ENMU Interim Director of Choirs Named President-Elect of the New Mexico Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association

Ken Miller
Ken Miller

ENMU Interim Director of Choirs Named President-Elect of the New Mexico Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association

Kenneth "Ken" Miller, who served as interim director of choirs at Eastern New Mexico University for the spring 2018 semester, was recently elected president-elect of the New Mexico Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (NMACDA).

The American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is the primary national professional organization for choral conductors.

Mr. Miller has been a member of NMACDA for 14 years and a member of ACDA since 1981. He was the president of the Oklahoma Chapter during his time teaching choral music at a high school in the state.

"The annual ACDA conferences are the most important Continuing Education opportunities that we have as choral conductors," said Mr. Miller. "ACDA is important as a networking organization where colleagues collaborate and share. The annual conventions are an opportunity to hear the finest choirs in the nation, to learn from master conductors and to develop our craft."

His role as the president-elect includes serving as a voting Board member and shadowing and assisting the current president.

Mr. Miller explained that the "most important task" of the president-elect is to "listen intently to the membership to gauge the pulse and needs of the membership. It is vital that the state chapter remain constantly relevant to the needs of our membership."

He will serve as president-elect until July 2019, then take over as president for a two-year term. After that, he will remain a voting member of the Board as past president.

He is excited for the opportunity to "get to know more of my colleagues across our state. [This is] an opportunity to give back to an organization which has given me so much support and training over the decades."

Mr. Miller is preparing for his new position by "listening to as broad a swath of our membership as I can to engage in conversations about the future of our organization."

When asked about his goals for the position, Mr. Miller explained he wants the organization to "do much more to foster mentoring relationships with young choral conductors entering our profession. The attrition rate is alarmingly high among beginning teachers. I hope we can discover and create ways to mentor young teachers so that their beginning years are less stressful and more survivable."

The president-elect grew up on a farm and ranch in Perryton, Texas, northeast of Amarillo. His father was a physicist and head of the Math Department at Perryton High School. "He always laughed that he taught school so that he could afford to farm," said Mr. Miller. His mother was a homemaker, and his younger brother took over the family farm.

Mr. Miller received a Bachelor of Music with majors in church music and choral music education from Hardin-Simmons University in 1979 and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Texas at Austin in 1981. He completed a post-graduate study in choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in 1983 and Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 1985-1989.

He pursued a career in music because an undergraduate choral conductor "inspired me to devote my life to teaching kids how to create beautiful and meaningful music."

Mr. Miller taught choral music in high schools in Abilene and Austin, Texas, Düsseldorf, Germany, Oklahoma and, currently, Carlsbad, New Mexico. He is also adjunct faculty in music at New Mexico State University-Carlsbad, where he has taught online and face-to-face classes in "Introduction to Music" and "History of Jazz" for six years.

He served as interim director of choral activities at ENMU for the spring 2018 semester. He directed three ENMU Choirs (University Singers, Chamber Singers, and Swanee Singers), taught "Beginning Choral Conducting" and "Advanced Aural Skills" and continued active recruiting duties.

"I was honored to be invited by Dr. Jason Paulk [professor of music] and the ENMU Department of Music to serve in this capacity this semester. I was granted a Professional Leave of Absence from the Carlsbad Municipal Schools in order for me to accept this opportunity," he explained.

"My favorite thing about the ENMU Department of Music is its seriousness of purpose in providing the finest available undergraduate education in music to our students," said Mr. Miller, who enjoyed the "daily interactions making beautiful music with these fine ENMU music students and my teaching colleagues."

When asked who influences him, Mr. Miller explained that he has "been fortunate to have learned under terrific teachers over the years who have shared their craft and passion with me. I am grateful to each of them."

His role model was a "composer in Abilene, who taught me how to hear the language of music and why it is important for a conductor. Dr. Macon Sumerlin and his lovely wife, Bobbie, taught me, as a young beginning teacher, how to expertly read, hear and teach the language of music. I will forever be grateful for their influence on my life and my craft."

The member of the National Association for Music Education and the International Choral Federation has been married to his "lovely wife, Lisa, for 33 years. She is a fabulous pianist and terrific elementary music teacher in her own right."

The couple has four sons between the ages of 15-26. Three of their sons attend the University of New Mexico, and their youngest son is a freshman at Carlsbad High School.

"We have a family golden lab, Sooner, and his nemesis, Sox, the cat who sits in our laps just to annoy Sooner because he's too big for a lap dog," added Mr. Miller, who has served as a Minister of Music for a variety of congregations over the decades.

Mr. Miller's accomplishments include having his choirs in Carlsbad named "Back-To-Back State Champions" in 2012 and 2013. They have been runner-up twice and third place three times in the last ten years. In 2016, he was named a finalist by The University of Rochester for the "Singer Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education."

At Eastern, he was invited to be inducted into the Kappa Kappa Si, ENMU's honor band fraternity, and Phi Mu Alpha, the honor music fraternity for men. "That our students would select me for honorary induction to their fraternities is one of the finest affirmations I could receive," he said.

"I am grateful to ENMU for this opportunity to serve this semester. I am grateful to the students and faculty of the Department of Music for their support, encouragement and their compelling music making."