November 8, 2021
When Miamon Miller, a musician and resident of Montezuma, moved away, he donated a number of orchestral instruments and music books to the Highlands University music department.
Miller is an ethnomusicologist and composer who has arranged music for film, composed for theatre, and has played with classical and folk groups, including mariachi. As a musician, Miller owned a wide range of various instruments, many of which he donated to Highlands University.
Among the instruments he donated, Miller said he gave Highlands a number of violins, a couple of clarinets, and a mandolin. He said the instruments were all playable and a few were high quality.
“I wanted to donate to the people who understood what I was giving,” said Miller. “And hopefully, if not immediately being put to good use, being put to use down the line.”
Highlands music professor Edward Harrington said the violins are good quality and will be put to immediate use because there are three violin students at Highlands right now—something he noted is not typical. Harrington said it can be hard to plan ahead, so Miller’s donation is especially helpful in that regard.
“We don’t get six months’ notice that we need these things,” said Harrington. “So, even the instruments that Miamon donated that might sit in a locked cabinet for a semester or two, you never know when we’re going to have students who needs those instruments.”
Harrington said the music department at Highlands is small so it’s helpful to be able to have instruments on hand for students to borrow for the jazz ensemble, and for students taking courses in music technology and instrumental techniques.
“The other thing he donated were some really nice song books—jazz music books, and some classical music scores,” said Harrington. “The books are very helpful because they’re right along the lines of the things we’re doing in jazz ensemble now.”
Harrington said he appreciated that Miller reached out to ask what would be useful to Highlands so that the donation would be put to good use.
“We gladly accept donations; it really helps out,” said Harrington. “Donations of instruments of any kind are always welcome and very helpful. We are absolutely grateful for Miamon Miller’s donation.”
Harrington said he believes one of the violins is better than any of the violins students are currently using. According to Miller, having a high-quality instrument can be the reason a student continues to play, because it takes much more effort to make a lower-quality instrument sound good.
Although Miller did not have a previous affiliation with Highlands, he said that he has a history of donating instruments, including a donation to a youth musical group in Los Angeles, where he previously lived for many years.
“I liked the idea that they were going to kids who needed to find something playable,” said Miller. “So, there was a little bit of a history of that. I’d already established donation as my preferred way of doing things.”
Juli Salman, director of alumni relations and annual giving, said the New Mexico Highlands University Foundation is always grateful for both monetary and in-kind gifts made to support students.
“During the process of accepting in-kind gifts, we communicate with donors to make sure that the offered gifts can be utilized either directly by our students and university or can be sold to provide funds for our programs,” said Salman. “In the case of Mr. Miller’s gift of musical instruments, we communicated with our music department to make sure that the instruments would be useful to music program before accepting. This gift is a wonderful asset to Highlands.”