Guitar Innovations: How Sean Daniel Enhances Guitar Education through Theory, Humor, and Tech

In this exclusive interview, the talented guitarist and YouTube creator shares his biggest influences, his love of music technology, and the secrets to his ongoing success.

Sean Daniel is a virtuoso guitarist, a prolific content creator and instructor, and a seriously funny and charismatic dude. By mixing music theory with a fun and engaging teaching style, Sean has empowered countless aspiring guitarists to unlock their musical potential and find their voice on the instrument. He is also in charge of sharing the wonders of AI technology with other musicians who might be a bit more skeptical.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Sean and delving deeper into his musical journey, his teaching philosophy, and the innovative ways he integrates AI tools like Moises into his craft.

Moises: Sean, we’d love to start by asking you about your journey as a musician. How did you first discover your love of playing guitar, and who were your big influences in those days?

Sean Daniel: I started playing guitar as a high school senior. I had this one class where I was like one of four students and there was basically no supervision. One day, someone brought a guitar in and we passed it around. In that first moment of holding it, I was like, “Oh, this is actually something I can play.’ I immediately had this vision of where I could go with it. I ended up buying a guitar from a friend of mine and just really getting into it from there.

I think what was fortuitous was that I was instantly into Hendrix and Zeppelin right off the bat, which I think is the perfect place to start - all riffs and rhythms. And then freshman year of college, I really got into Elliott Smith, he was my guy. I basically taught myself the entirety of his catalog from tabs on the internet in my dorm room.

M: Can you describe when you began taking the leap from playing Elliott Smith songs to writing your own music? What was that process like for you?

SD: You know, it was a very natural process, and actually being a Joker/clown kind of character back then helped a lot. When I had to do a project for school, I would write and record some kind of funny and informative original song instead of writing a paper. This was also around the same time that home recording was readily available to pretty much everybody. So what started as writing joke songs to get out of more dense homework assignments for class projects soon turned into like ‘OK, well, this is something that people seem to be impressed by and maybe I should take it more seriously.’ So it was a natural transition into my angsty college experience, where I was just able to start writing my own songs.

M: In the last several years, your YouTube channel and online guitar courses have amassed a pretty large following. What inspired you to start making tutorial content for aspiring guitarists? And with so many guitar teachers online these days, what do you think has been the key to your success?

SD: Well, it was kind of by necessity and accident at the same time. I had been teaching privately, playing live, and recording music when I first started my YouTube channel. One advantage I had was being self-taught, which I think allowed me to make things really fun for my students. I really just wanted them, above all else, to enjoy the instrument. I think making my lessons engaging and charismatic really resonated with my students and I just took that same energy with me to YouTube. What I wasn’t seeing a lot of online were tutorials that would explain music theory in a competent structured way, but with the kind of humor and charisma I tended to bring to my lessons. I feel like my channel filled that need. Especially when I first started making videos.

M: As someone who does bring so much humor and charm to their videos, who do you count as some of your influences outside of the music world?

SD: Ha, you know, the guy I get most from people is Steve Martin, 100%. And it's funny because I was aware of him growing up, but I still don't really know if I understand the breadth of his work. So I just take people's word for it that he's a super cool guy. But for me personally, I think my sense of humor comes from a mashup of South Park and Larry David, for sure. You know, I really fly that flag hard.

M: Something else we really appreciate about your channel is that you go beyond simply teaching guitar techniques and cover songs. Many of your videos incorporate innovative tools and technologies that you use in your own practice. Can you share about your experience using AI, specifically the Moises app, as a guitarist and why you chose to integrate it into your tutorials?

SD: Well, I think AI is a scary buzzword for creatives, and I totally understand that. But it's so useless to rail against that. It’s here. Do you know what I mean? So it's like, we know that it's here, we know it's getting better every day, why not utilize it to the best of our abilities to make it cool? And I think if you don't lean in to understanding how these technologies work and using them to your advantage, you're going to get left behind.

So something like Moises is mind-blowing. And it's mind-blowing in a way that isn't replacing creatives; it's helping creatives.

At its heart, Moises is such a powerful education-based tool that helps musicians break down and understand the different elements of music. When you run a song through Moises and it gives the separated tracks within seconds, you have a whole new perspective on what goes into crafting a song. Having a tool that can separate stems and also give you the chords and the key and the beats per minute - it just gives you such incredible insight into the mind of a musician, which in turn can help you find your own voice as a musician. I really could have used Moises when I was trying to learn Elliott Smith songs back in college.

M: Besides track separation, are there other ways you use Moises in your everyday music making? In what ways has it elevated your playing and your teaching?

SD: I think the main thing would probably be finding the tempo of a song, that is such a solid feature. And then being able to change the tempo of a song without affecting the pitch is a game changer. Having the ability to loop a section of a song, isolate a particular instrument, like guitar, and then slow it down to practice is incredible. I think it is the most essential feature for people trying to learn guitar.

M: You mentioned that Moises can be a great tool, especially for beginner musicians. Do you see other effects apps like Mosies having an impact on up-and-coming musicians?

SD: I think the number one effect is just the efficiency and ease of use with breaking tracks down and practicing. I think maybe a secondary effect is understanding multi-track recordings a little bit better from a view that maybe wasn't around before. Having a little mixing section within the app to re-level things and play with effects can also give people insight into the recording process and a better appreciation for the art of multi-track recording in general.

M: Do you have any tips for musicians, both beginners and seasoned, who are interested in incorporating AI technology like Moises into their practice?

SD: My biggest tip is to simply listen to new music. It's crazy how many seasoned professionals that I know have not listened to anything that has come out in the last five years. It's wild how a lot of people calcify their musical taste and they just never evolve beyond that, which I think is in the same vein as being resistant to new technologies. I think a lot of musicians would be pretty stoked and a little less sour about the future of music if they listened to the music that is being made now and imagined how they can incorporate modern tools into their own work.

M: What's next for Sean Daniel? Where do you see your channel going in the next few years and do you have any other goals for the future?

SD: Well, right now I'm going to check out of this fine hotel and head over to the bustling metropolis of Winnipeg. Then as soon as I get back to Los Angeles, it's really just going to be more making music and then just showing off some of the new technologies, whether it's Moises or some gear companies, making those videos on my channel and trying to make music and music theory, music education, music technology as accessible to everybody as I can through YouTube. And then still just exploring more in-person, live opportunities. I love getting out and seeing people, so I'm on the road a lot.

M: Before we let you go, we gotta ask, who’s on your Mount Rushmore of guitarists?

SD: All right, we got Elliott Smith. I’d put Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead up there too. Jimi Hendrix is at number three. And lastly I’m going with Adrianne Lenker from the band Big Thief. I love her so much, and I don't think she gets enough credit as a guitar player, singer, songwriter, or anything else.

Check out one of Sean's videos talking about Moises:

Interview conducted and written by Jesse Stanford, Company Cue.

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