End of an Era

On June 23, 2014, in News, by Magnolia Guitar

Dear Students, Performers & Friends,

As many of you already know, my wife and I are expecting our first child soon and we are both eager to meet the newest member of our ‘band’.

Exciting as this news is, it is bittersweet that I am also announcing that Magnolia Guitar Lessons and Repairs will be CLOSING at its current location in Arlington Virginia. Quite simply, the lease is set to expire and after much deliberation, I have decided not to renew.

It has been great having the studio for lessons and events. Business has improved year over year and I could not be happier with, or prouder of, what my students have achieved. But the fact remains is that I’m curious to see what’s around the next bend in the road.

With closing the studio both Magnolia Guitar and The Musicians Workshop will be taking a sabbatical. This will give me the opportunity to spend time with my growing family, as well as complete my book and pursue my songwriting and performing.

I plan on continuing The Musicians Workshop when I arrange for a new location. So stay updated by joining us on Meetup, Faceboook and Twitter.

The official last day of business will be June 30, 2014.

Thank you so much for entrusting me with your music education. It has been my honor and privilege to accompany you on your journey in performing music. I hope you had as much fun as I did and I’m sure we will meet again. And when we do, we will have new stories to tell and new songs to sing!

Daniel Magnolia
Magnolia Guitar & The Musicians Workshop

Please continue to follow me on these social networks:



The Voice Live Show Top 12 Highlights (Season 6)

On April 22, 2014, in Videos, by Magnolia Guitar

Christina Grimmie (@TheRealGrimmiesings “Dark Horse” (Katy Perry) with a bit of a dub-step breakdown! She’s clearly a performer and could win it for #TeamAdam again this year. 

Kat Perkins (@KatPerkinsMusic) was born to sing Heart’s “Magic Man”. She’ll easily continue to the next round based on this performance alone. She’s found the pocket. Now she just needs to stay in it. #TeamAdam

Kristen Merlin (@kristenmerlin) got a tough break when her mic suddenly went out during her cover of Sugarland’s “Stay”. But she kept her cool and did what any professional performer would have done: she kept singing. That composure should see her into the next round. #TeamShakira

Josh Kaufman (@IAmJoshKaufman) closed the first Live Show with Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and it killed! Josh is #TeamUsher’s not-so-secret weapon. Adam Levine is kicking himself for letting him go in the Battle Rounds!

By contrast, the remaining singers didn’t do poorly. At this stage of the show very talented singers will be cut. Each of them, had you met them out of the context of the show, would be amazed. Being cut from The Voice isn’t a sign you’re not a good singer. It’s a sign you’re good enough to be there to begin with.

Drew’s Lament

On March 25, 2014, in Advice, Gear, by Magnolia Guitar


Drew Braverman (Miles Heizer) and his supportive sister Amber (Mae Whitman) share a sad song as he suffers some heartbreak and teenage angst on NBC’s Parenthood.

Miles is playing the Tacoma Guitars Chief signified by it’s offset sound hole and unique bridge. Tacomas are part of the Fender Guitar family of instruments.

Drew / Miles is getting a little bit of criticism for the song on the interwebs saying that the song stinks, he’s a terrible songwriter and mumbles too much when he sings. (Click the photo above for the video.)

Let’s first remember that Parenthood is a TV show which contain characters written to fulfill specific roles. Drew Braverman (portrayed by Miles Heizer) is a teenage kid starting college and trying to figure himself out. You’re supposed to write bad but heartfelt breakup songs when you break up.

As a singer, I know how difficult it is to sing in front of someone, especially someone close to you. If you don’t have a lot of experience OR if you don’t have a lot of confidence (like teenagers), then you are going to be apt to mumble. I can’t tell you how many times my grandfather told me to stop mumbling when I was ‘Drew’s’ age. And now that I’m in my 40s? I don’t mumble. Thanks gramps!

Why are people criticizing the song of a character on a TV show that, in all likelihood, he didn’t even write because it’s all fiction! And even if it were REAL, would you in all seriousness intentionally damage a teenage kid’s self confidence to his face by telling him his sad breakup song sucks and he can’t sing? Who would do that in person? If that’s you, then you’re a terrible person and YOU suck.

The Voice Season 6 Highlights

On March 12, 2014, in Reviews, by Magnolia Guitar

The Voice Season 6

I make no excuses about loving The Voice! It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely more encouraging than cut-thoat where the whole show is designed to help more than hurt. The Season 6 Blind Auditions are over and the teams have been made. Before we go into the Battle Rounds, here are a few of highlights of the singers to watch in my opinion.


TEAM ADAM (#TeamAdam)

Adam Levine won Season 5 with insanely talented and genuine Tessanne Chin (@Tessanne) and it looks like he has a strong team again this year. I don’t think he has a single weak link in his entire team. Which is also bad, because that means good singers are going to get cut really quickly. However, win or lose, the real magic of this show is the exposure you get once you’re on it. What you do with it afterwards is up to you.

Austin Ellis is our hometown hero from Annapolis, Maryland! He’s such an amazing singer with a distinctive voice, but he’s also an amazing songwriter in his own right. How do I know? I met him while performing an Open Mic in Washington DC a few years back and have been following his career every since. He’s very encouraging of other artists and I’m excited to see him on national television. Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinGEllis.

Dawn & Hawkes is the indie-folk duo of Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes. They are one of THREE duos this season and they have a great blend. They would fit easily on indie radio and on the festival circuit, but they might find the Battle Rounds challenging if don’t show versatility in their skill set. This doesn’t mean they aren’t PERFECT just the way they are! Follow Dawn and Hawkes on Twitter at @DawnAndHawkes.

Josh Kaufman is the SAT prep tutor supporting his wife and three kids while following his dream of being a performing musician. He’s got the tone, but he also has the HEART. Go get ‘em Josh! Follow Josh on Twitter at @IAmJoshKaufman.

Christina Grimmie is a Carly Rae Jepsen doppelganger who sang “Wrecking Ball” in the Blinds. It was a good choice because it demonstrated her dynamics, but she also knew how to use the stage and play up to the audience. And she had the big moment that works well on the show. She’s a contender. Follow Christina on Twitter at @TheRealGrimmie.

Sam Behymer is the quirky fish-out-of-water type girl singing Lorde’s “Royals” (of course!). It will be interesting to see if she can also do other things and if her breathy performance was a purposeful choice or a crutch she can’t turn off. I hope it’s the former and not the latter. Follow Sam on Twitter at @thegreatsamboni.

Cary Laine is the country belter that’s Adam’s insurance policy that Blake doesn’t win a fourth season. It’s a smart choice on her part, because she won’t get lost on Adam’s Team. Follow Cary on Twitter at @CaryLaine.


TEAM SHAKIRA (#TeamShakira)

Shakira has a very female driven team this season whether by accident or design. The way the show was presented, it made it seem like she was having a hard time winning singers during multiple chair turns. At any rate many of them are ‘belters’ which plays well to the camera, the audience AND the judges. But when you have so many similar voice types, the strategy is tricky. Do you play it safe and let others take the big risks and get knocked out? Or be an outlier and potentially be characterized as too ‘niche’? We’ll see.

Deja Hall performed the well chosen “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. Belied by her 16-years, she sang it impeccably and has a great range. I think the judges were waiting for a bigger moment, but it was strong enough to easily get her on the show. Follow her on Twitter at @dejahallmusic.

Ddendyl taught herself to play the piano and violin and currently lives in Washington DC as a lounge singer. She performed “Stand By Me” for her blind audition. She has a Norah Jones quality to her voice. Some of her elongated long vowel sounds are a little ‘interesting’, but I give everyone the benefit of the doubt in the blinds due to nerves. I’ll be watching closely since she represents DC! Follow her on Twitter at @ddendyl.

Jeremy Briggs plays gigs at night with his band when not working at the California Unemployment Appeals Office. As one of the few men on Shakira’s team he stands a good chance if he gets good song choices in the Battle Rounds because he’s bound to be paired with one of the women. Follow Jeremy on Twitter at @j_briggsmusic.

Also watch Lindsay Pagano (@lindsaypagano) and Clarissa Serna (@ClarissaSerna) because they are also strong contenders.


TEAM USHER (#TeamUsher)

Only time will tell if Usher gets upgraded to full judge after Cee-Lo announced his departure from The Voice this year. What became clear from Usher’s last appearance was that he has the real-deal vocal skills when there isn’t a lot of heavy production covering them up and that’s earned him a lot of respect.

The Brothers Walker (identical twins Coty and Clinton Walker) is one of THREE duos this year and might be one of my FAVORITES based on their Blind Audition alone. Their enthusiasm and their blend are incredible! Of course the challenge with duos is finding moments for each person. The Swon Brothers (Team Blake) successfully did that and they should take note. Their non-R&B uniqueness will take Usher to the end like his keen eye on Michele Chamuel (Team Usher) another of my favorites. Follow the brothers on Twitter at @BrothersWalker.

Madilyn Paige, another 16-year old, performed “Titanium” for biggest audience she’s ever performed for. What she lacked in stage presence she made up for in range. It’s unusual there aren’t more of her musical ‘type’ in the competition this year, but that will work in her favor. Follow Madilyn on Twitter at @MadilynPaige_.

Bria Kelly has a BIG bluesy Janis Joplin-esque voice for just 17-years old. It will play well for the audience and the Battle Rounds. Keep your head on straight girl! Follow Bria on Twitter at @briakelly.


TEAM BLAKE (#TeamBlake)

Over all, Blake also has a very solid team of singers obviously skewing a little bit in the country direction with some good exceptions to add diversity. Here are the stand-outs.

Alaska and Madi are one of THREE duos this year. While they performed a solid version of The Civil War’s “Barton Hollow” their two voices lack a bottom end not uncommon with girl groups. Follow Alaska & Madi on Twitter at @AlaskaandMadi.

Megan Rüger is hard to miss with her rockin’ faux-hawk and performance of Pink’s “Just Like a Pill”. She was a little nasal in the pre-chorus, but she opened up with an amazing full voice in the chorus. If she keeps that in check, she’ll last in the competition with her pitch and charisma. It’s almost like she’s Blake’s insurance policy against Adam! Follow Megan on Twitter at @meganruger.

Ria Eaton performed “Cups (When I’m Gone)” which is actually a update of an old Carter Family Song. She has a great voice, but should watch out on the runs at the end of the phrases and she pushed her full-voice too hard when she should have used her middle voice, but her head voice is fantastic. I’ll just consider it nerves and she’ll work out the kinks with her coach. Follow Ria on Twitter at @riamusic.


Bob Dylan’s SuperBowl Chrysler Ad

On February 3, 2014, in Commercials, by Magnolia Guitar

There are so many things I don’t like about Bob Dylan’s Chrysler SuperBowl ad and they’re not what you think.

First, I love Bob Dylan. Then and now.

Second, I agree with Henry Rollins (of Black Flag) that there is nothing wrong if you are a professional artist getting paid for using your art in advertising. You are a professional who wants to make money at your chosen craft and it is your prerogative and should expect to get paid and paid well. It is not selling out. It is getting what is due.

Third, you might think it contrary that of all people, Bob Dylan is a surprise to be ‘shilling’ for a company during a consumerist orgy that is the SuperBowl. I’m not at all surprised, because this isn’t the first time he’s lent his image and/or music to advertising. Not only does Dylan enjoy being contrary, he deserves the right to change his mind and becoming who ever he wants to be over the course of his lifetime as do we all. For us to expect him to remain the same young, brash Greenwich Village rebel is ridiculous on our part.

Fourth, the ad speaks as though the “car” is uniquely American. I’m pretty sure what is considered the first modern internal combustion automobile is German made by Karl Benz later to become Mercedes-Benz.

Fifth, Detroit’s contribution, though significant, really is due to Henry Ford, not the inventor of the car, but the applicator of the assembly line. Chrylser came later.

Sixth and last, ironically, is the very first line: “Is there anything more American… than America?” That’s just lazy copywriting. It also argues that you can’t import the important things that America is known for which is blatantly false. ALL Americans (except for Native Americans) are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who brought their own talents and ideas from another country. Not only that, but it’s also possible to EXPORT American ingenuity because many American icons have been SOLD to other countries. Brands such as Budweiser, Jeep and… you guessed it Chrysler.

Chrylser is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Italian multinational automaker Fiat. Have you noticed a lot more Fiats around in the last few years?


The Art of Practice by Steve Smith

On January 24, 2014, in Advice, Lessons, by Magnolia Guitar

Steve Smith is a drummer who has worked with hundreds of artists, but is mostly known for being the drummer of the rock band Journey during their peak years of success.

In this video, he talks about the “Art of Practice” and how he approaches it. His advice should sound familiar to any of my students. Though he’s a drummer, you should notice how relatable his experience and advice is to us as guitar players. Practice is a state of mind, of discipline and how you relate to you instrument and music.

If you hate practice, you’re either not in the right frame of mind or not doing it right at all. A professional musician sees practice as challenging.


Happy New Year!

On January 7, 2014, in News, by Magnolia Guitar
(CC BY 2.0) Ewan Topping Some Rights Reserved

(CC BY 2.0) Ewan Topping Some Rights Reserved

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and new year celebration with family, friends and, of course, music!

I finally finished my new lesson schedule and I will be returning calls and emails shortly to fill the new availabilities!

LET’S ROCK 2014!


Happy Holidays!

On December 12, 2013, in News, by Magnolia Guitar

Rockin' SantaMagnolia Guitar offers PERSONALIZED GIFT CERTIFICATES for the person in your life who has always wanted to learn how to play the guitar!

Also note that Magnolia Guitar will be CLOSED between December 22-January 4.

Even though I’ll be on break, you can still order a gift certificate until Dec 23. I will send you a personalized gift certificate that you can print out at home!

The FIRST Musicians Workshop will be Sunday, January 5!


Black Friday Lesson Sale Returns

On November 29, 2013, in News, Special Offers, by Magnolia Guitar


I hope you had a wonderful THANKSGIVING! I’m very thankful for family, friends and the power of music!

I’m also thankful for my students who entrust me with their music education. So to celebrate, the Black Friday Lesson Sale has returned!

Save 20% on current lesson prices for adults and kids from Friday Nov 29 to Sun Dec 1.

Purchase them for yourself or as a gift!

This is a SPECIAL INSIDERS promotion. You will only hear about this promotion by following me on Twitter, Facebook or visiting this website!

Please also note that Magnolia Guitar will be CLOSED during this time, so you MUST purchase your lessons online! Thanks and have a wonderful and safe weekend!


The Nail-Biting Guitar Player

On November 22, 2013, in Advice, by Magnolia Guitar
(cc) License Attribution Some rights reserved by Freddie Peña.

(cc) License Attribution Some rights reserved by Freddie Peña.

The Nail-Biting Guitar Player is an oxymoron. That’s not to say that they don’t exist. Oh, they do. But you can’t be truly successful at playing guitar and getting better at playing guitar if you are a habitual nail-biter.

Now, I admit that I am a ‘Recovering Nail-Biter’. Yup, that’s me. But thankfully I haven’t bitten my nails since March 2009.

As you can imagine, being a habitual nail-biter and playing the guitar are mutually exclusive since you need your fingers to be in good condition to play well. Often when people bite their nails, they bite them down to the nail bed which not only causes them pain, but also causes the nail to recede. Sorry, I know that’s pretty gross. But it’s the truth.

Since I’ve quit, my nails have healed and returned mostly to normal. If you’re a student of mine, you know how fastidious I am about maintaining my nails. But here’s something you might not know.

Once you’ve stopped biting your nails, the damaged nail bed WILL RECOVER, but very slowly. Excruciatingly slowly. But as it turns out, when my nails appear to be a normal short length, they are in reality still much shorter than normal, because of the years of biting them back.

As such, when my nails look like they are at a normal length at a glance, they never exceed past the tips of my fingers. So what does that mean?

It means that if my nails never exceed past the tips of my fingers, then they never get in the way of cleanly fretting notes when playing the guitar. My nails are never in the way. I suspect that this is, at least partially, why my technique is as clean as it is. Well, that and 30-years of playing experience.

I’m not in any way condoning or encouraging you to bite your nails to be a better guitar player. It’s a gross habit rooted in anxiety and stress. And it prevents you from playing guitar well. If you currently bite your nails, and trust me A LOT of people do, you should quit. And probably look into the causes of your stress if you want to be successful.

If you quit biting your nails and join me as a ‘Recovering Nail-Biter’ you will feel better about yourself, feel more self-confident and you will enjoy playing the guitar much more. Now doesn’t that sound like something to work towards?


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