This multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and educator (Director of Jazz Studies at the College of Charleston), and Director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra began his musical journey at the age of 8. He studied classical and jazz saxophone at the University of Idaho and Western Michigan University. His first professional gig was in a 50’s rock and roll show band; he was “Spider Lewis.”
Growing up in Kennewick, Washington (he now lives in Summerville), Robert “had to seek out good music. I grew up in suburbia of a tech heavy town, [with] pretty limited artistic options.” Creating options, and focusing on process, is what drives Lewis. His favorite musical experience is in “small groups, with lots of improvised interaction. I love the creative musical conversations.”
For Robert, “Music is a process. I don’t find it useful to focus on goals or milestones, which generally don’t have much to do with the real artistic development happening.” How often does he practice? In years past, it was up to eight hours a day. These days? Closer to 1-2 hours per day.
On stage, his ideal mode is “very focused, relaxed, open to possibilities.” Off-stage he enjoys family time, judo and training the family dog.
A few of Robert’s musical notes:
- His greatest achievements: “Raising a couple of good kids and having a great marriage.”
- His advice to aspiring musicians: “If you want to make a living in the arts, you’ll need to commit 100%. Keep focused on what really excites you, and work incredibly hard at it.”