Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Life-long Process of Planning

Hello, everyone!

Here I am, post-recital, and on to the next pile of music. I was pretty pleased with how the performance went, and am grateful to Dr. Tim Burns, my piano collaborator on this program. It’s a real joy when you find someone, or many someone’s, to work together and share great music.

As I mentioned in my last post, this week’s topic is on planning. It is truly a life-long process! I have tried many systems over the years, as I’m sure you have. Just know that you will be changing as a musician and a person, so your planning skills and techniques will also need some tweaking.

So how do you start? Good question! Yes, there are a lot of apps out there that can help you stay organized, but sometimes just writing it down with pen and paper can give a person a lot of clarity. Old school, yes, but it works for me. Back in my commuting days from Colorado Springs to CSU, I had to resort to colored ink pens to help keep me on track. Green was my CSU color, blue for projects for myself, etc. I am a great procrastinator, so this was really helpful to me; if everything had been in one color I probably would have looked at the long list for the day/week and thrown my hands up in despair. And then got some coffee…

If you are student reading this, think about the work you have for school and your outside activities. If you find there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, have a long talk with yourself about what is important to you. I am constantly amazed at how busy high school students are; it may feel great that you are so busy, but is it really what you want to do with your time? Those of you who are actively thinking about pursuing a music degree need to have your practice time be your #1 focus. The competition in the professional world is fierce, so spending as much time as you can with your instrument (and knowing how to practice) will help you learn better and faster in college. You will also have better time management skills, which are critical for successful learning as an undergraduate.

So has my planning method changed over the years? Yes, indeed. It may seem like more writing, but I have a weekly/monthly to-do list in categories (one for me, one for CSU), and then I make a daily list. There is only so much my brain can remember. I try (really hard, mind you) not to add anything to the next week’s list until I’ve finished the last two weeks. Some weeks are better than others, as you might imagine. Again, it works for me.

Remember that all of this discussion is on short-term planning. What about long-range goals and how to get there? That’s the topic for the next post.

Until then,
Margaret Miller


Happy New (Academic) Year!

And Happy Solar Eclipse Day! I hope this first post finds you all well, and excited for the new year. I took a blog hiatus for a bit last spring, but I am resuming with a slightly different focus for this year. Even though there are a lot of very good blogs about careers in music and the arts, I want to give you my personal perspective and thoughts from articles and postings that I find particularly interesting.

This is a good time to take stock of your goals and your plans for the new year. I am guessing that readers of this blog are students, whether high school, in college, or beyond. If you’re in high school and thinking about studying music in college, fall is a perfect time to think about what kind of life you would like to have as a musician. Keep in mind it’s not always a straight line!  Look for schools that fit your needs: degree, faculty, performance opportunities, and facilities. Also, schedule a lesson with a faculty member – remember that this is someone you’ll be with for four years, so this is really important! Visit a campus, sit in on classes, talk with current students. It may seem like a lot of work, but you want to be sure your college of choice is a good fit.

Dawn of a new academic year at Colorado State University. Photo by CSU student Ben Thomas (@itsbentumnus on Instagram)

If you’re reading this as a current university student, think about where you are in your studies. Are you taking advantage of all of the opportunities available to you? I’m talking about non-musical as well as musical opportunities, such as working with your composer friends, being part of the event staff so you get experience in that realm, or other aspects of life as a musician. We have to wear a lot of hats as musicians (more about mine in the next post). Networking is important because you never know where a friendship or collaboration might lead in the future. And remember that talking with people is still important, especially in this age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

I encourage all of you to make a list of your goals for the year-as a person, as a musician. Keep it handy so you can look at it on a regular basis and make changes as you need. My goal list is quite lengthy, as usual, so take small steps if yours feels overwhelming. You will find your own routine.

So, take charge! The semester is just getting started here at Colorado State, but I am very excited about this year.

Until next time,
Margaret Miller
Assistant Professor of Viola
Coordinator, Graduate Quartet Program
Undergraduate Coordinator, LEAP Institute for the Arts
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance


In The Green Room: May 2017

May 2017 cover of The Green Room

The May 2017 issue of The Green Room.

As the 2016-2017 academic year comes to a close at Colorado State University, we simultaneously wrap multiple performing and visual arts productions and exhibitions at the University Center for the Arts, recognize deserving students and faculty at a plethora of year-end awards events across campus, and conclude it all with the big deal of ceremonies – graduation!

I’ll spare you any words of wisdom or anecdotes about graduating, leaving that task to the true experts whose commencement day prose will be perfect! However, I recently read a letter my husband wrote to his son on the occasion of his son’s graduation. These words are not only applicable to students leaving university life, but to all of us who walk out the front door each morning, embarking on life’s daily duties and opportunities.

In order to keep this letter to one page, I have had to dispense with the notion that I can fill it with all of the advice and cautions I can muster (which are numerous, as you know). I will simply leave you with two words that I contend serve all of us well regardless of life situation, political or religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc:

Be good. Every day. Every way. To everyone. To yourself. Follow that advice and everything else will come out in the wash.

There’s a lot there. Read it again.

It’s been quite a year, but as we exit the 2016- 2017 season, I can recall many truly good aspects, not just the creativity, talent, commitment, and development, but the insightful and tender way our students take care of each other. It’s a refreshing display of altruism in these somewhat turbulent times. I like to think that the community we have created inside these walls will continue to nourish each other and serve as an example for the thousands of guests we welcome into our “home” here at the UCA every year.

Keep it up, and may this summer be good to you! Read the May 2017 issue of The Green Room.

Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Marketing Director, University Center for the Arts


In The Green Room: April 2017

cover of the April 2017 issue of The Green Room

April 2017: The Green Room

It’s The Green Room’s anniversary! Our creatively crafted and responsibly delivered online showcase of all things performing and visual arts at Colorado State University is now two years old. As you continue to engage with the arts at CSU, we hope our free, story-telling solution continues to be a part of the mix. Click here to read the magazine.

April is an exquisite time of year with the lovely crab apple trees in full bloom. Fort Collins has a special affinity for the varied-colored trees, with their heavy clusters of blossoms. Laden with meaning, the blooms were considered a symbol of artistic creativity by the Celts. Perhaps with the trees encircling the UCA as a contributing factor, April is the culminating month for events each academic year, and 2017 doesn’t disappoint! This month’s highlight events include the Spring Dance Concert, the opening of Little Shop of Horrors, The Musical, and two nights of the University Symphony Orchestra.

As you read the pages of our second anniversary issue, we hope you find an event that feels tailored to your tastes, and that we see you at the UCA soon. Altogether, it is an ideal time to visit campus!

If you’ve enjoyed this publication, please share it, send us your own story ideas and news. We thank you for your ongoing readership and support!

Cheers,
Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Marketing Director, University Center for the Arts


In The Green Room: February 2017

February 2017 Green Room coverIt’s been a little bit since we last visited with you in The Green Room. We truly hope your holidays were pleasant and that 2017 is going well already. At the University Center for the Arts, Jan. set a fast pace for the spring semester, even before the students arrived back on campus.

In the last three weeks, there have been five guest artist and faculty recitals, a Classical Convergence Concert, three art exhibition openings with a reception, theatre production and music ensemble auditions, three master classes, a creative writing book reading, dance visit/audition day, and the start of the 11-week Middle School Outreach Ensembles program. We hosted a delegation of music students and faculty from China, including two full-scale concerts, and we took our show on the road to Colorado Springs for the annual Colorado Music Educators Association Clinic-Conference where a dozen of our music faculty presented sessions, Jazz Ensemble I played a concert, and we welcomed over 150 alumni and friends at a reception. Incredible!

We’re particularly thrilled to note the success of our dance visit and audition day, where over two dozen aspiring dance majors took master classes with CSU faculty and watched a performance by current CSU dance majors. Equally inspiring were master classes with several world-renowned guests including The Canadian Brass, trombonist Joe Alessi, and the acapella group Cantus. As we strive to create a diverse and collaborative artistic community, input from young dreamers and sage professionals alike is salve for our souls and fuels our motivation.

And that was just January!

Take care,
Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Director of Marketing, University Center for the Arts

The Green Room is the University Center for the Arts’ online magazine. Click here to check it out and “follow” us today!


Preparing for your Music Career in the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that your holiday break was one of rest and good company. Classes are now underway, and it will be another busy semester of teaching, concerts, and auditions.

So much is written about resolutions for the new year, but we all know that sticking to them is a challenge.There was an excellent blog posting on Angela Myles Beeching’s website (she is pictured above) that has a great way to plan for 2017 by focusing on your accomplishments from last year, and how to better plan for this year. I went through all the items, and I discovered that I accomplished quite a bit in 2016. Check out her site, “The Professional Musician’s Roadmap,” and sign up for her weekly postings!

This semester there will be a shift in focus for this blog, along the lines of what Ms. Beeching does. Whether you are a high school student, undergraduate, graduate student, or professional, as musicians we always need to be looking ahead to what we would like our lives to be. Very few careers are a straight line, and a music career is no exception. It’s never too early to begin to plan for your musical life once you are a professional, so why not take half an hour to sit with a cup of coffee, tea or water, and write down how you see yourself as a professional musician. I’ll tell you my story in the next posting.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Until next time,
Margaret Miller


In The Green Room: Wow, I’ve Got Nothing…

2016 December Green Room coverThe Green Room is the University Center for the Arts’ online magazine. Click here to check it out and “follow” us today!

December 2016: As I put keyboard to paper this month, my first thought is “Wow, I’ve got nothing…”

As I stare at this practically blank page, I realize that this way of thinking is not only inaccurate, but diminishes the value of a whole lot of time and effort, both mine, and everyone else at the University Center for the Arts.

This semester, I’ve watched the comings and goings of over a 1000 students who spend a portion or most of their day at the UCA each week; I hear a satisfying cacophony holistically emitting from 50 practice rooms at the south end of the building, no matter the time of day; I smell wood being cut in the scene shop as that delicious scent wafts down the hall; I hear the crunch of the ice machine as a dancer fills an ice pack the end of a grueling rehearsal; I see Poudre School District buses pull up in front and little kids holding hands as they wind their way into the museum; and I hear the rhythmic chug of our large color printer churning out programs and posters for hours at a time.

I could go on and on…and easily fill ten pages, but that’s simply a glimpse into a few elements comprising the learning and creative process that took place at the UCA during the 2016 fall semester, and all the semesters before that. And it’s precisely the ten pages’ worth of activities, events, tasks, and exercises that initially left me with nothing to say.

Don’t we all do this though? Pour everything into our art, or whatever else we are dedicated to, until we are depleted and imagine that we have nothing left. But in truth, we have everything, it’s all around us, reflected in our satisfaction with a performance or research project, the photos, and videos taken at events, and in the memories our immense efforts created.

This issue of The Green Room shares some of those captured moments and foretells of projects that will be memories soon. After that, the UCA will pause and rejuvenate until classes resume later in Jan. Until then, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Take care,
Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Director of Marketing, University Center for the Arts


Tick tock, tick tock…

I am annually amazed at how quickly Nov. arrives; I look back at my post from Aug., when the year was just underway and the Thanksgiving break seemed a long way off. And now it’s here, which means that there are three weeks of classes before juries. As I recently told my studio, it’s time to find your extra gear.

I am finding my extra gear, as well. For me, there is one more concert for the semester tonight, a chamber music concert with my faculty colleagues. I very much enjoy these programs and working with my fellow musicians. No doubt you all have concerts before the end of the semester, and so I encourage you to enjoy those events, enjoy the work that you have done this semester, enjoy performing with your colleagues. These are relationships that can last a life time.

But also enjoy the down time during the Thanksgiving break. You have all worked very hard, and that does not go unnoticed. Refuel, rejuvenate, and power through.

Until next time,
Margaret Miller
Assistant Professor of Viola


On to the next event…

Hello, everyone! I’m sure for many of you it is mid-terms, and the accompanying stress that goes with it. Sleep is your friend right now, remember that!

I am a week off in my postings as I had my recital last Monday. It went pretty well, and I am always grateful for the friends and former students who attend. I had the opportunity to play most of the program at Chadron State College in Neb. a few weeks earlier, and it makes such a difference to have more than one performance of a program. So, if you have a recital later this semester, look for other performance opportunities off campus. You will gain a great deal with the extra performing.

So, as the title of today’s blog suggests, it is time to move on to the next stack of music! I am playing the Haydn Creation with ProMusica Colorado in a few weeks, so there is quite a bit of music there to get in my fingers, plus a faculty chamber music concert in mid-Nov. Never a dull moment!

Until next time,
Margaret Miller
Professor of Viola