Yesterday, I was saddened to find out that my former voice teacher at Oberlin had passed away. Richard Miller was my private instructor for all four years during my Oberlin undergrad degree.
I don't exactly know what to say about his death. I had heard rumor that this was coming, so I've been thinking about my time spent with Mr. Miller during that very formative four years of my life. The truth of the matter is, I spent a lot of Saturday mornings working with Mr. Miller in his garden, which was something he hired me to do during my time at Oberlin. That time spent with him was maybe more valuable to me than all the vocal technique he shared with me. He really was a renaissance man, but I only knew that because of those Saturday mornings spent with him.
The other thing that I think is important about Mr. Miller (that maybe I only realize now more than ever given my current employment within a music school), is that he was famous for being a pedagogue, which in the world of music is not typically glorified. Typically one achieves fame as a performer and then is given the privilege of teaching, which they may or may not be good at. Richard Miller was unique because although he had some success as a performer, he was famous for his study of singing and the ways in which he developed successful ways to teach singing. I am extremely fortunate to have been a student of his at it has informed how I understand music and music making, but also has afforded me many opportunities just because of being connected to his influential name. I am extremely thankful for him.
He will be missed.