Student Spotlight: Anthony Miller

The steelpan player and performance major talks about how ear training courses changed how he hears music, forming a group with his roommates, and some of his current favorite songs.

July 18, 2023

What’s it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience—what they’re learning in class, what kinds of projects they’re involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they’re listening to. This week, meet Anthony Miller, a fifth-semester steelpan player and percussion performance major from Trincity, Trinidad and Tobago.

Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?

During the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 I started reflecting a lot on what field of study I wanted to pursue after secondary school. I’d been a musical individual since I was about 8 years old and coming to Berklee had always been in the back of my mind. I decided to apply to Berklee by the end of 2021 as I began to realize that I just couldn’t see myself pursuing anything else. The pandemic was a very liminal space in time where I felt very uncertain about my place in life, but the idea that I could attend Berklee in the near future gave me hope.

What's been your favorite class so far, and what has it taught you?

My favorite class so far has been Ear Training. I started in my first semester with Ear Training 2 with Catherine Bent as my professor (I also took her for Ear Training 3 and 4). The ear training curriculum has honestly changed the way that I hear and interpret music. My aural skills have never been better because of it, and I find myself applying those skills in my other classes here at Berklee and throughout my everyday life. Catherine would have very diverse musical examples to share with the class and truly showed how the elements learned in ear training manifest themselves in various musical genres.

What's a project you've worked on since coming to Berklee that you've been especially excited about?

My three roommates and I recently formed this entity called Symphony Sounds. We make music together as well as have begun collaborating with other artists to further boost their content online. My favorite part about this is regularly meeting and working with a diverse set of musicians.

Watch Symphony Sound's version of Noname's "Montego Bae":

How do you typically recharge or find new ideas outside of class?

For me, going on walks helps my brain to calm and reset my brain. I typically find it difficult to come up with new musical ideas if my mind is not clear or rested, and going for a nice stroll, even if it’s for just five minutes, is what really helps me regulate and recharge.

What careers are you interested in pursuing in the future?

I look forward to becoming a touring musician so that I can share my music with the world, which will also give me the chance to have others share their music with me. Additionally, I hope to continue composing and arranging music for steeplan as well as other different instrumental ensembles.

When you think towards your own future, who inspires you most?

My parents are my two biggest inspirations. I am extremely grateful for the faith and confidence that they have in me, and I know that they would have supported me regardless of what career path I chose. I also admire how much they’ve accomplished as they’ve pursued so much in their respective fields as well as raising my sister and me.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to your high school self?

Don’t try to have your whole life planned out before you graduate. While it’s important to be efficient in this life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should rush to plan everything. There are always going to be curveballs thrown your way, and you’ll need to adapt accordingly. Continue to be more adaptable so that you can fully take advantage of as many interactions and opportunities as possible.

Anthony's Top Songs Right Now

We asked Anthony to pick five of his current favorite songs and tell us a bit about why he selected each. Here’s what he said:

1. "We Might Even Be Balling in Love (Interlude)," Victoria Monét

I love the horn countermelody in the background and how it interacts with Victoria Monét’s soothing voice. I wish this song was longer and not just an interlude, but I think the short length does make one appreciate it more.

2. "Shadow Dance," Adan Hagley

I’m a big fan of all of Adan Hagley’s music, but "Shadow Dance" has such a nice pulse to it. I also like how the chord progression is reminiscent of traditional jazz as well as calypso music.

3. "I Adore You," esperanza spalding

I just love the bass solo that esperanza delivers in this one. I also like the strong vocal presence, but as there’s no lyrics being sung, it gives a different type of authenticity in my opinion.

4. "Where the Nubians Grow," Endea Owens

This song is just very soothing to me, and it always puts me in a relaxed mood. I think more people need to hear the work of Endea Owens.

5. "Live Yuh Life (Like Yuh Playing Mas)," Kes featuring David Rudder

I love the message of this song. In Trinidad and Tobago, when people play mas [short for "masquerader band"] for Carnival, it is such a jovial occasion. Since Carnival is just once a year, the main hook of the song, “Live yuh life like yuh playing mas,” is saying that we should maintain that joy and positivity all year long.

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