By Michael Daniel, Phoenix, AZ
An Industry Leader in Guitar Lessons Since 1991
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Michael Daniel



The biggest secret that I've discovered in all of my musical experiences is that a solid grasp of fundamentals is critical. My teaching philosophy is to teach students the fundamentals, theories and techniques that they need to become a good guitarist. I believe in providing them the knowledge, understanding and skills to keep improving over time, and reach their full potential. I believe in doing this in the context of the music that they love.

We all have a certain amount of 'musical RAM', or the amount of simultaneous musical events we can process. Shortcomings in fundamentals devastate a guitarist's musical performance and confidence by taxing their 'musical RAM'. Performing the song becomes much less fun. These shortcomings also make it much harder, if not impossible, to focus on the emotional content of the performance. The emotional content is ultimately the most important element of a performance—for both you and the audience.

Do What You Love

I try to keep the learning process as fun as possible. A balance of technique, theory and songs is essential. What works well is to teach a concept and then reinforce it by learning a relevant song a student likes. I have all students list songs they like, and we learn those songs whenever possible.


I believe in having an open dialog with students, being non-intimidating and being open to any question.

The Power Of Paradigms

I take my responsibilities as a music teacher seriously. I’ve repeatedly seen how rewarding music can be to a persons’ life. I am very saddened and disappointed when someone obviously has a desire to play music well, but ruins their chances because of their mental approach. What people think of as ‘talent’ is something that flows from a mental approach to a given activity.

A paradigm is a script, vision or mental framework. A huge part of succeeding on any level in music is understanding and accepting a paradigm that facilitates success. You might hear professional athletes talk about ‘buying into’ what their coach is telling them. What they are buying into is a system, or paradigm. Unfortunately many people have a very corrupt, dysfunctional and self-destructive paradigm towards music. I believe that people in all careers and walks of life that succeed in reaching their goals do so not because they are exceptionally smart or educated, but rather because they understand the paradigm of success. You might think of this as ‘the right stuff’. If you are lucky enough to have a parent who is successful then you can draw heavily on that role model. Ever notice how many current athletes and artists have family members or relatives who have been successful before them? I believe this is not purely because of genetics, but largely because they learned a paradigm of success from the family member.

Many people pick up an instrument very informally. Maybe a friend has an instrument they play around on. As they start to begin to become somewhat decent, they realize they can actually play somewhat decently. Maybe this goes on for 2 years, 10 years or 30 years. At some point they hit a wall. The same attitude of ‘I’ll just hack around and see what noise I can make” is no longer working.

Also, there is a prevailing belief that singing or playing an instrument is simple. There are many examples of successful musicians who are outwardly not very smart or serious towards music. What outsiders do not see is all the hard work that goes into that façade. Part of the reason musicians often have less than stellar personal lives is because they are so focused on music. The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix might not have read music well or gone to music school. But they most certainly were working within a brilliant paradigm. You might not think Mick Jagger and Keith Richards actually practice or work at what they do, but you would be mistaken. In fact, Jagger is one smart guy and actually studied business at the prestigious London School of economics.

There is the popular perception that famous musicians are inherently lazy, and live a life of leisure. Nothing could be further from the truth. If time spent during business travel is included (as it would be in any career), then most stars work more than 100 hours per week. The reason it looks easy for them is because they simple work hard at it- all the time. There is recent theory that states it takes 10,000 hours of practice at something to master it. I don’t believe you don’t need to practice that much to become very good at music- if you buy into the correct paradigm of success. Time usually wasted because it often takes so long to find the right paradigm. What I can give you is the right paradigm.

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Last modified: Saturday, January 20, 2024 4:47 PM