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Ben Miller was born in 1993 in the Philippines to a scientist mother and a journalist father. In 1996, he moved to Lima, Peru. Detecting musical potential, his parents signed him up for piano lessons at the age of 5. In 2001, the family moved to Ithaca, New York, where Ben continued his classical study.

Portrait by Alex Sandvoss

At 13, Ben discovered the greatness of jazz while learning the ragtime music of Scott Joplin, hearing records by jazz greats for the first time, and meeting a few wonderful musicians.  He began taking lessons in jazz improvisation with local pianists Molly MacMillan and John Stetch. As his love for jazz grew, Ben started forming small combos with friends like the Jazzmanian Devils, attending summer jazz programs like the Ithaca All-Star Jazz Invitational and Jazz in July at UMass Amherst, and joined a community big band called The Ageless Jazz Band.  He also started studying alto saxophone with local legend Joe Salzano.  Ben became a part of school combos and big bands on both piano and saxophone.

Performing solo rendition of
“Captain Marvel” by Chick Corea at
High School Concert

Ben went on to establish himself in the upstate NY music playing festivals, shows, and solo gigs. He became highly in-demand and was a member of several local groups including the Jesse Collins Quartet and Professor Tuesday’s Jazz Quartet. In 2011, Ben went on to study at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montréal, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance with distinction and a minor in Musical Applications of Technology (MAT).  While there, he was a member of the McGill Chamber Jazz Ensemble and the McGill Big Band.

Goofin’ off in Montréal during undergrad days

After completing his bachelors degree, Ben spent the next summer working for a moving company in Ithaca in order to gather the funds to move to Brooklyn to pursue further musical growth.  By joining late-night jam sessions, he was able to meet musicians and establish meaningful connections. Within a couple months, he could be found playing weekly shows with the house band at the Williamsburg Music Center with some of Brooklyn’s finest musicians while working with duos and trios on the side.

Ben recording one of his originals entitled “Unjaded Hero” with trio at Queens College

Two years later, Ben moved to Harlem and was awarded a $30K scholarship to begin his master degree at Manhattan School of Music.  In his first semester, he had the privilege of being a member of the MSM Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, an enormous ensemble consisting of brass, woodwinds, strings, and rhythm section.  At MSM, he is currently attending classes and ensembles, taking private lessons with Phil Markowitz, composing music in both the jazz and classical idioms, arranging, and digital film scoring.  In addition to the piano, Ben has recently created a home studio where he hopes to expand into many new areas of composition, digital production, and film scoring in the future.  Altogether, Ben is enjoying being part of the NYC music scene.

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