Finding Common Ground

By Courtney Miller

Do you ever have ideas that might seem a little crazy? People often use nicer words to describe crazy: creative, innovative, thought-provoking, unique, groundbreaking, but let’s be real, sometimes these are just euphemisms for crazy.  Before I delve too off topic and go all Gnarls Barkley, I should introduce myself.  My name is Courtney Miller. I am a classical musician and I am pursuing my Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Boston University.  True confession: I also play the oboe.  My crazy idea for the day is to collaborate with a hip-hop dancer, Ernest “E-Knock” Phillips to make a hip-hop/krump dance video to my performance of the “Adagio” from Mozart’s Oboe Quartet.

Are you still with me?  I can’t hear you, but I assume you’re still there. How did I get to this “creative” place?

Do you ever wonder who you are or think about who you want to be? Becoming a more skilled musician and oboist consumes most of my time and energy. I often lose myself in the pursuit of the beauty of music. (I should mention that am extremely grateful for this latter part). However, am I defined only be the oboe? Do my closest friends and family love me because I play the oboe?  To be honest, I think that those who are closest to me actually love me despite the fact that I play the oboe. Only a few of my meaningful relationships are built around a shared enthusiasm for a morning warm-up that consists of scales and long tones. Upon reflection, I find that my closest relationships originate from shared experiences or interests and grow into relationships filled with trust, laughter, loyalty, and love.

I know we just met, but I’m going to put my cards on the table and share more things about myself. I really enjoy most outdoor activities: walking, hiking, cycling, swimming etc.  Of course, I also love hanging out with friends and eating. Now you don’t even have to read my online dating profile. My long-winded point is that I started wondering how I could incorporate some of my other interests with my passion for music. Can my other interests produce more common ground to connect further with audiences? If I’m interested in something, maybe someone else also shares that interest. They say we are all human. My motivation behind this hip-hop video and my other recent video projects is to connect with people on a deeper level by sharing music and more of who I am with them.

Now, because you are pretty observant you may have noticed that I did not put dancing as one of my interests/skill sets.  I mean I dance around my apartment a fair amount, but I try not to subject too many other people to this exhibition.

Before continuing, I must confess a guilty pleasure; sometimes, I watch TV.  One of my favorite shows every summer is “So You Think You Can Dance.” I don’t personally suffer from that particular delusion, but I do thoroughly enjoy the show.  Without fail I am captivated and moved by the choreography. It is for this reason that I contacted two dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance” to collaborate with me on my videos. I’m not that knowledgeable about dance, but I know I really enjoy watching it. I suspect strongly the same principal applies to music.  I don’t necessarily care how much you know about the music I play, but I definitely want you to enjoy it! The more you enjoy and experience music, the more your knowledge of it will grow. This is the working hypothesis for my video projects.  My goal is is to create a fresh perspective on classical music and to invite people from all walks of life and backgrounds to experience it.

Music is a huge part of my life. It encompasses most of my thoughts throughout the day.  I’ve devoted my life to understanding and performing it. I made these videos to share my perspective and passion for music with you.  I invite you to watch them and come into my world. My honest hope is that you enjoy my videos and share them.

One of my favorite quotes is from C. S. Lewis:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like music, like art…..It has no survival value, rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”  This quote eloquently illustrates the inherent bond between my professional pursuit of music and the values that I personally hold most dear.

Who knows, maybe “we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy.”


Courtney Miller is a member of the chamber ensemble VirtuosoSoloists and is an active free-lancer in Boston. Ms. Miller teaches oboe at Boston College and is on faculty at New England Conservatory Preparatory Department.  Her debut CD, Modern Fairy Tales, will be released June 9th on Centaur Records.

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