2018 Fellow Amelia Robinson

Amelia Robinson

Musician
Brooklyn NY
Fellowship: 2018

“Creativity exists in the milliseconds between a question and an answer,” says Amelia. “I teach from a place where learning to be fully present in the act of making something is a more valuable life skill and measure of fulfillment than being defined by our results. Through education driven by inquiry, we can evoke joy and wonder, learn to pose questions, replace judgment with curiosity, and build lifelong skills.”

Amelia is a composer, educator, and community artist dedicated to creating interactive shared experiences for all ages through music. After earning a graduate degree in Biological Anthropology, followed by a challenging experience playing ‘ukulele daily for five months on an artificial island in Qatar, she returned to New York. “It was a wonderful training ground for my life now. I realized the value of the arts. I wasn’t writing kid’s songs then, but playful ones, and could engage in an instant with children. When I returned to NYC, right away I started Mil’s Trills, using the same songs — playful and uplifting. It just organically happened.”

Through live performances, albums, and a collaborative songwriting series called Musical Playdates, Mil’s Trills fosters mindfulness, inclusivity, and positive action. “We sculpted a dedicated community and established a reputation as providers of quality programing. I believe that by nurturing shared moments of surprise, wonder, and joy we can come together as a united humanity.”

New Yorkers weren’t the only ones enthusiastic about her new venture. Her recording, ‘Mother May I?,’ was recognized by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative and included on the album, Songs for a Healthier America.

Teaching philosophy:
“Making music is a powerful way of getting to know our authentic selves while understanding our role in the ever-changing world around us. Making music teaches us that by trusting our instincts and surrendering to the present moment, we can embrace a textured and colorful life. Making music reminds us that when we pay attention to our surroundings, and honor the wisdom of our bodies, we can access the tools needed to navigate hard times and challenges. When we keep the channels of creative play open and alive, we become further able to accept and empower ourselves as the emotional, social, and adaptable human beings that we are.”

How do you produce a vibrant learning environment?
“I integrate a lot of different art forms to help kids create. I leave stuff around the studio for kids to play with, and have a chalkboard so we can write.

“Children explore how they make sound with their bodies and how they communicate with others. and how others communicate with them: the different ways they receive information and interpret / internalize / transform information and how they express a message or feeling out through their bodies in a way that is true.

“Tenets of my practice include: using an accessible instrument like the ukulele; composing original music in collaboration; acknowledging the individual’s value within the community; providing an inclusive setting for all types of needs; enlisting movement activities to create interactive experiences; establishing a co-learning environment.”

How do you foster youth leadership?
“Being able to connect with and mobilize a group of people towards an action requires communication skills — knowing when to tell your story and knowing when to listen — which occurs so naturally and beautifully in the process of making music.”

How have you evolved as a teacher?
“I have learned to trust children’s instincts and take cues from their natural inclinations rather than promote my own agenda or match someone else’s expectations. I have become a guide who helps children navigate their internal worlds, and figure out how to relate to the environment around them.”

What is an example of a good day teaching kids?
“When they realize that they are the masters of their learning. And when a kid asks for more, I feel overcome with a sense of purpose.”

Link: www.milstrills.com

photo by Molly Robinson

(interviewed 2018)

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