For junior Margaret Miller, music has always served as a source of inspiration in her life.
Some of her earliest memories include countless piano lessons, where her abundant energy made it difficult to focus on her music. Although Margaret disliked the repetitive nature of her piano lessons, her passion for music persisted in other ways. “I liked to play on my own outside of lessons, where I learned to play by ear,” she remembers. “Instead of reading music, I learned to play the songs I liked on the radio.”
While Margaret played songs such as “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift on the piano, she also developed a love for the trumpet. Initially starting lessons in fourth grade, Margaret has spent numerous years in Concert Band. She is able to express her creativity in Kingswood Oxford’s Jazz Band, where she can deviate from the notes written on the page in front of her.
After a short break from piano lessons, Margaret’s time at KO fostered a deeper appreciation for classical music. “Although I took a break from piano lessons, I would still practice every day on my own,” she said. “During my sophomore year, I took [AP] Music Theory, where I was inspired to read music better.” In this class, Margaret learned important lessons in music notation and score analysis while learning about some of the important aspects of written music. Inspired by her experience in this class, Margaret took an important step in her music career and signed up for additional piano lessons.
Although she initially detested the structure and memorization that accompanied her piano lessons, Margaret has always understood the importance of musical literacy. Her love for music grew once she continued taking piano lessons. “It takes a lot for teachers to agree with you that you can play real composed pieces,” Margaret said. “I was still in the music books after 10 years of playing, but once I started lessons again, they allowed me to play pieces outside of practice books.” Now, Margaret is able to play complicated and intricate pieces such as Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and various works by Chopin.
Outside of the classroom, Margaret can be found inspiring others in the Ukulele Club, one of KO’s newest clubs. “This year, I was placed in Mr. Jones’ advisee group,” she said. “His room is covered in ukuleles, and he told me that there used to be a ukulele club. Me and my friend [junior Abby Craig] decided to start the tradition again.”
Reflecting on her journey as a musician, Margaret shared an important piece of advice for other aspiring musicians. “You have to be passionate about it,” she said. “I think one of the things that I lacked in the beginning was discipline, but I never lacked a love for the instrument. That’s why I practiced every day.”
Finally, Margaret shared her future aspirations. “Pursuing music professionally has been on my mind, but I have so many other passions that I want to explore as well,” she said. However, Margaret can’t imagine a life without the piano. “Whatever I do in my life, music will definitely be incorporated,” she said.