Dan Starr [danstarr]
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
I teach keyboard and piano to adult and teenaged students. This teaching is both live in my hometown and extensively on the Internet. There, I have two websites, two blogs, two Facebook groups, some new but others over 10 years old. Additionally, I write and market piano instruction ebooks on topics of interest to adult students of the piano, digital piano, and keyboard.
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
I run a music production corporation begun by myself: The Dan Starr Organization, Inc. My group has produced 4 CDs of my own compositions, the instructional materials I mentioned (5 ebooks at this writing, with 5 more in various stages of completion) plus piano instructional services both live and online.
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
I don't participate in competitions, as the only mark of success in the field of public performance and piano instruction is the fact of long term success in those actions. I've made a full time living (and a good one at that) for 20+ years in this highly competitive field.
Please list discography in which you have participated.
2001: "Passage to Home" CD - original piano compositions
2002: "I Will Live Free" CD - Songs celebrating the Bill of Rights, a commissioned work
2006: "Distant Lands" Folk song oriented compositions on keyboard
2008: "Hope and Change" (the title tune, written in 2001) pop/rock original songs with a positive message
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
I was raised in a household that sung, danced, and played the music from many decades. I loved music from childhood, but didn't think of making it myself until I heard keyboards played in early 60's rock. That settled it. I wanted to be a musician in my teens, and although I got diverted into Public Relations and marketing for years, I eventually returned to my root starting in 1987 and built a life around making and teaching others to make music.
What was your musical education?
Like so many of the great composers and great pop musicians, I received excellent private instruction from a number of teachers. They taught me how to continue to learn about my subject which I do every week.
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
I returned to Tucson as a career change in 1985. I went to work for a big corporation to bring in money, but had the idea of making it as a piano and keyboard instructor. When the time was right, 1987, I quit my corporate job and started teaching and performing. I've made an excellent full time occupation of it ever since.
What is your creative process?
The question is poorly worded, as it assumes there is just one. There are many.
When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
I'm definitely a morning person, which is when I'm answering these profile questions.
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
Yes, and they are usually excellent in their power due to simplicity.
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
Finished is just deciding it's "good enough." Tweaking goes on endless. In fact, I often caution my aspiring professionals that they will need to recognize that perfection is unobtainable and there is time to decide, "Done for now."
How did you discover your creative territory? How would you describe it?
What the heck is "creative territory?" In 40+ years of performing and 20+ years of teaching I have never encountered this word. Obviously, this website made it up.
What part of your job is your least favourite?
Trying to give live lessons to those who have had bad experiences with education and thus have a negative attitude toward me as a teacher. For men, this negativity surfaces as anger, for women it's tears and grief.
How often do you practice?
Piano and keyboard: several times a week
Writing: Almost daily
Teaching: 3 days per week live, as often as needed online.
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
A good kind of nervous. I have learned that nervous energy can be channeled into a better level of performance so I've come to depend on my nervousness.
Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
The Moody Blues, Kansas, Jackson Browne
List three songs that are key to your life.
Kansas: "The Wall"
Moody Blues: "One Step into the Light"
Jackson Browne: "For a Dancer"
What should be done to stop piracy?
Nothing. Real musicians want as much exposure as possible. It's only the businessmen that profit from musical creativity that dislike piracy and consider it a threat.
What type of music do you detest?
Anything which promotes the negative side of human nature. This promotion is found in the lyrics.
What time did you get up this morning?
How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
Internet marketing. I have no interest in record companies and reps.
What other things have you done to make a living?
Public Relations and marketing
Various "blue collar" work, including mining, inventory control, and digging ditches.
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
No. I don't think poverty is virtue or that this form of "paying one's dues" makes me a better musician or person.
Who would you play with, without a doubt?
The Moody Blues, specifically Justin Hayward or their first keyboardist Mike Pinder.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
A line from Mike Pinder, keyboardist for the Moody Blues in the 60's:
"Find the mission of your life and start to be."
Purpose is senior to technique and talent, and persistence in that purpose is senior to all.
Tucson, Arizona, USA