Tim Sterner Miller Headshot

Tim Sterner Miller

  • Teaching Faculty III, Musicology & Ethnomusicology
  • Area Head, Music History & Literature
  • Director, Early Music Ensemble


PhD & MA, Musicology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
MM, History of Musical Instruments, University of South Dakota
BM, Music Theory/Composition, University of Delaware


Tim Sterner Miller is a musicologist specializing in the study of musical instruments, instrumentalists, and instrument-centered communities. His scholarship on the pedal steel guitar and its makers and players has been published in the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music and the Oxford Handbook of Country Music (Oxford University Press, 2017). He has presented his research at conferences of the Society for American Music, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the American Musical Instruments Society. His ongoing research explores the reciprocal relationships between instrument design and construction and the processes of musical learning, improvisation, and community building, and encompasses topics in the fields of popular music, American vernacular and art music, early music, and world musics.

At UWM, Dr. Sterner Miller teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Renaissance and Early Modern music, 20th and 21st century art music, popular music and world musics. In all of his courses, students learn to understand musical activities and the discourses that surround them as reflections of the historical, cultural, and political contexts that they inhabit. He also directs the UWM Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that allows students to explore instruments and repertories from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century. A strong advocate for bringing music history to the public, he serves on the board of directors for Milwaukee’s Early Music Now and provides program notes and talks for Milwaukee artists such as the Fine Arts Quartet and the Florentine Opera Company.

Sterner Miller earned his MA and PhD in musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill following an MM in the History of Musical Instruments from the University of South Dakota, where he studied and worked in the collections of the National Music Museum. As a musician, he has studied and performed on numerous instruments in a variety of traditions including symphonic music, jazz, and pop on acoustic and electric bass; Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music on lute, theorbo, viol, and other plucked and bowed strings; Hindustani sitar and tabla; and vernacular U.S. styles of mandolin, banjo, and steel guitar.