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Tell me about your work is a new interview series published by the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. We're interested in knowing more about the work life of our alumni, what role their musical education plays in the work they do, and what their musical lives are like now. Knowing this will give current students a broader sense of the career paths they could follow, and could suggest ways to prepare for them while they are still studying at UNT. --John Murphy

Tell me about your work: Lindsey Miller

Tell me about your work is a new interview series published by the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. We're interested in knowing more about the work life of our alumni, what role their musical education plays in the work they do, and what their musical lives are like now. Knowing this will give current students a broader sense of the career paths they could follow, and could suggest ways to prepare for them while they are still studying at UNT.

John Murphy


Lindsey Miller

B.M. in Jazz Studies, 2006

M.M., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2013

Lindsey Miller playing guitar in a pop band with lead singer in foreground

What sort of work do you do?

I'm a freelance guitarist in Nashville, TN. My work consists of recording sessions, tours, television, musicals, and local gigs. My recent credits includes a 2016 Christmas tour I did with Contemporary Christian artist Lauren Daigle, and I also appeared in four episodes of Season 5 of the TV show Nashville.

What led to you doing this sort of work?

When I first moved to Nashville, I thought I wanted to phase out of playing and find a full time job in a related field. However, after living here a year, I was getting a steady amount of work, and it was much more fulfilling to play music than to search for a job. So I ended up staying with it.

How did you prepare for it?

Probably the most important thing I did was learn to sight read well. I know that sounds weird for a country music town, but it's a skill that's needed and not many guitar players in Nashville do it. It's brought some cool opportunities my way.

What's a typical day like?

Every day is different, and that's what I like so much about it. There are some months where I'll be traveling a lot, some months I'll be busy with sessions, some months I'll be playing at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) or working on a TV episode.

What do you find most rewarding about it?

College, in some respects, was a frustrating experience for me, so if you had told me back then that I'd get to play with all these great musicians, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Aside from that, I love the culture and history of this town, the tight knit community of players, and I'm extremely grateful to find a small place in the scene here.

What do you find most challenging about it?

Self employed musicians have a unique set of career challenges. We don't have an employer to provide us with health insurance and 401K plans. Our taxes are complicated and qualifying for mortgages can be difficult. The good news is that with common sense and responsible money management most of these challenges can be overcome.

What role, if any, did your musical education at UNT play in preparing for this work?

UNT's high pressure, fast paced atmosphere was a good foreshadowing of what work is like here. Recording sessions can sometimes move so fast, and you don't want to be the one who slows everything down.

What might you have done differently during your time at UNT if you knew you would be doing this sort of work now?

I wish I had known more about the business side of music. Before moving to Nashville, I had never heard of the Federal Musicians' Pension, doing work on the union card, joint venture deals, or the different types of pay rates for recording sessions. These are all great financial resources/incentives for freelance musicians. On the performance side I definitely wish I had started diversifying my skill set way earlier in my college career. I wish I had started investing in guitars, utility instruments, effects, and amps earlier. I wish I had started learning about Pro Tools much earlier; not just learning the software side, but also how to come up with signature guitar parts and layer guitar tracks.

What else would you like readers to know about your work?

You can follow me on my instagram @lbmiller83 to see more about my gear and what kind of jobs I'm currently doing.

What other jobs have you had since leaving UNT?

When I first moved here, I worked as an unpaid intern at a music booking agency copying and pasting about 300 to 500 emails a day. I eventually got so fast at it, that they started paying me to do it.

Tell me about your work: Tahira Clayton

Tell me about your work is a new interview series published by the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. We're interested in knowing more about the work life of our alumni, what role their musical education plays in the work they do, and what their musical lives are like now. Knowing this will give current students a broader sense of the career paths they could follow, and could suggest ways to prepare for them while they are still studying at UNT.

John Murphy


Tahira Clayton

B.A. in Music, 2015

Tahira Clayton singing in a recording studio

Breaking news (June 2017): Tahira Clayton and the AMP Trio won the DC Jazz Prix at the Washington, D.C. Jazz Festival

What sort of work do you do?

I am a freelance musician (instrument: vocals) and early childhood educator.

What led to you doing this sort of work?

As a 16-year-old, I booked my first professional work with a corporate variety band as their lead singer. During my time at UNT, I started performing with my own groups as well as being a side-woman with other small groups throughout Denton and Dallas. Now based in New York City, I realized quickly that if I hustled hard enough and diversified myself, I would be able to sustain a living being a musician. The early childhood education came during my UNT years as well, sort of out of necessity. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed teaching younger kids until I started doing it and have stuck with it.

How did you prepare for it?

I don't know that I consciously prepared for life as a freelancer. I was fortunate enough to gain gig experience at an early age that undoubtedly prepared me for present day. Getting a degree in music certainly gave me skills I would need to be diverse as a musician and educator.

What's a typical day like?

Lots of travel! My time is spent a little differently every day, however a typical day for me right now involves teaching chorus at 2 public elementary schools in NYC, then heading to a music academy in Long Island where I teach private voice, piano, and early childhood classes, and usually ending the day with a gig (either my own or a private event type of deal) or a rehearsal of some kind. That being said, today I did none of those things and was in a recording studio for most of the day. A little different every day.

What do you find most rewarding about it?

I can go home knowing that I shared a little bit of the joy I have for music with someone else, whether it be a student, client, collaborator, or audience member. I get to see folks' reactions to a new original song, or old standard, and celebrate with a student or choir when they've learned something and applied it to their own music. That will always be cool to me.

What do you find most challenging about it?

Money is certainly the first thing that comes to mind, but even more so dealing with the personalities of different people in different situations.

What role, if any, did your musical education at UNT play in preparing for this work?

Though I was playing before UNT, I didn't really know anything about music except for artists and songs I liked. The UNT environment shaped me up on theory, vocal technique, sight-reading--all things that help me do my work well. Also: a major shout-out to my jazz keys teacher and all my applied piano lessons teachers. I never knew I would be playing so much piano/sight-reading now!

What might you have done differently during your time at UNT if you knew you would be doing this sort of work now?

I would have definitely take more pedagogy and music education courses.

What else would you like readers to know about your work?

Don't be timid to do music full time. It is possible. Diversify and conquer!

What other jobs have you had since leaving UNT?

I did have a brief stint at a neighborhood grocery store my first summer in New York City. Word got out to the customers that I was a vocalist, and I would sometimes sing for some of the older ladies when they came through my check-out line. That was a fun time.

Music can be found at my website: www.tahiraclayton.com.

Tell me about your work: Colin Hinton

Tell me about your work is a new interview series published by the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. We're interested in knowing more about the work life of our alumni, what role their musical education plays in the work they do, and what their musical lives are like now. Knowing this will give current students a broader sense of the career paths they could follow, and could suggest ways to prepare for them while they are still studying at UNT.

 

John Murphy


Colin Hinton

BM – Jazz Studies - UNT (2006-2011, not completed)
BFA – Jazz Performance – City College of New York
MA – Music Performance – City College of New York

Colin Hinton playing drumset

What sort of work do you do?

I am a freelance musician, composer, bandleader, and educator.

What led to you doing this sort of work? How did you prepare for it?

I've been playing music since I was four years old. When I realized that I could do it professionally (around age 12-13), I made it my goal to achieve that dream. I prepared for this by studying and practicing intensely. I spent almost 10 years in college pursuing (and finishing) both an undergraduate and advanced degree in music. I spent many years of my life practicing 4+ hours a day with no days off. I still actively take private lessons in both drumming and composition. I plan to go back and pursue a DMA in composition in a few years.

What's a typical day like?

There's really not a typical day, but generally, I try to be up by 8 a.m. (this obviously is subject to change if I had a late gig the night before). By 9 a.m., I'm answering emails and figuring out what my goals need to be for the day, i.e. if I need to focus more on practicing, composing, organizing, promoting, etc. This can also change depending on my rehearsal/gig/teaching schedule for the day. If I have a night "off," I try to go out and hear musicians I'm either friends with or want to work with.

What do you find most rewarding about it?

I love creating work that I find valuable and portrays an accurate reflection of where I am in my life. I've done 9-5 jobs outside of music and I quickly realized it was not the path for me. I honestly don't know what other career path would have worked for me.

What do you find most challenging about it?

Surviving in NYC off a gig-based economy can be depressing at times, but I find the rewards outweigh the financial hardships. Teaching college students who seem to have no interest in the tradition of the music (not that I am a traditionalist--at all) can be incredibly trying, and I often find myself being needlessly frustrated due to this. However, teaching students that DO listen to your advice and hearing them grow exponentially as improvisers is incredibly rewarding.

What role, if any, did your musical education at UNT play in preparing for this work?

Though I did not finish my degree at UNT (even though I was there for five years), my time at North Texas was invaluable. Studying with Ed Soph for five years was amazing. I owe Ed a great deal for helping me become the musician I am today, and I'm happy that him and I are still in touch. I also had the opportunity to play and work with Lynn Seaton, Fred Hamilton, Brad Leali, Stefan Karlsson, and John Murphy frequently throughout my time at UNT. Working with the faculty opened me up to all types of different ideologies behind improvising and showed me different ways to think about and listen to music. Prof. Murphy inspired me to become involved in ethnomusicology and is largely responsible for my branching out from the "jazz" world.

What might you have done differently during your time at UNT if you knew you would be doing this sort of work now?

I think about this often. The music I am involved in now is drastically different from what I did at North Texas. However, my studies at North Texas gave me the foundation I needed to branch out and pursue a different path. I would have invested more time in composition and studying classical music. This was not an avenue I had much interest in during my time at North Texas, but as I became older, my interest (see: obsession) in the avant-garde, 20th century classical music, and the AACM became the focus of my musical world. This was the focus of my graduate studies.

What else would you like readers to know about your work?

I try to stay active as a performer/composer across multiple musical platforms. I still play "standard" gigs, but I'm also incredibly involved in Brooklyn's "new-music" scene. I'm also writing for classical ensembles now. I am having a few pieces premiered in Italy in July. I lead a band named Facehugger. We'll be recording our first record in the fall (this will also be my first record as a leader), and I hope to have it released this winter.

What other jobs have you had since leaving UNT?

Upon moving to NYC, I secured a job teaching at a small music school. I quickly left this job as the company was poorly organized and drastically underpaid their teachers. I've had loads of horrible day jobs. One summer in NYC I flipped burgers at an outdoor restaurant. That was the job that made me decide to go back to college to finish my undergraduate studies and continue to grad school. For about a year while finishing my undergrad I worked as an assistant manager at The Jazz Gallery in NYC. This was a great way for me to meet/hear musicians while still getting paid. I was fortunate to be a TA at City College for four of my five semesters as a grad student. I taught Jazz Rep III and IV (very similar to UNT's improv III and IV classes) under Steve Wilson.

What advice would you have for a current UNT student who is preparing to move to NYC? Try to form relationships with people who are already established in NYC, and visit the city as much as possible before moving. Probably the greatest thing I did while at North Texas to prepare me to move to NYC was sublet in Brooklyn most summers. I would come up for 1-3 months at a time, study with one or two people while visiting, and go to sessions/hangs/gigs every night. The biggest thing to be aware of when moving to NYC is that you must be patient. Even if you are a "first call" at North Texas, when you move to NYC you will be surrounded by everyone else who was a "first call" in their hometown, too. Be prepared to expand your musical horizons beyond what you already know, and take ANY gig you can. One of the best paying gigs I have is being the first call sub for a German polka/top 40 band!

Colin Hinton with Facehugger:

Colin Hinton with Ingrid Laubrock and Joe Hertenstein:

 

Tell me about your work: Matt Wigton

Tell me about your work is a new interview series published by the Division of Jazz Studies at UNT. We're interested in knowing more about the work life of our alumni, what role their musical education plays in the work they do, and what their musical lives are like now. Knowing this will give current students a broader sense of the career paths they could follow, and could suggest ways to prepare for them while they are still studying at UNT.

John Murphy


Matt Wigton

B.M. in Jazz Studies, 2003

You can hear Matt's music at app.soundstripe.com/artists/46.

Matt Wigton playing electric bass in a recording studio

What sort of work do you do?

I am a freelance touring/session bassist. I am also a staff composer/producer for Soundstripe, which is a micro licensing company. Both of these jobs are based out of Nashville, TN.

What led to you doing this sort of work?

I got into touring work as a bassist immediately upon graduating from UNT. I was based in NYC for 10 years and from there toured with indie-rock bands and jazz groups all over Europe, Canada, and Central/South America. Upon moving to Nashville (4 years ago) I landed tours with artists like Engelbert Humperdinck, Christopher Cross, and most recently Jo Dee Messina. The session work definitely picked up when I moved to Nashville as this is one of the things that makes this city what it is. Demos and records are made here all day long in thousands of studios scattered all around the area. As far as my life as a producer is concerned, that began up in NYC when I started ghost writing on TV spots for Yessian which is a large ad agency based out of Detroit. After relocating to Nashville I started working more in the TV/Sync world with a company called Resin8 Music Licensing and from there that led me to the world of micro licensing. I have been with Soundstripe since its inception and currently work from my home studio for them.

How did you prepare for it?

Not sure that I actually prepared for this. I just dove right in and absorbed and observed everything I could along the way. 20 years later here I am.

What's a typical day like?

Changes constantly. I could be in my home studio producing music starting around 8am and going to 5 or 6pm or I could be on a session recording on someone’s record which usually gets going around 10am and goes until around 6 or 7. I usually can’t remember what day of the week it is or where I am when I am touring. Schedules are all over the place.

What do you find most rewarding about it?

I love what I do and the fact that I get to make music for a living.

What do you find most challenging about it?

Inconsistencies with schedule, money, and dealing with challenging personalities in the various bands.

What role, if any, did your musical education at UNT play in preparing for this work?

I had not been playing bass very long before I entered in at UNT. I had read a couple of theory books and listened to some records but didn’t know my a## from my head. UNT definitely helped give me a solid set of tools to help build my vocabulary on the instrument and to learn the history of the music.

What might you have done differently during your time at UNT if you knew you would be doing this sort of work now?

Shadow an engineer and producer at a local studio every chance I could.

What else would you like readers to know about your work?

In addition to being a musician and producer, I am an avid gardener and supply produce from my garden to a fellow music producer here in Nashville who also happens to be a fantastic chef. He runs a Chinese comfort food 5 course dinner out of his house (2 seatings, once a month). The name of it is Angelhouse.

What other jobs have you had since leaving UNT?

When I moved to NYC I had all sorts of day jobs to help pay the rent, including handing out flyers, working for a contractor painting and demoing apartments, working for a catering company, web design, and doing data entry for a real estate company.

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