Katie Miller - Alumni Feature

Tue, Nov 8, 2016

Name: Katie Miller

Instrument of study at KPU: Piano

Graduation: 2010

I began my post-secondary musical studies at Kwantlen Langley Campus, in 2008. Having graduated from Langley Secondary School it was a nice transition, consisting of no significant move of location. I studied piano at Kwantlen for two years, completing my diploma in music. During this time I also took voice lessons as an elective and a secondary instrument. I grew very fond of this major and chose it as my specialty when I auditioned at UBC to transfer to a degree program in 2010. I then completed my bachelors and masters in opera performance at the University of British Columbia in 2015.  During my studies, I participated in the Kiwanis Music Festival for voice, which lead me to compete at the national level in Waterloo, Ontario in 2013 with first prize in the vocal competition. The following school year I tried the Metropolitan Opera Western Canada District competition and although I did not move through to the following round, I received the Encouragement Award scholatship.  In 2014 I auditioned for the Strauss Scholarship at UBC which provided me with some funds to go study at the International Summer Academy at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. This was an invaluable experience as a person who is working towards an international career because it opened my eyes to the training and business methods in Europe, while giving me a taste of European culture. During my time there (a wonderful 6 weeks) I participated in the Richard Strauss Anniversary Competition, winning a cash prize in second place. And in 2015 I participated in a Montreal-based competition: Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyrique, which awarded me a 10-day trip to Japan to sing with a Japanese pianist in 4 concerts, and also awarded me an opportunity which I am still in the process of securing. That is a week of training in February 2017 with an opera company in France.

Recently, I have begun my first year with the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opera de Montreal, in Montreal QC. It is a young artist position within the opera company that roughly translates to what people would call an internship in a normal office job. I am employed by the company to sing and perform in concerts around the city as they simultaneously provide guidance, skill building workshops and networking opportunities to assist me in launching my career.

When I started university in 2008, I also began to teach piano lessons, and in 2015 I began to teach voice lessons. I continue to teach on the side during my time here in Montreal.  

Between graduation in May of 2015 and beginning the position in Montreal in August of 2016, I put to use the skills I had learned from my studies. The hands-on professional experience of performing in university and applying for outside programs and scholarships taught me how important, and how essential it is to be creative and innovative and to make my own opportunities.  Examples are a few performing gigs that I contracted out myself. One was singing and playing piano in the lobby of the Telus Garden Building in downtown Vancouver in the 2015-16 year. The other is a Mariachi concert that I organized, planned and performed in on August 19th, 2016.  Both of these projects I worked on as I taught, worked a temporary reception job at an office, and traveled for auditions around Canada, the States and Europe. The final result was my contract in Montreal and the opportunity to meet and work with many people, artists, and musicians on an international scale.

Advice for current and prospective students: One must work hard and set goals - big or small - but the most important thing is to have the positive passion and drive to continue with something you have started. When things seem impossible or too difficult, a change in perspective can sometimes make life-changing differences. I am extremely passionate about what I do, and it takes a lot of hard work, many, many hours of practicing, planning, organization and preparation, but my faith has always kept me strong and convicted. The most important thing for a young artist, or any artist, is to remember always to enjoy what you do and to have fun sharing your talents and hard work with others. That is the fundamental goal of it all, so it must be kept in mind when the hard work begins to weigh heavy.