a classroom of his own, he said.

“I hope to create an environment of positivity and humor … more about creating a community than a perfect group,” Roberts said.

For three years, Roberts worked as a swim instructor for middle school youth in Overland Park. Infected by their nonstop energy and humorous tendency to speak their mind, Roberts said he developed a passion for educating children of that age and finds himself called to push them to learn the information he knows.

Over the course of winter break, Roberts received the opportunity to go to his former middle school and participate in a student observation program in Klinkenberg’s classroom.

“It was rewarding and exciting to reconnect with her and take part in her classroom again,” Roberts said.

Klinkenberg said having Roberts back to observe her classroom was an excellent experience.

“When it comes down to it, he is always the hardest working kid in the room,” Klinkenberg said.

Roberts said being a music major requires you to go out on your own and find time to practice and work on honing and mastering your skills.

“Sometimes it’s so easy to not set yourself to super-high standards because you can make music that sounds good,” Roberts said. “But you know yourself, that you could push a lot harder. It requires a lot of self-discipline.”

Roberts said that if he could give advice to people who wish to pursue music, he would encourage them to avoid thinking music is just for people who have done it for a long time.

“Anyone can learn it at any time, which is one of the many beautiful things about it,” Roberts said.

Although he loves the music program, Roberts said he chose K-State because “it had the best type of people.” He said he wanted to surround himself with people who do it because they love it and people with passion and zeal for the art, like himself.

Roberts is a current member of the K-State Orchestra, as well as two jazz bands. He made the top jazz group at K-State as a freshman, which is “excellent,” Gordon Lewis, bassist and jazz instructor, said.

“The thing I like about (Roberts) is that he has a lot of different musical interests with jazz and also orchestra music,” Lewis said. “He’s a very well-rounded student. Before long, he will be playing not just locally, but around the area.”

Roberts said he is excited about continuing to pursue his mission of learning, growing and sharing through music.

“Music is my gift, but my passion is in children and in educating and teaching the next generation,” Roberts said.