By Michael Daniel
An Industry Leader In Guitar Lessons Since 1991.
Centrally located. Serving Arcadia, Ahwatukee, Chandler, East Valley, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.
Background And Education
Teacher And Owner
I LOVE music, and I have a burning passion for it. I've been a musician in Minneapolis, MN and Phoenix, AZ since 1983. During that time, I've collected over 20,000 songs, played in numerous bands with over 1000 musicians, and attended over 150 major concerts. I've been enlightened by meeting many famous musicians. My continuing love of, and curiosity for music led me to seriously study voice starting in 1991, the bass starting in 1993, and production and engineering starting in 1992. I've been writing my own music since 1990. Since 1997 I've been blessed to be a successful, full-time musician. My diverse experiences in the music industry allow me to help students in their total musical development. These experiences include being a record producer, a college radio DJ, a college radio promoter, a commercial radio intern, and a marketing rep for a record label.
I've found that my business background also helps my clients develop their career potential. I earned a B.S. in business from Arizona State University (with an 'A' average). I've participated in numerous music business seminars, and completed college courses relating to the music business. I've also read every music business book I could find. My song writing skills have been honed through membership in the National Academy of Songwriters. This knowledge I've also shared through teaching song-writing seminars. My network of connections in the music business is extensive.
I believe I am one of the most successful, and most helpful, vocal and guitar instructors in the United States. I've taught pop, rock, blues, hard rock, alternative, punk, emo, country, Latin and avant-garde styles. In total, I've given over 25,000 music lessons. Also, I've transcribed and notated over 4,000 songs for vocal and guitar over the years. In 2000 I was offered a music teaching position at Arizona State University that I had to decline because of other commitments.
My earliest musical experience was learning guitar at age 14. There was always a guitar under my bed as a kid, as my mother and sister had both tried to learn. My Mom and Dad were in school band, but I would not describe them as musicians. I am not a prodigy. By age 14 I was into bands like AC/DC, Rush, Van Halen, Scorpions and Judas Priest. A few friends signed up for a group guitar class at local music store, and I decided to join them. The instructor was a Musicians Institute graduate and a good guitarist, but group lessons are not the way to learn. The instructor simply can't give the individual attention needed. I remember working my way through a method book the instructor had us buy (by a famous method book author). I got to the end and thought, "O.K. am I good now?" I had learned a few things but I was far from good. In fact, I couldn't play any song from beginning to end.
I started private guitar lessons a few years later with Berklee College of music graduate Paul Kreuger. He had studied with Berklee guitar department chair William Leavitt. He was primarily a (fine) jazz guitarist, but I learned much of the fundamentals of guitar from him. He encouraged me to tryout as a guitarist in the school jazz band. I did play in that band for a year and played all sorts of jazz from Count Basie to Spyro Gyra. That was a tremendous learning experience (no distortion was allowed). I continued to jam with as many musicians as I could find in my suburban Minnesota environment.
Early in college I studied guitar privately with Musicians Institute graduate Mark Thompson. He is known for teaching George Lynch, guitarist for Dokken. For those unfamiliar with him, he won the best guitarist in the 1987 'Guitar for the Practicing Musician' magazine readers poll. From Mark I learned advanced technique, ear training and classical composition. At that point I felt I could play anything on the guitar and started teaching privately. I kept jamming with musicians as I could find them. This was the Tempe music scene of the early 1990's, and some of them went on to sign with record labels in bands like The Refreshments, The Gin Blossoms, Dead Hot Workshop and One. During this time I also worked at college radio and commercial radio as a Disk Jockey and in promotions. That was a great experience, as it taught me to see music from an entirely different perspective.
At that point I sought to diversify my skills by learning to sing. I was far from being a natural singer growing up. I could have been voted 'least likely to be a singer' in high school. However, I was tremendously inspired by Bono of U2 so I gave it a try. I initially studied in class voice at A.S.U. The instructor, Beth Reeves, was classically trained and offered a general idea of what singing was about. Again, I now know group lessons are not the way to learn. I was getting better, but was far from good.
Some of you may want an instructor with a music degree, and wonder why I did not major in music. Like many 19 year olds, I did not know what I wanted to do. I had visited the major music conservatories, and determined that it was not for me. The institutional study of guitar is mostly classical and jazz based and that was not where my interest lied. I was also very advanced by that point. My instructors, who had gone to conservatories, also strongly suggested that was not necessary for me. I had already learned enough at that point that a conservatory would have been not very helpful. I also had very bad back problems that severely hampered my playing and made it impossible to play live. So becoming a professional musician seemed nearly impossible. By the time I turned 21, I had decided to continue to medical school, so music took a back seat for a while.
Fast forward to post-graduation: I was really tired of school and really missing music. At age 15 I was a passenger in a horrible head-on-collision car accident- a multi-car pileup with a fatality. I very easily could have died in an instant. This got me thinking over time that life is just too short and uncertain to not do something that you love for a living. I was starting to understand what it meant to live with some passion. I had seen a family member have some success in the entertainment field. So making it in music did not seem as impossible as it once did. By this time my back was feeling much better, and I decided to give music a try. I worked customer service jobs by day (an experience also beneficial in teaching), and taught guitar at night. I obtained a 4-track cassette recorder, and started to work on some demos. I also learned bass guitar during that time.
During the next few years I played with hundreds of musicians. I could never find any really good singers or really good songwriters. That experience led me to the realization that I needed to become much better as a singer and writer. I realized I had severely underestimated my potential at both.
I started a rigorous self-study of both writing and singing. This led to taking singing lessons from numerous voice coaches in Phoenix, and ultimately in Los Angeles. One of these was Seth Riggs, founder of Speech Level Singing International. He was widely known as the biggest voice coach in Los Angeles. He had also taught Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, James Ingram, Janet Jackson and Stevie Wonder, among others. Seth is a franchiser of his methods, and I want to make clear that I am not endorsed by him (a certified speech-level instructor). However, I can teach you everything that a certified speech level instructor can, and much more. I also studied in Los Angeles with Elizabeth Sabine. She is known for teaching many of the metal singers of the 1980's. Some of her clients include Axl Rose, Megadeth, the Go Go's, the Bangles, Uriah Heap, Jimmy Barnes and Paula Abdul. She also taught voice at the Strasberg acting institute in Los Angeles. I also gained much vocal technique from the teachings of Jeannie Deva. She previously had helped launch the vocal department of the Berklee College of Music.
So I was getting pretty good at singing and writing at this point, but was not satisfied with the results. About this time I worked as a promoter for a local indie record label, Excel Records. One of the label owners was Gary Strausbaugh. He is a long-time record producer who has worked with artists like Richie Havens and AC/DC. It was an education to see how he thought about music and production. That led to several years of intensely studying record production. During this time I started producing demos for local artists. I was able to meet and hang out with Daniel Lanois- one of my musical heroes. That helped inspire me to me to reach higher as a producer. This lead to an entirely new level of understanding of guitar, voice and bass performance- what I believe is a mastery of music. But it took me a long time.
I hope I can help each of my clients to reach their full potential, and do so quickly. I have a strong desire to help others avoid the pitfalls and roadblocks that slowed me along the way. I hope everyone can enjoy listening to, playing or writing music as deeply as I do.