SIDNEY — Carolyn Miller, of Cincinnati, was the first composer honored on Composer Appreciation Day in Sidney by Kathy Jendrusik and the students in her Ka-Jens Piano Studio.
That was in 2014.
Saturday, April 7, Miller was back to be honored again at a master class and concert in the Sidney Church of God, during which young pianists performed music Miller has written.
“My students were so excited to meet the composer that wrote many of their favorite songs. They loved her and enjoyed hearing the stories behind the pieces and her suggestions and secrets for performing them. The consensus was they wanted her back,” Jendrusik said.
Miller and Jendrusik are long-time friends. They worked together on a piece originally written by Jendrusik to turn it into a duet and Miller recently dedicated a new piece, “Deep Thoughts,” to Jendrusik.
The Cincinnati composer travels the country to conduct teacher workshops for her publisher, Willis Publishing and Hal Leonard Publishing, and, retired as a public school music teacher, she still has a few private piano students. But leading a master class for Jendrusik’s students was a special treat.
“I’m just honored that they’ve asked me to come. It gives me great pleasure to hear students play my music. It gives me a good feeling that students are enjoying my music,” she said.
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst proclaimed Saturday Carolyn Miller Day in Sidney.
“The Sidney community joins in honoring Carolyn Miller,” he said. “I extend the best wishes of the community to Carolyn Miller and our appreciation for her sharing her musical talent.”
The honoree earned music degrees from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She is listed in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who of American Women.
Former television host Regis Philbin played two of her compositions on his nationally broadcast show in the 1990s.
She is best known for the music she writes that challenge students at various proficiency levels.
“She relates to all age groups. Her pieces are technically skilled. They give purpose for what the student needs to learn at every level of learning and are so much fun to play. It’s her ability to have this multi-level approach to composing from easiest to intermediate and how beautiful students sound as young pianists that makes her music so appealing to all ages,” Jendrusik said.
Miller is the choir director at her church, serves on church committees and leads an outreach choir, which she started to perform at nursing homes. She works her composing into a busy schedule as she can.
“Some days I get inspired. I work all day long. It’s better if I sketch out (a piece) and go back to it to revise it,” she said.
A teachers’ group in Mississippi has commissioned Miller to write music for students at the late intermediate level. That’s something new for her. Trying to compose music to challenge students at that level has proved to be a challenge and fun for the composer, herself.
“If my goal is to write a late intermediate, I sit down at the piano. I call it doodling at the piano. When I write things for the elementary level, I usually have an idea in mind. It usually has a teaching strategy in it. If I’m writing late intermediate, my doodling is different,” she said. “I’m really excited when I play them. They’re really showy and dramatic. This is new to me.”
Saturday, Martha Chrisman, of Sidney, got to premier Miller’s latest composition, “Turmoil.” It had never been played in public before. Liliana Phillips, of Sidney, performed a duet with the composer.
Other students who appeared in the concert were Amelie Phillips, daughter of Keith and Sonya Phillips, Alice and Johnny Chrisman, children of Joe and Heather Chrisman, Corinne, Colton and Keagan Smith, children of Doug and Karen Smith, Haley Fogt, daughter of Bruce and Linda Fogt, Shannon and McKenna, daughters of Mike and Robyn Gossard, Cassie Heath, daughter of Scott and Molly Heath, Haru and Saki Murata, daughters of Hiroyasu and Yukiko Murata and Lola and Loralei Chambers, daughters of Lorraine Rose, all of Sidney.
Also Kierstyn and Seth Oberdorf, children of Larry Oberdorf, of Minster, and Christina Helman, of Sidney; Meredith Klein, daughter of Eric and Sarah Klein, Liz Michael, daughter of Scott and Beth Michael, Ryan Nichols, son of Darren Nichols and Kelly McCarty and Maria Wiseman, daughter of Richard and Paula Wiseman, all of Anna; Haley and Myla Cox, daughters of Aaron and Mindy Cox, of Quincy; Zachary Ahrens, son of Robert and Joyce Ahrens and Alayna Rindler, daughter of Alan and June Rindler, all of Versailles.
Also Julia Dilbone, daughter of David and Summer Dilbone and Brooklyn Jackson, daughter of Shane and Nichole Jackson, all of Troy, and Clara Chrisman, daughter of David and Rebecca Chrisman, of Kettering.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.