Becca Miller ’14 has been playing the trumpet since fourth grade. “I picked it because it was in the family; my dad played it in high school and we always had a trumpet lying around the house,” she said.
As the years progressed, a requirement for an elementary school band program has become a full-blown passion. At Vassar, Miller is a Political Science major with a Music History minor, and is an avid participant in the campus music programs. She also takes lessons with Jim Osborn, Adjunct Artist in Music and the director of the Jazz and Wind Ensembles at Vassar.
“Becca Miller is a very busy Vassar musician,” Osborn commented.
Furthermore, Miller is notably one of few females who plays the trumpet. At Vassar, she is the only female trumpetist, and a talented one at that.
And on Saturday, March 2 at 8 p.m., Miller’s aptitude will be showcased; she will be performing a solo in the Vassar College Orchestra concert, conducted by Eduardo Navega. The Orchestra, an audition-only group, gives two concerts each semester, and typically performs great works from the symphonic literature. Recent concerts have included pieces by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Villa-Lobos and S. Barber, among others. Each concert has featured soloists, and this semester, Miller will play the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto in E Flat.
“Becca is a quietly intense trumpet player who is becoming a strong soloist after years of performing as a solid trumpet section member. She has been a great student and I am looking forward to her performance with the orchestra and her senior recital next year!” said Osborn.
From Chevy Chase, Md., Miller became serious about the trumpet when she started taking lessons in sixth grade. And in high school, she played the trumpet yearly in all-county musical groups. She also attended the National High School Music Institute the summer before her senior year, a prestigious audition-only five-week music program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
At the Institute, she played in a brass quintet, wind ensemble and brass ensemble, and took private lessons.
“It was a really great experience because its objective was to simulate the experience of being in a music conservatory in college. I grew a lot as a musician in those five weeks, but it also confirmed that I didn’t want to go to a music conservatory. In a way this led me to Vassar, where I am able to study a variety of things, including but not limited to music,” Miller commented.
During her senior year of high school, Miller further focused her musical pursuits. She participated in the Maryland Class Youth Orchestra, a competitive group that was made up of students from her high school—Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, and other students from the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
She said, “This is where I realized how much I loved playing in an orchestra, and led me to pursue playing in the Vassar College Orchestra beginning my freshman year. It also confirmed my love of classical music—and my preference for it over jazz—and influenced my decision to study music history at Vassar.”
Besides pursuing music from an academic standpoint, Miller has dabbled in a variety of music-related activities at Vassar, including the orchestra, the jazz ensemble and various chamber groups. Her freshman year, she was in the Brass Trio; her sophomore year, she was in Three Trumpets and a Timphony; and this year she is in the Brass Quintet.
She also emphasized the connections between studying music history in a classroom and playing in an orchestra. She noted, “What I like about playing in an orchestra is that it connects you in an intimate way to the composer, the period a piece was written in, and the people you are playing with.”
On breaks and during the summer, she spreads this love of music to elementary and middle school students in her area by giving trumpet lessons. She works with four boys, two in fifth grade, one in seventh, and one in eighth.
“I’m passionate about music because it’s a way to express myself without words,” Miller concluded.