Graduate Amy Miller masters the cello


Glenda Avalos, Contributor

Graduation marks the end of an exciting, frustrating and enriching part of a student’s life and after two years as a graduate music performance student, Amy Miller is ready to receive her master’s degree in music performance.

“My first year here, I was the only cello master student and I was principal on the UTEP Symphony Orchestra,” Miller said. “It taught me a lot—to step up when you’re put in that role.”

Born in the small town of Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Md., Amy grew up playing lacrosse until an injury, and during her junior year of high school, Amy picked up the cello.

“I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was four, and that was something that I loved to play. I was recruited and got signed to a university in Boston and then I tore my ACL and meniscus, and that’s when everything shifted,” Miller said. “It’s one of those things where you have to take it day by day, and think ‘my life is not over, what else do I want to do?’ Music was something that I had loved to do.” 

Throughout high school, Miller was a member of the Youth Symphony Orchestra and participated in the Kennedy Center Youth Fellowship Program. Although Miller spent a lot of time working on her musical talent, she never expected to make it her career.

“I found myself at the University of Michigan, doing my cello performance as an undergraduate and there’s where I developed my taste for music and kind of really getting into that world,” Miller said.

Miller said the experience that she received at Michigan was eye-opening for her since her classmates were studying music seriously their entire lives and she hadn’t. She worked to introduce herself to that world and started to see what it took to be a musician.

“I decided that I really wanted to be a cellist and I wanted to work hard and be the best that I can be,” Miller said.

Miller has participated four times during the summer in a small music festival at the Meadawmount School of Music in Westport, New York.

“That experience taught me a lot about the stamina that you need to have as a musician. It taught me about myself, and what I actually want to do,” Miller said.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Miller has continued her education at UTEP and has since been involved with the El Paso community by participating as a substitute cellist in the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra.

Miller has served as a teaching assistant for the String Project at UTEP, a program that helps tutor students from kinder to fifth grade who can’t afford individual music lessons.

“We teach them how to play their instruments privately and then as a group together. It’s just a really good experience for them and for us as teachers,” Miller said.

After graduation in May, Miller wants to engage with the community by getting to know her audience through music. In the future, she wants to keep teaching students about music and plans to dedicate herself to art management.