Richard Robinette has been an active part of San Diego’s music scene since 1953. While attending Mission Bay High School (1954-1958) he sat principal clarinet in several all-California and MENC national high school honor bands and was featured soloist with the La Jolla Civic Orchestra at age 16. He graduated with distinction in clarinet performance from San Diego State University in 1962 where he recorded Three Songs for Clarinet and Piano on The Contemporary Composers label with composer David Ward-Steinman on piano.
He taught instrumental music at Crawford High School in San Diego from 1962 through 1967, where he introduced jazz to the curriculum and developed an award-winning jazz ensemble. He continued the jazz education tradition at El Cajon Valley High School from 1967 through 1969. Richard joined the faculty at Southwestern College in 1969 as the instrumental music director. He also continued the well-established tradition in jazz by coordinating he popular stage band festival, expanding it to include vocal jazz.
He developed the jazz studies program by designing courses in jazz history, jazz improvisation, and commercial/jazz arranging. He further developed that program by introducing recording techniques and an introduction to commercial music course. These courses ultimately lead to an associate degree in commercial music. He also taught a highly popular course, The Contemporary Scene of American Popular Music, which focused on the influence of various jazz styles on the development of popular music. He subsequently wrote a text for the course, Historical Perspectives in Popular Music which, along with its companion set of CDs, was adopted by a number of colleges throughout the country.
Under Mr. Robinette’s leadership the Southwestern College Jazz Festival brought such artists as Stan Kenton, Art Pepper, Don Ellis, Rich Mattison, Gary Pack, and Billy Fender. While at Southwestern College he served as clinician, coach and adjudicator for school music festivals. He retired from Southwestern College in 1999 as professor emeritus and currently performs as soloist and principal clarinetist with the San Diego Concert Band, Hillcrest Wind Ensmble, Tifefereth Israel Community Orchestra, San Diego Festival Orchestra, and the San Diego Clarinet Quintet. ￼ In his early years, legendary jazz bassist