Orchestra students across the district enjoyed having an artist-in-residence when professional cellist Sarah Miller visited Chatham March 13. Ms. Miller traveled from Cleveland to perform for the students, share some of her considerable technique, and run a series of masterclasses with students at the high school and middle school.
CHS/CMS strings teacher Courtney Miller, who is Sarah’s sister, invited Sarah to Chatham to talk to her students about what it is like being a professional musician and to give a little inspiration to the students who are putting in extra hours to prepare for the NYSSMA Solo & Small Ensemble Festival this April.
Now in her second year studying cello at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music, Sarah is already earning a living through music, gigging as a solo act or with her trio or quartet, winning prize money at contests, and recording with composers developing new compositions.
Her day began at the high school where she put on a solo performance for CHS and MED orchestra students and led a workshop on practice and listening techniques. She discussed and demonstrated strategies to improve tone, intonations, and rhythm, and talked about how important it is to be dedicated to practice.
“Don’t practice it until you get it right, practice it until you can’t get it wrong,” she told the students, citing one of her favorite pieces of advice from her own cello instructor.
Sarah shared what it is like to be a performance major in college, how she got started, and told a few stories about some of her paying gigs. Later she sat in with the CHS orchestra as the cellist’s section leader for a rehearsal and after that led ten-minute masterclasses with each orchestra student who was preparing for the NYSSMA festival.
In the afternoon, Sarah headed over to CMS for a repeat performance for the middle school’s strings students that included practice tips and tricks and a questions and answers session. As she did at the High School, she also led ten-minute masterclasses with each student preparing for the NYSMMA festival.
This rewarding artist-in-residence experience was sponsored by the Fine Arts Booster Club.