Sue Miller – Cuban Flute Improviser, Writer & Academic



My new book

Sue Miller is Reader in Music at Leeds Beckett University and also bandleader of Charanga del Norte.  Sue obtained a PhD in Cuban flute improvisation in charanga performance at the University of Leeds in 2011 having studied previously at the Universities of Leeds and York.  After six years teaching on the BA in Popular and World Music at Leeds University Sue became Senior Lecturer in Music and Course leader for the BA in Popular Music at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge in 2012 before taking up a senior lecturing post in music at Leeds Beckett University in 2015 teaching on the BA in  Performance and Production and the MA in Popular Music and Culture.  A qualified teacher (PGCE) since 1990, Sue is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Specialising in improvisation, Cuban music and music analysis, Sue’s first book Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation was published by Scarecrow Press in 2014. Her forthcoming book for the University Press of Mississippi looks at Latin music in New York. PhD supervisions are undertaken within the fields of music performance, (ethno)musicology, music analysis and popular music studies.

Reviews of Cuban Flute Style:

‘[F]or all the academic and anthropological research work done in the past 60+ years in the Latin Music field, very few have been successful in conveying the essence of their subject matter. Sue Miller’s remarkable book does not only succeed in its comprehensive approach to introduce and educate both performing flutists and academicians to this wonderful music and its history, she captivates the reader through her passion, love and commitment to the genre. . . .Sue Miller deserves the highest praise for a work of the highest caliber. . . .I declare that Cuban Flute Style is brilliant and without precedent. The research work is thorough and meticulous. The historical narrative of the flute styles and its protagonists is comprehensive, consistent and most importantly, respectful of the music’s tradition and filled with palpable affection. Her improvisation transcriptions and music samples from a wide selection of recordings (most of them commercially released) are accurate and accessible. . . .Sue Miller has created a work that celebrates and guarantees the perpetuation of Charanga and its Cuban Flute Style Tradition for many generations to come. Its historical, cultural, and pedagogical value cannot be overstated.’

Nestor Torres (ARSC Journal) 2015

Sue Miller’s monograph on Cuban flute style will be of interest to ethnomusicologists and flautists alike. It is a clearly written, highly musical book that serves as both a guide to performance practice and an academic text. Miller brings together performance as a research technique, interviews with musicians, lessons with renowned flautists, and detailed and extensive transcription and analysis of recordings to create a ‘musical archaeology’ (246) of creative processes, interpretation and improvisation in Cuban charanga flute performance. 

Dr Hettie Malcomson

British Forum for Ethnomusicology Journal 2015

Let me begin by saying that Sue Miller’s Cuban Flute Style is an extraordinarily comprehensive oeuvre, with respect to both the history and the technique of charanga flute playing.  In addition, her book is realized with a broad as well as a thoughtful understanding of the entire tradition on which this style of music is based.

Bill McBirnie

Brish Flute Society Journal PAN 2014.

Other publications include articles written on popular music education for Bloomsbury Press (2015), on Latin music performance (Journal of European Popular Culture) and articles written for the British Flute Society journal on the Cuban charanga and the Cuban flute style of improvisation, including interviews with veteran Cuban flute players such as Richard Egües, Polo Tamayo and Melquiades Fundora (December 2000, 2001, March 2003  and June 2008 editions). Her next book Improvising Sabor: Cuban Dance Music in New York  is due for publication in 2021 by the University Press of Mississippi. Sue has also reviewed books and CDs for the journals Cultural Politics (July 2007) and The World of Music (2006). Articles on ‘Cuban Son’ and ‘Música Guajira’ were published by Bloomsbury Press  in 2014 in The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (EPMOW): Part 3 Genres (Caribbean and Latin American genres).

Previously Sue Miller completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Jazz, Contemporary and Popular Music at Leeds College of Music in 1994 where she studied classical flute with Lis Parry, jazz improvisation with Bill Kinghorn, Indian music with Dharambir Singh and jazz piano with Nikki Iles. Inspired by Orquesta Aragón’s flute player Richard Egües, Sue set up the UK’s only full charanga orquesta ‘Charanga del Norte’ in 1998 and has performed with the band across the UK, including several Arts Council of England UK tours and performances at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, London’s Barbican Centre, Paradise Gardens and the Lakes Alive Festival. In April 2000 and 2001 Sue went to Cuba to study with her idol, Richard Egües in Havana and in 2006, 2007 and 2009  returned to Havana to further her research and to perform with veteran charanga musicians there. Currently researching Cuban music in the USA Sue has guested with Charanga Soleil, Charansalsa and Orquesta Broadway in New York. Charanga del Norte continue to perform and recent performances  include The Big Weekend in Cambridge, Seven Arts, Leeds and the Cambridge Jazz Festival.

An experienced professional arranger Sue has written  large-scale arrangements and compositions for Charanga del Norte and for the Cuban Music Big Band line-up.

Skills and Expertise

Band Direction
Over 20 years experience directing Charanga del Norte and Cuban Music Big Bands.

Translation from French and Spanish to English on Cuban music related topics (MA in Applied Translation completed at Leeds University in 2003).

Special Study Programmes
Cuban music modules and lectures delivered to suit requirements with the option of including a Charanga del Norte performance and/or student performances following a series of workshops. Available for radio and TV documentaries and multimedia projects.

Sue has  written  arrangements for Charanga, Son and Cuban music big band line-ups  covering a variety of styles including danzón, son, mambo, guajira, chachachá, pachanga, bugalu and big band salsa.

Cuban Music Educational Resources

Sue Miller has built up a body of work on Cuban music since 1997. Educational packs consist of annotated transcriptions, arrangements for Cuban music big band, son band, charanga orquesta, trombanga and salsa groups and worksheets. Sue has written course materials on various aspects of Cuban music which have been used in her educational work as a freelance musician since 1997. In addition to Latin music courses and summers schools in the UK and Havana, Sue has run pre-concert talks and workshops as part of her professional band Charanga del Norte’s performance engagements (e.g. at Instituto Cervantes, Cambridge Jazz Festival and for Harrogate International Festival ). She has  taught her bespoke Cuban music courses at Yorkshire College of Music, the University of Leeds, Leeds College of Music, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge and Leeds Beckett University. She has also run specialist workshops for York University performance students and for Humberside Youth Music. Listed below is a selection of her arrangements for Latin band (parts for all brass, woodwind, strings, piano, bass, guitar, tres, timbales, congas, güiro, vocals):

RR con RR Arrangements by Sue Miller
for Cuban Music Big Band

1. Quiereme Besame
2. Maria Cristina
3. Bodeguero
4. Lagrimas Negras
5. Bodas de Oro
6. Mi Son Mi Son
7. Dos Gardenias
8. Esa es la del Solar/Mandinga


9.   Manicero
10. Las Alturas de Simpson
11. El Cuarto de Tula
12. Violin Pachanguero
13. Los Tamalitos de Olga
14. A Gozar con mi Combo
15. Guaguanco Flamenco
16. Cactus Mambo


17. El Reloj
18. Idilio
19. Mambo #5
20. Asi es la Humanidad
21. Camina y Prende el Fogon


Score of El Manicero (Son)
Set of parts for Manicero
Score for Las Alturas de Simpson (Danzón)
Set of Parts for Las Alturas de Simpson
Score for Violin Pachanguero
Set of Parts for Violin Pachanguero (Son Montuno)
Score for Rico Vacilon (Chachachá)
Set of Parts for Rico Vacilon
Score for El Cuarto de Tula (Son Montuno)
Set of Parts for El Cuarto de Tula
Recommended Books and DVDs
Recommended Listening
The Clave Concept
Percussion Patterns
Rhythm Section Workout
Yaye Boy
Me Voy Pa’ Moron
Mueve la Cintura
El Panquelero
Mi Tierra Es Asi (in D minor)
Salsa de Carmela

Valentino (composition)

‘La Carmela’  dance suite (compositions)

Veracrucena’, Chan Chan, Oye Como Va, Yolanda, Almendra, Descarga con Te y Biscochos

Sue has completed  numerous arrangements for her professional band Charanga del Norte (flute, violins, viola, cello, piano, bass, timbales, güiro, congas and vocals), many of which have been recorded. More information on these can be found on the recordings page of and at

For her research Sue has transcribed and annotated full scores and solos which are featured in her PhD on creative process in improvisation (2010), her first monograph Cuban flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation (Scarecrow Press 2014) and her second book Improvising Sabor: Afro-Cuban Dance Music in New York (University Press of Mississippi forthcoming 2019/2020).

Academic CV

Provided on request

Performance CV

Available on request