We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Daniel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from Dallas and was fortunate to have a family that was entrenched in the Arts. My mother was a pianist/educator and my dad a physician who cultivated in me, an appreciation of classical music. With season tickets to the symphony and opera as well as chamber concerts, live music was a constant in our family. When I first heard Eliot Fisk (I would be one of his students a decade later) at the Majestic Theatre when I was 12, I knew that I wanted to study classical guitar. That was the beginning of the direct path, with classical guitar as the vehicle, for much of my professional life. This includes my role in higher education (I have been on the faculty of Texas A&M Commerce, Dallas Baptist University and other institutions) as well as my small business of Andrew Daniel Piano Tuning.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There are two major components to my work: First I am a professor of music and second, a piano tuner/technician. I enjoy the tuning work and this year I surpassed 1,000 clients. I tune for universities, school districts, piano teachers, performance venues and 100s of private clients. I am grateful for this work; it is rewarding and lucrative. Under the professor umbrella, I teach Music Theory and all course related to this field, as well as applied guitar and the Fine Arts class that is part of the core curriculum. My instrument is classical guitar. The classical guitar world is quite small. It is a community that is accessible and pervasively non-hierarchical. What I mean by this is that you can connect with any member of this community, even the most high profile guitarists in the world. It a community of sharing ideas without a hegemonic/sub-altern bias. I am proud to be part of this group of musicians. As such, I am able to learn from this diverse group which, in turn, has enhanced my musicianship continually over the years (40+ with the guitar). My career path was arduous; perseverance was the key, especially in the early years right after I completed my university studies. My dad was critical at that point in my journey; he enabled me to persevere. The first signs of career stability came only after several years of struggle. At that point I was living on a dollar-a-day in Europe, playing for donations mostly. After securing an agent, the path became a bit more predictable and secure. I always felt a calling to teach, however, the over-arching condition from my perspective, is that I had to believe that I had something of value to offer. After a decade of touring, I had a monumental life changing event and the course I was on was redirected. I moved back to the States and began my career in higher education. During my tenure in higher education I have been able to publish several works related to the courses I teach. 1) Whither Music: A Guide Manual to Unpack the Ultimate Metaphor, 2) Plenary Guitar: Methods and Materials, 3) Seriatim (Alpha-Beta): A Goal Realization Journal and 4) Nineteen Essays: Late-Night Musings on Musicological Subjects. I have served in this capacity for 20 years now, and it is only recently that I sense another change of direction towards performance once again. It has been twenty years since I released my last recording (El Dacameron Negro) and almost thirty since I released my first album (La Ultima Cancion). I believe there will be a good balance between the education side of my work and the reemergence of my contribution to the classical guitar performing world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the Dallas Theatre scene. There are so many great production companies here. From Kalita Humphrey’s Theatre (my personal favorite), Under Main, Wyly…Also there are several places to hear jazz. We would need to check out The balcony Club and the Scat Jazz Lounge in Fort Worth. When the weather is nice, hiking in Cleburne State park is phenomenal and because I have a couple of kayaks, we would need to take a boat trip around Lake Lavon.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The single most influential person in my story is my dad. He has supported me unconditionally. There are so many levels to that kind of support. Life is but a series of puzzles that we must navigate and negotiate. Because my dad instilled in me early a self-sense of creativity, I believe this has enabled me to solve some of life’s puzzles and lead a modestly happy life. I am most proud to that I have been able to continue to observe and create anew these ideals. One example would be the success of my son Andre, a young, high-performing violinist, whose accomplishments can certainly be attributed to my dad’s influence on me, and subsequently on my son, In addition, their relationship continues to thrive and that provides great comfort to me that Andre will also have a productive and fulfilling life having experienced the influence of a great man, his grandfather.