Mr. Bryan Miller, Music Department Chair
Bryan Miller has served as the Music Department Chair and Director of Bands for the Leyden High Schools since 1994. During his years of leadership, the music faculty size has doubled; student enrollment has increased; and the school/community have enjoyed many successes in band, choir, and orchestra.
Mr. Miller’s education includes earning his undergraduate degree in Music Education from Northern Illinois University, where he attended on scholarship and graduated with Full University Honors. Following NIU, Mr. Miller was awarded a full scholarship and assistantship to the University of Notre Dame, where he served as the Graduate Assistant Director of Bands and earned his Master Degree. In addition to writing drill and arrangements for the Notre Dame Marching and Basketball Bands, he directed the Jazz Lab Band, played lead trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble, and served as a featured trumpet soloist on two Concert Band tours of the United States. His Brass Quintet was also a semi-finalist group in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.
Mr. Miller served as the Music Director for the Illinois Ambassadors of Music honor band, choir, and orchestra for their 2006, 2008, and 2010 European Concert Tours. He has served as a concert band, orchestra, jazz band clinician, adjudicator and conductor for organizations such as The Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, IGSMA, IHSA, IMEA, the University of Illinois’ ISYM Jazz Camp, the Northwest Band Festival, and Huntington College’s Sousa Fest. He has guest conducted the Washington D.C. United States Air Force Concert Band. He has served as guest conductor for the SWIC and Chicagoland Band Festivals, Music Maestro, Please festivals, and a number of local events and organizations. As a trumpet artist, Mr. Miller also had the honor of performing with the brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera at Chicago’s Symphony Center as part of the Arnold Jacobs memorial tribute at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Directors Clinic. He also is a member of the Pete Ellman Big Band, and the Park Avenue Orchestra.
An alumnus of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Miller now serves on its Board of Directors. He was awarded the “Chicago land Outstanding Music Educator Award,”, received the technology/curriculum award from West 40, the Leyden ‘Fern Award’ for Fine Teaching, and the‘Singular Contribution to the Education of Youth Award’ from the University of Notre Dame. In addition to teaching at Leyden, he serves on the Music Education faculty for Elmhurst College. He has taught advanced conducting techniques for North Central College, trumpet studio and graduate brass methodology courses for VanderCookMusical College.
As an Officer in the United States Air Force and Illinois Air National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Miller also proudly serves his country as the Commander and Conductor of the 566th Air Force Band, The Air National GuardBand of the Midwest. This organization has performed for the President, the Governor’s inauguration ceremony, The Today Show, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the Tuskeegee Airmen, memorial services for President Ronald Reagan, our nation’s troops, The Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference, and numerous high profile military and civilian events throughout the world! During the summer of 2010, Lieutenant Colonel Miller deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates as the Commander of the United States Air Force Central Command Band, performing for US and coalition troops.
The truth is that my ‘biography’ is not really all that important…I just want for our students and parents to know that I try very hard to produce quality work, and that I am dedicated to being a quality music educator for our Leyden students.
Ms. Abby Kott, Assistant Director of Bands
Abby Kott has been on faculty for the band department at the Leyden High Schools since 2018. Her responsibilities have included directing the East & West Concert Band, East Jazz Band, Drum Club, Basketball Band, and co-teaching the Marching Band, Symphonic Band, and Orchestra.
At Leyden, Ms. Kott has made a difference by nearly doubling the East jazz program, implementing a new district-wide performance assessment system within the music department, and designing curriculum for a new course offering in 2020 at Leyden: Digital Music Production. Her bands have received superior ratings at IHSA Organizational Contest.
In the spring of 2018, she earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, attending on a full four-year academic scholarship and graduating with highest honors as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. At Illinois, Ms. Kott received many awards and scholarships for her musical and academic success. She is a recipient of the coveted Presser Scholar Award, the Thomas J. Smith Scholarship, Woodwind Division Achievement Award, the Guy M. Duker Symphonic Band Award, the G. Jean Sutter Music Education Scholarship, and the “Outstanding Graduating Senior in Instrumental Music Education” Award. As a student of Debra Richtmeyer, she performed regularly in the saxophone section of the UI Wind Symphony, the premiere ensemble of the University of Illinois band program. Ms. Kott also had the privilege of serving as the alto saxophonist of the Graduate Quartet. She has performed in masterclasses given by the 4 & 4 Saxophone Quartet and Jean-Michele Goury.
Ms. Kott is currently pursuing her master’s degree in music education from the American Band College through Central Washington University. She currently performs in the alto saxophone section of the Naperville Winds. Professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) & the National Band Association (NBA). Ms. Kott currently resides in Chicago, IL.
We are very proud of the additional staff we have developed and assembled to work with our Marching Band students. Our Drum Line, Percussion Ensemble, Color Guard, and Marching/Sectional staff consistently includes alumni from our program who possess a wealth of positive Leyden Band-related experience to draw upon and share with the students. In addition to being content “experts” who can provide a quality model for their specific section in our organization, these additional instructional staff members lower our student-to teacher ratios, benefiting individual student understanding and achievement. As you will discover this summer, each of our Marching Band Alumni Staff is also dedicated, friendly, and a positive role model.
In addition to our instructional staff, we have an outstanding group of Band Parents who are a critical part of our Marching Band team. They provide assistance for our students and directors in many ways, greatly enriching the excellence of our organization and quality of our students’ experience. All parents are welcome and invited to get involved. A tradition of parental involvement is one of the great strengths of our program.