The newest episode of our university podcast, ‘MindfulU at Naropa University,’ is out on iTunes, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are very excited to announce this week’s episode features the Mark Miller, Chair of the BA in Music at Naropa University.
“Improvisation is a wonderful contemplative practice—a mindfulness practice—a discipline that has to do with paying attention in a very precise way to what’s going on in the present moment. It’s about showing up—being open to whatever is happening musically, to whatever my colleagues are playing, or to the environment of the room—the acoustics, the audience, that sort of thing—and really drawing inspiration from that. Paying attention to all of that requires one hundred percent concentration. Music happens so quickly, so naturally, your intellectual mind really can’t keep up with it. The brain can’t be analyzing and explaining and interpreting why you’re playing, you just have to play. To me, that means you show up and play who you are.”
Mark Miller plays soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, alto flute, bass flute, and shakuhachi, the bamboo flute traditionally associated with Japanese Zen Buddhism. He has performed and recorded with a wide variety of improvising artists including Art Lande, Tuck and Patti, David Darling, Paul McCandless, Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog, and poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg.
His recordings with pianist Art Lande include two albums of improvised duets, and “World Without Cars,” named a “top ten album of the year” by Cadence Magazine. To date, he has recorded eight albums with pianist Peter Kater, including “Illumination,” nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013.
Mark holds an M.F.A. degree in jazz performance from California Institute of the Arts and is currently Chair of the Music program in Naropa University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches musicianship, improvisation, jazz history and the Contemplative Learning Seminar.