The McDaniels: Family Support Story #6


One of the families I worked with very early on were the McDaniels.  I taught DJ, the eldest son.  

I first met him, and the family when I worked at Rising Star Music in Spotswood, New Jersey when I was a relatively new music teacher.  I was probably about twenty years old, and so I was still able to age-relate easily to younger teens, since I wasn’t that far ahead of them life-wise.   DJ was one of my guitar students, and when I eventually left the studio, he wanted to continue on with me privately, and so we worked together for several years to come.  I might have been teaching him until he graduated high school, but I don’t remember that part exactly. Even after we stopped doing lessons, I would often see him and hang out, often at the gym, or at the mall.

DJ was SO into music, and SO into guitar.  A true music fan, and someone who had true passion.  I say “was” because sadly, DJ did pass a number of years before this writing, but his memory is still persevering today by and through those that knew him.  

DJ loved all the classic rock, all the 60s psychedelic music, all the hard rock…, really just everything.  He loved Guns N Roses, Grateful Dead, Allman Bros Band, Metallica, and so much more. He also was a huge supporter of my band Amber Blues and he would tell everyone about us, and wear our shirts, and even learned some of our music!! A true teenage superfan.  

He was a really bright, and talented kid, and it was distressing to learn he had passed.

I had become close with his family over the years, and when he passed I went to the services and mourned with them.  I remember the day clearly, and I often think about him when I drive through Spotswood near his house.  

Dealing with the loss of a student, let alone a young student, is a very hard thing to process.  It was very upsetting, and sadly, this was not the first time it had happened in my experience either. Over the years I have lost a few students, and it never is easy, but their memories do live, which is why I am writing these blogs.  It’s important to keep their spirits relevant, at least to me, because I consider each of them to be an important part of my own personal story. DJ was a great guy, and he was so supportive of my endeavors as an artist, and just so enthusiastic about his passions.  He is missed, and I definitely wish I could have the chance to hang and jam with him again. 

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