As a private piano instructor, Tammy Miller has found a unique way for her students to feel like they are part of a larger musical community. “Each year, I do a studio challenge that each of my students participate in,” Miller says. “I teach an average of 40 students who range in age from 4-78! The yearly studio challenge is an extra special aspect of their experience in my studio, and it increases their excitement toward learning and provides added engagement in their music lessons!”
For this year’s challenge, “Piano Olympics,” students participate in a different Piano Olympic event each month. September was a practice challenge where students were given an individual 30-day practice chart. “If they practiced 30 days, they earned a gold medal that they write their name on and post on my studio wall; 20 to 29 days of practice earned silver, and 10 to 19 days was bronze,” Miller explains.
October was music history where students listened to four different episodes that Miller pre-selected on the Classics for Kids website and completed the activity/quiz. During November, or “Note-vember,” students came up with a new mnemonic device for the lines and spaces on the treble and bass clef. Piano Olympics will continue through May with upcoming events on sight-reading, rhythm, improvisation, technique, etc. “To date, everyone in the studio has participated in every Piano Olympics challenge and earned at least a bronze medal,” Miller proudly proclaims
In addition to her private piano lessons, Miller serves as the artist faculty representative to the Omaha Conservatory of Music board of directors for the next two academic years. “This role allows me to be a voice for the faculty and give feedback to the board to assist with their strategic planning efforts and improvements or new programs/offerings within the organization,” Miller says. As an artist faculty representative, Miller participates on the Educational Programming and Community Outreach Committees, which allows her to work a little closer with the directors of both committees on how the organization can have a greater impact on students at the conservatory and throughout the Omaha Metro area.
Miller is also the founder and president of the National Composers Orchestra (NCO), the first professional musical ensemble and chamber music series in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the artistic director and founder of the NCO Chamber Music Series that operates in partnership with St. Paul’s Conservatory of Music. “The goal of the Chamber Music Series is to promote the music of living composers and provide immediate access to high-quality musical performances for the Council Bluffs community and the students at St. Paul’s Conservatory of Music,” Miller says. “In addition to high-quality live performances, students and audience members have the opportunity to meet and talk with guest artists and composers in a post-concert meet and greet.”