PORT CLINTON — You can take a man out of his music, but you can’t take the music out of the man — even if he walked away on purpose.
When former Port Clinton High School band principal Rodney Miller retired after 34 years leading bands last spring, he planned to refocus his life. He wanted to spend more time with his family, which his busy career had stifled.
When he accepted the position of conductor of orchestras and professor of music education at the University of Heidelberg in Tiffin this summer, he found a way to do both.
Miller took over the job from Elmore native and famed band manager Jon Waters, who accepted a position as assistant professor of sports band instruction and music education at Bowling Green State University. Miller’s position in Heidelberg is considered “significant part-time,” which gives him the freedom to continue enjoying his family like never before.
Miller let prayer, his family lead him to his new position
“I hadn’t planned on doing this. I’ve been leading bands for 34 years, and it’s really hard to say I’m beside myself,” Miller said. “So when my dear friend, Jon Waters, called me about the job, I talked it over with my family, prayed about it, and talked to people for advice.”
Miller was the Heidelberg band announcer for Waters for five years, so he knew the school, the band, and the students well.
“So I already knew these great people,” he said.
Miller will be leaving his home in Port Clinton to teach just three classes this semester, which will leave him plenty of time to enjoy life with his wife Kathy and their adult children, twins Collin and Ella Miller.
“This schedule allows me to get up at 5:30 a.m. with my wife and cook breakfast and lunch for her,” Miller said. “She is still working, but I will be able to spend more time with her, and that means a lot to me.”
Miller was further drawn to Heidelberg’s position by his family’s connection to the university. Kathy and Ella are Heidelberg graduates who played in the college band.
“I felt a connection to Heidelberg because of my wife and daughter and because I’ve done so much here for five years,” he said.
Miller makes smooth transition to Heidelberg
Miller said Waters continually helps him make a smooth transition to Heidelberg.
“Jon has been such a help to me. We talk almost every day,” Miller said. “It’s important that I continue with what Jon has established here. I’m not here to replace Jon Waters. am here to replace the group director.
For Miller, the role of director is more closely related to the idea of being a guide than to being a manager.
“It’s not my group. It’s the student group. I’ve been telling my students that for 34 years,” he said. “I’m here to be a steward and provide some direction. I have to make decisions, but at the end of the day, what they do on a pitch or on a stage is a product of what they put in. They put their own signature on this band.
Likewise, Miller’s life is a product of what he puts into it, and in this season of life, he wants to take on the director’s mantle a little less and hold his wife’s hand a little more.
“I’ve been asked thousands of times why I took another job, but it’s not something I had to do. It was something I wanted to do, once I had my family’s blessing,” he said. “I had a good run with that, but I wanted more time with Kathy.”
Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty email@example.com.