Robert Willoughby was on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and . He served as principal flutist of the Cincinnati Symphony and as assistant first flutist of the Cleveland Orchestra. As a founding member of the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble and the Oberlin Woodwind Quintet, he undertook worldwide concert tours to Europe and Asia. He was also a member of the Baroque Performance Institute in Oberlin and the Smithsonian Chamber Players. He commissioned and premiered flute works by Easley Blackwood and Thea Musgrave, among others, and recorded for the Gasparo, Vox, CRI, Coronet, and Smithsonian labels. He held degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory.