By Haley Wilson
The Birmingham Times
As a classical music teacher and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with Birmingham Fire and Rescue (BFR), Ahmun Miles said she has found a calling in two areas – both of which allow her to help others.
Miles, classical pianist, is the founder of the Piamistry School of Music, located at WaterMark Place in Bessemer, Alabama. The school introduces students to music through instruction in playing instruments like piano and guitar, in addition to vocal training and music production.
âI feel like this is something God wanted me to do and made me do,â Miles said of teaching music. “I just feel like [God] predestined me to teach music, to heal through music.
Beyond his passion for music, Miles, 27, has always wanted to work in the medical field. So she graduated as a paramedic from Jefferson State Community College (JSCC) and joined the BFR in 2018.
“When I [completed my studies at JSCC], I started working for a private ambulance service, âshe said. âIt just happened. â¦ I also love science and feel like I’m here to really help people. So I just stay true to my goal.
Her daily tasks of saving lives provide a spiritual experience that she is able to relate to her first love, music, Miles said.
“[Performing] is kind of the common thread for me: doing a task, going out, just doing it, âshe said. âSometimes it reminds me of why God chose me to be in people’s lives,â¦ whether medically or musically. [I said to myself], ‘God has given you this talent and this skill set, so you have to go out and do it.’ â¦ I believe that if we do not use the talent that God gives us, he will take it away from us. â¦ Do what you were designed to do, and you fall into your goal.
In 2015, when she was just 21, Miles opened the Piamistry School of Music, where students are greeted with various instruments and musical elements in a space adorned with a plush sofa and plush rug; the school even has a studio. All ages are welcomed into a “non-judgmental” environment, Miles said.
“The goal behind Piamistry is not only to teach students how to play an instrument, but also to teach them to appreciate various styles of music, to strengthen their stage presence and confidence, and to cultivate skills and talents that they can use as young entrepreneurs, âshe said. . âPiamistria teaches children to be patient, it teaches them to explore and use their imaginations. He teaches discipline. If you learn to be disciplined on the piano,â¦ maybe you will be disciplined in math or science. You will have a different respect and approach to other subjects at school.
The school name is made up of two parts: the first three letters “pia” come from the word “piano” and “mistry” come from “chemistry,” said Miles.
“It represents a strong bond and a passion for music,” she added.
Music therapy helps a lot, Miles said, explaining that âpeople go through depression, children have depression, some people have a lot of things to do at home and they have no other outlet. Piamistry provides this outlet.
An ear for music
Although she is not yet 30 years old, Miles has put together an impressive resume. She studied with Young Musical Geniuses from Birmingham; became a member of the Birmingham Music Teachers Association and the National Federated Music Club, receiving the Gold Cup three times and the Silver Cup twice from the latter; studied music theory and performance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); and in 2018, was named an educational partner by prominent piano maker Steinway and Sons. Even with all of her accomplishments, Miles believes her true calling is the work she does with Piamistry.
Miles, who has a younger sister and two older brothers, was born in Birmingham in 1994 and raised in Bessemer. She attended Jonesboro Elementary School and Davis Middle School. She attended Midfield High School for her freshman and sophomore years, and eventually moved on to Alabama Homeschool Academy for her junior and senior years.
âIn grades 9 and 10, I had low self-esteem,â Miles said. âThe transition to homeschooling was very beneficial for me because I was able to preserve myself. I was more motivated to do my homework, make my own schedule and have more free time. It was just a peaceful environment. A lot of people like to say that homeschooled kids grow up oddly and lack social cues, but that wasn’t my experience at all.
Miles’ musical foundation was established when she first touched a piano at the age of 3.
âBack home my parents always played music – classical music, different kinds of music,â she said. âMy older brother started playing the piano before I did. He would sit at the keys and just play, and I would be right next to him listening.
From there, it wasn’t difficult for Miles to pick up on the rhythmic and heartwarming melodies his brother would utter. Eventually, she and her brother began playing side by side in their home church, the Community Privative Baptist Church in Birmingham, which reinforced her love for music, especially classical music.
” I will say that [classical music] is my first love and my first passion, âsaid Miles. âThere’s just something about it, the technicality of it. â¦ Wanting to be able to play what I heard is what inspired me to start playing.
Miles began piano lessons at the age of 13 to learn to read music and study the art of performance. Shortly after the teenager had mastered her lessons, her mother, Dianne Miles, made a suggestion.
“My mom got an idea and said, ‘Hey, instead of playing for yourself why don’t you write and play for others and gain experience ? â¦ So I did it, âMiles said, adding that she had performed as a solo artist at various events and volunteered to play at Children’s of Alabama, UAB, in elementary schools, summer camps and nursing homes. Her performances in primary schools and nursing homes sparked her interest in music therapy and the opening of the Piamistry School of Music.
“I would do this thing that I called Composition of the Heart, [through which] I would create an activity that would serve as a type of music therapy for elementary school students and nursing home residents, âMiles said. “Several residents and older students would be so involved in this.”
Participants were getting emotional as she performed, which fueled her curiosity.
“It must be that happy experience,” she explained. “[Some] people left crying. â¦ Whenever I did this activity, the music brought out emotions for some people who had repressed them. … [I started thinking that] I could do it as a professional musician.
Miles’ popularity increased and people asked her to perform at weddings, banquets, and churches, ultimately asking her if she could teach them how to play an instrument.
âI was like, ‘OK, I never thought of being an instructor per se,’ but I was asked about it,â she said. âLooking back, that was definitely a sign. “
Then Miles decided she wanted to offer personal music lessons, so she and her mom advertised in their neighborhood.
âWe literally took chalk paint, drew a sign that said ‘Piano lessons’ and stuck that sign in the yard,â she said. âMy first student was my neighbor next door, who saw the sign while walking down the street. â¦ It’s just from there that it developed.
After a year in business, Miles celebrated by hosting a performance in his building at WaterMark Place.
“I invited [Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley], pastors, lawyers, doctors, different people I had met along the way, âshe said. âIt kind of motivated me to invite all the important people I could think of that I knewâ¦ and the few students I had. â¦ I spoke to the crowd and presented what I was doing.
It was intimidating at first for Miles, who was 21 at the time.
âI was like, ‘What if they don’t show up? What if they don’t care what I have to say? To them, I am just a child. I was wrong. Everyone showed up, âsaid Miles.
The Piamistry School of Music is located at 4500 Katies Way at WaterMark Place in Bessemer, Alabama. Virtual and in-person lessons are available. For programming or additional information, visit piamistry.com, E-mail [email protected], or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @piamistry.