Preaching to the Choir, Old Student Becomes New Teacher

Preaching to the Choir, Old Student Becomes New Teacher

ROLE REVERSAL: Current choir teacher Justin Miller ‘01 as student speaks with Alice Lipson, his choir teacher, who retired last year after teaching at Staples for over 22 years. | Photo from "The Stapelite"

With the commencement of the new school year, chorus students welcomed the new choir teacher, Justin Miller.

Miller has taken over for the recently retired Alice Lipson.

Because Miller is the first new choir teacher at Staples in over 20 years, he has a lot to live up to.

“Alice Lipson was a wonderful teacher and a wonderful director,” said Miller. “I want to, at minimum, maintain the same level of excellence.”

Miller grew up in Westport (and was taught by Ms. Lipson) while learning the piano and violin. His father sang in barbershop quartets, introducing Miller to a singing style that would later become a major part of his life. “When I was first born,” he said, “they would often rehearse with me being held by my dad singing bass in my ear.”

He then moved to Los Angeles, Calif., to attend Chapman University, where he earned his degrees in music education and conducting.

At Chapman, Miller and his peers founded the Westminster Chorus, a barbershop group for young men, which Miller began directing in 2008.

While directed by Miller, the Westminster Chorus won many prestigious titles, including Choir of the World at the 2009 International Eisteddfod, an annual music festival in Llangollen, Wales.

Miller now joins the Staples faculty dermined to continue teaching.

He hopes to bring more awareness to the community about the Staples choir, as well as to recruit more boys.

Miller believes the multitude of effeminate male pop singers today are discouraging many boys from singing, and he wishes to change that at Staples.

Choir students, though still transitioning into a new school year, are excited about the changes Miller hopes to bring to the choir.

“I think he’s bringing a really unique perspective on singing to our choir,” said Charlotte Smith ’12, a member of the choir and Orphenians.

“I also love that he’s making us listen to music and think about how much we like it, in addition to actually singing it.”

Though Lipson will be missed, the choirs hope that Miller will prove to be an admirable successor.