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Fifth-Graders Take Master Class with 'American Idol' Finalist

Anwar Robinson shared tips for success in music and life during classes at middle school and ALT.

What does a young, inspired musician do after nearly rising to the top of TV fame as a finalist on Fox-TV's "American Idol"?

If you're like Anwar Robinson, who didn't get enough votes to keep Carrie Underwood from winning the prize and national fame in 2005, you return to your second love: teaching.

Robinson spent much of Wednesday offering his insights and experiences to Warren students, at Warren Middle School in the morning, then at Angelo L. Tomaso School in the afternoon, where fifth-grade students from all four elementary schools gathered to hear him.

The classes first practiced singing with Robinson on the spiritual "Hush! Somebody's Calling My Name," during which Robinson coached the students on vocal dynamics and interpretation.

"You have a right to sing this song," he told the students after discussion the possible interpretations of song, of which the students offered several. "Everyone can sing it and interpret it any way you want to."

Before closing with performances of some of his own compositions, Robinson took questions from the students, many of which focused on his experiences and lessons from his "American Idol" experience, when he reached the no. 7 spot before being voted off. 

In response to a question about how it changed his life, Robinson said he wasn't able to immediately return to teaching after the show "because a lot of people didn't think I would want to teaching after being on 'Idol.'"

But they were wrong—after performing in a touring company production of "Rent" for about a 18 months, Robinson happily returned to teaching.

He said he enjoys being an independent musician able to do the things that are important to him—such as offer classes to young students—and doesn't think it would be possible for him if he had won on the program.

And when asked why he entered the competition, he said it was, in part, a dare and, in part, for his students.

"I really wanted to prove to my kids that can do anything—and you really can, but you have to do something about it," he said. 

The class was arranged by ALT music teacher Amy Jensen, who met Robinson when both were students at Westminster Choir College at Rider University. Robinson credited much of his success to Jensen, who he said was a friend who helped him fully realize his talents.

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