A! Magazine for the Arts

Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller

Milligan student studying music in Nashville

April 30, 2013

Milligan College sophomore Johnny Miller, of Johnson City, Tenn., is soaking in the sights and sounds of Nashville this semester as part of an off-campus study program that is preparing him for a career in music.

Miller is enrolled in the "BestSemester" program's Contemporary Music Center in Nashville. The CMC program provides an interdisciplinary off-campus study program that provides a community for young musicians, engineers and aspiring music executives to plumb the depths of their creative souls and test the waters of a career in popular music.

Designed as an artists' community, the program seeks to develop artists, technicians and music executives with a Christ-centered vision for music content, production and delivery. The mission of the CMC is to prepare students academically and creatively for potential careers in the music industry.

Miller grew up with a passion for music. At an early age, he learned to play piano and later discovered a love for the guitar. As his love for music grew, he learned several instruments and played music throughout high school.

In college, Miller has continued to develop his musical skills. He has played music for numerous bands, performed in various chapel services, student music events, and Vespers, a student-led worship service.

His faculty mentor, Dr. Carrie Swanay, encouraged Miller to pursue the CMC internship in Nashville after she witnessed his musical talent.

"Some of my students came to my house one weekend and a few brought their instruments," Swanay said. "We set up a little jam session out on my deck and Johnny played his guitar. I knew at that moment that he is a talented young Christian man and he will go far with his music."

Miller was interested in the program after Swanay suggested it to him, but his interest really piqued when interns from CMC came to Milligan last fall and put on a concert for the students and community.

"I knew then that I wanted to attend that program," said Miller.

Miller had to earn his spot at CMC. The program normally only accepts juniors and seniors, but he proved his talent and secured a spot in Nashville as the youngest intern in the program this semester.

While at CMC, Miller has learned more than he ever thought possible. Each morning, he and several other students have classes to hone their musical skills and songwriting abilities. The professors offer encouragement and critique students' work so they will grow as musicians.

Every Thursday, the music students perform a live show to audiences in the Nashville area to practice their new songs. They also will embark on a "CMC Live" tour, which will visit several colleges throughout the northeast area. Each concert is student organized and led.

In just a few months at CMC, Miller realizes the amount of information he has learned.

"I have learned so much during my time here," said Miller. "I had never written music before this internship, and now I have written several songs. I found a songwriting side in me that I never knew."

Along with music knowledge, Miller has also learned several business skills. He ultimately wants to work in the music industry. CMC has helped him to navigate the business side of the music industry. He understands more about copyrights, labels, working with others and several other business aspects that will help him to be successful in the music world.

Miller also has thought about what he will do once he returns to Milligan in the fall.

"I plan to take all my business courses and look at them through the perspective of my love for music," said Miller. "The new passion that sparked at CMC will carry over into my classes when I return to Milligan."