Dan Whitley Music Studio is located in Draper, Utah, at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. We offer private music lessons and performing group classes. Our groups do live shows at various venues. We also offer a professional recording studio for all your recording needs. Dan has authored many method books to help young people learn music.
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Why Dan Teaches Music to Young People the Way He Does
Dan and his wife Bonnie moved from Southern California to Salt Lake City in 1979. Upon arrival, their 6-year-old son, Danny, started having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school, so they took him to an optometrist to get fitted for glasses. The doctor took one look into his eyes and sent them to Primary Children’s Medical Center for X-rays and a scan.
When Dr. Marion Walker looked at the pictures, he called the Whitley family in and told them their son had a mixed glioma brain tumor about the size of an orange. It pushed his retina 1/4 inch out of alignment, making it impossible for him to see the board. They were advised to check him into the hospital the following Monday. Dan was in shock and disbelief and asked why this could be happening to them. Then the doctor said, “Do you remember me, from the California Mission? I married the secretary.” Then, it became much more real, having a trusted friend tell him the severity of Danny’s condition.
The University of Utah Medical Center was at the leading edge of heart surgery with the development of the Jarvic heart. In 1980, when Danny’s brain tumor was diagnosed, they were also leaders in the nation with laser brain surgery, which had just begun. Dr. Walker believed the laser surgery could offer Danny a much higher chance of survival.
Following the operation and the news that Danny had only a year to live, Danny said, “Dad, I want to be a musician just like you. Will you teach me everything you know?” Suddenly Dan became a teacher of children. They called around and found a keyboard player, some guitar players, and a violin player. Danny would be the drummer. They began practicing on Wednesday evenings.
Their first gig was at Danny’s elementary school where he played his first drum solo with his little band. They were called the Foxes and the Hounds. What appeared a short-lived experience, turned out to be seven years and four surgeries. Danny played a 6th grade all-school concert, playing a drum solo with one foot and one hand, singing his favorite song, “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog.” Children knew him as the boy with the red and white cap because he had no hair. Danny passed away in 1987 and his father Dan has continued to teach children his age, between 6 and 13 — the same songs, the same method.
Dan has another son who is a professional drummer and a son who is a manager at a major contact company. Their older two daughters Jill and Julie performed on a Christmas album that Jill composed. They all had the privilege of the doing the first performance of the play, A Christmas Stranger, written by their father Dan, before their brother Danny passed away. It’s been over 20 years since then. What Danny taught his father Dan about children, and the power of music in their lives, makes Dan the teacher he is today. God bless Danny Whitley.