All, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Began teaching at age 17 under supervision of established instructor, Upon earning university degree had a clientele of 40 students per week with a waiting list, Have coached instrumentalists and vocalists in preparation for performances
Music Composition, Helping students record their songs and create a music video
Piano, Music Theory
Bachelor of Music with Major in Piano Performance; minor in Education/Piano Pedagogy - University of Texas at Arlington
Music video (DONNA MILLER FULL CIRCLE VIDEO 2017) has been posted on YouTube, Creating new CD of original compositions, Performing at assisted living communities, Performing for weddings, Creating additional music videos for clients
Classical, Popular, Composition
Solo concerts of classical repertoire, Open mic performances of original compositions (Phoenix), Accompanying for high school students at state & regional contests (Texas & New Mexico), Accompanying for university students presenting solo recitals, Weddings, Church services, Performed piano part on recorded original composition (Los Angeles), Performed/composed music for ITVA promo (international broadcast), Performed/composed music for "Great Texas National Air Race & Air Show" demo, Accompanist at International Saxophone Symposium in Washington DC for 1 U.S. and 2 Belgian performers
It is such a privilege to share my love of music with my students and is a delight to share in their progress and self-expression! Helping my students achieve their goals, watching them progress as they learn to play the piano and seeing them enjoy their piano studies are among my greatest pleasures.
MY BACKGROUND, MUSICAL TRAINING, EDUCATION & DEGREE
I started my piano studies at the age of seven with Margaret Rutschmann in Arlington, Texas and continued with Mrs. Rutchmann though my senior year of high school. I gave my first solo recital in 1969 and for numerous years prior to that, I performed anually in the National Guild of Piano Teachers programs.
I earned my degree in 1974 from the University of Texas at Arlington, graduating cum laude. I was distinguished as UTA's first graduate to earn the degree of Bachelor of Music with a Major in Piano Performance.
At UTA, I studied piano with Professor Robert W. Allison, who was also the personal accompanist for the then first-chair flutist of the Dallas Symphony. I was awarded numerous performance and accompanying scholarships and presented solo recitals in both my junior and senior years at UTA.
I was selected as the outstanding student from UTA's School of Music (1972-1973) and was listed in the national register of Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities for my music acccomplishments. In 1974, I won first prize in a performance competition sponsored by UTA's chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, performing Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Opus 23.
I have attended master classes taught by internationally-acclaimed pianists Madame Lili Kraus, Paul Badura-Skoda, Jean Casadesus, Helena Costa, and Stefan Bardas (the then artist-in-residence with whom I studied at North Texas State University after graduating from The University of Texas at Arlington).
MY PHILOSOPHY ON PIANO TEACHING
My basic teaching philosphy is that, first and foremost, learning to play the piano should be FUN! And it should be an activity the student finds JOY in doing! I also believe music is a very healthy way for us to express our emotions. In that respect, music can be both healing and therapeutic. For me, playing the piano is definitely a way to release stress.
ABOUT LESSONS & MY TEACHING METHODOLOGY
I structure lessons to uniquely meet the goals of each individual student and will ask for suggestions of music the student would like to learn to play.
I will promise to bring excellent teaching to each lesson. In turn, I ask, and expect, the student to practice. Hopefully, the lesson and the practice can both be fun! If the student does not practice properly and consistently, however, progress will be slow and disappointing. BUT, when the student practices properly and consistently, the student - and his or her parents - will be very happy with the results! When the student, instructor, and parents work together as a team, that is when the magic happens and the student becomes a pianist!
Since I am classically trained and degreed, I especially enjoy teaching from the classical repertoire. However, if a student is more interested in learning popular music, I am very happy to teach that genre as well. And of course it is always fun for students to learn (and for me to teach) both!
I endeavor to give every one of my students an excellent foundation and help them achieve their highest possible level of competence - no matter what genre of music they most prefer. I impart all the things I learned in my own studies as a classically-trained musician to provide that excellent foundation, regardless of which type of music the student is learning.
The instruction I provide focuses on learning to play the piano but also includes instruction in proper technique, music theory and composition because knowledge of all of these aspects contribute to a better overall musical foundation.
I teach proper technique from the very first lesson, and this includes proper hand position, proper seating at the piano, correct fingering, scales, etc., etc.
I teach music theory in a manner that significantly differs from the standard method. I have found that every one of my current students enjoys writing their own songs, and they all have a lot of fun doing this! So that is the basic platform I use in teaching music theory. I have found that having my students learn how to not only play their compositions, but to also write them down, using proper music notation and dynamic markings, etc. to be a wonderful way for them to learn music theory. I believe this approach makes music theory truly relevant to each individual student - not just something presented in a dry manner in a book.
If students are interested, I am also happy to work with them, using my personal computer and the Garage Band program, to record and orchestrate their own compositions! I can also create a background visual to complement their music.
EXAMPLES OF REWARDING EXPERIENCES IN MY TEACHING CAREER
Two of my most rewarding teaching experiences have been: 1) teaching a beginning adult student who dreamed of being able to play the piano for her church group. After a year of lessons and our working together, she achieved her goal! 2) I worked in a volunteer capacity with a young boy who was autistic and had never spoken a word. One day, while I was conducting a group singing exercise, this little boy began to sing EVERY word to the song we were singing. That was thrilling for both me and his public school teachers!
Many years ago, one of my students was having her lesson in my home studio. She looked around at the numerous decorative items in my home and, when she saw music boxes, paintings and other items in my home, she said, "Miss Donna, you are just music, music, music!" Her remark tickled me - and she was right - music was then, and still is, a very large part of my life.
MY ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS
In 2008, I created and self-produced a CD of my compositions titled IMAGINARY JOURNEYS. I am currently working on finalizing new compositions and should soon have enough material to begin putting a second CD together, but that is a very long process! In the meantime, you are welcome to visit my website to listen to some of my music. When you enter my website - donnagmiller.com - you will immediately be taken to the page where my original compositions are posted. My composition, FULL CIRCLE, is posted there and is fully orchestrated, so it is my recommendation if you only have time to listen to one selection.
Just recently, I also created a music video which combines my composition, FULL CIRCLE, with photographs I have taken.
My music video is posted on YouTube, so, if you wish, I invite you to view/listen to my video there. By entering DONNA MILLER FULL CIRCLE VIDEO 2017, you can find it on both YouTube and Google. I hope you get a chance to watch and listen to it - and that you enjoy it!
. . . to let you know me a bit on a more personal level . . .
I reside in Mesa (just a short drive to Music & Arts!), and I have a wonderful grown son who is funny, intelligent, fun to be around and is a blessing in my life!
When I lived in New Mexico, I served as a hospice volunteer and also as a volunteer at a wildlife rescue center. These animals were injured or otherwise unable to return to the wilds. I especially enjoyed caring for and assisting in the training of a prairie falcon. Helping to clean the mountain lion's cage was not my favorite job, but a necessary one. Getting him into the temporary enclosure so we could clean his environment was, well, quite interesting!
I have a dog named Bailey that I dearly love. He was in a shelter in Texas, and he was going to be euthanized the very next day, but just in time, we rescued each other! We enjoy our long walks together, and he loves belly rubs and TREATS!
I enjoy reading and am a huge movie buff.
I absolutely love to travel - it is my favorite thing after music! Several years ago, I was very fortunate in having been able to spend a month in France and enjoyed two shorter trips there in subsequent years. While staying in a tiny village in southern France, I had one of the peak experiences of my life - I got to play an organ built in the 1500s! That was an awesome and amazing experience! I have also enjoyed visits to Belgium, Portugal and Prague. I find that experiencing other countries, peoples and their cultures has brought many new understandings and dimensions to my life. I also actually believe my travels have added depth to the music I compose. NOTE: French is listed in the "Languages Spoken" tag, but please know my French is limited.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR CONSIDERING ME AS YOUR INSTRUCTOR!
I sincerely hope you will request me as your family's piano instructor. It would be my great pleasure to work with you. There is so much beautiful music to enjoy! I look forward to hearing from you!
Best regards, Donna G. Miller
MORE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES
"Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends." -Alphonse de Lamartine
"To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable." - Ludwig van Beethoven
"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." - Leonard Bernstein