“It is my hope that beyond technique and expressive musicality, my students will learn how to think: about music, through music, and in music.”
Nathan Miller believes that students studying applied music on a liberal arts campus have distinct advantages over students at larger academic institutions. Students at Transylvania are encouraged to develop “the whole mind” through critical thinking and discussion. That, in turn, enriches their musicality.
“I like to think of music performance as ‘thinking IN music.’ The best performances are not the most technically proficient (though this is helpful), but a profound exchange of ideas in nonverbal sound.
“It is my goal to engage students in a dynamic way that can help them bridge lessons and skills learned in music to the rest of their academic studies and, ultimately, to their lives.”
Miller cites another advantage of studying music at Transylvania: having an accompanist available during lessons and private coaching sessions. This gives students the opportunity to practice ensemble and chamber playing during the course of their regularly scheduled classes, at no extra charge.
As an instructor, Miller finds great satisfaction in hearing a student conquer a challenging piece. “I enjoy the moment in teaching when a student realizes they are capable of more than previously thought.”
But the students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the interaction. “An applied lesson is essentially a dialogue between two people, and each lesson challenges me and helps me become better.”
Miller also uses his talents to serve the greater community. As the music director at the Salvation Army of Central Kentucky, he helped arrange free music instruction for over 250 children in the Lexington area in 2011. “I find immense satisfaction in teaching the joy of music to students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity.”
With his wife, Ellen, who teaches music at Winburn Middle School, Miller enjoys gardening, cycling, and “undertaking household projects just beyond our capacity.”