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BA, Valparaiso University, Music Industry
2006 - La Orquesta Ilusiones - Performed at Indianapolis Latino Festival
2007 - Planetary Blues - Performed at Kalamazoo Blues Festival
2015 - Planetary Blues - Performed in opening band for Buddy Guy in Chicago, IL
2015 - OneWay Ministries - Featured soloist for SHINE 2015 in Naperville, IL
2009-2016 - J.R. Miller Project - Composed and released 4 original EP recordings
I'm a very creative musician with unending curiosity and a passion for people. My journey on the saxophone started over 15 years ago, and will continue as long as I can make a sound on the horn. In 2008, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Valparaiso University. I have come to consider myself an eternal student, and seek out performing opportunities that lead me into uncharted musical territory. On any given day you might find me composing a new song, teaching, playing at a hot Chicago venue, or recording in the studio. I'm an active member of the Chicago music scene and enjoy performing regularly.
I have been teaching throughout my career as a saxophonist and got my first student in 2007. My students find the best results if they love their instrument and have their own motivation to improve. My role is not only instructing someone to better play saxophone, but being an encouraging and positive force in a student's life. I've seen that when a student gains confidence and discipline, their learning curve typically skyrockets. I know I've done well when my student feels themselves improving and gets excited about meeting their full potential. There are countless styles and sounds in music, and I build a foundation on that equips students to seek out their own musical path.
When a student begins taking lessons from me, I will first assess their musical abilities and ask them what their goals are as a player. I then create a custom lesson plan. This plan is tailored to their goals, but is also based on the areas in their playing that need attention. Fundamentals are emphasized. Some topics covered in lessons may include reading music, embouchure, air flow, listening, tone quality, reeds, improvisation, and ear training. I frequently assign listening homework, and I play audio recordings and videos during lessons that directly pertain to the areas we are focusing on. For example, if we are working on a classical solo piece, the student may watch footage of that piece being performed by a world-renowned saxophonist. This approach helps to keep things interesting and engaging. I will also record the audio of certain lessons so both myself and the student can track improvement.
90% of being a good saxophonist is the responsibility of the student, and 10% is on the teacher. Even though a student should work hard to improve, I recognize that my 10% is extremely vital. Since my scheduled lesson with a student only represents a fraction of the time they play their horn, I keep it fun, upbeat, and encouraging. If a student is struggling with an assignment, it will be met with kindness and patience. I will share knowledge and teach skills that foster independent learning, and show students what it means to be a great saxophonist. Whether the goal is to learn a part for the school band or improvise a blues solo, the student will have the guidance and support they need to reach their musical potential.
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