Daniel Miller had an auspicious start in music: His father put him in violin lessons at four-and-a-half years old and it’s been a constant in his life ever since. He started learning to play ukulele at ten, then got into guitar. Miller quit violin at 15 and started with a garage band - continuing to play music throughout college, and eventually earning a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production from Berklee College of Music. Now he plays in five (!) bands - serving as bandleader for one, and owns and teaches at Rockory Music School.
Following graduation from Berklee, Miller returned to the Seattle area and a challenging job market. He worked at a different music school for five years, then started Rockory in 2016. His friend Kenn Wildes owns Stage 7 Pianos, and Miller started with a room there as the sole Rockory teacher. Eventually, he moved to a neighboring space and has added instructors over time as demand increases. Miller connected with the way music fundamentals were presented at Berklee, and that informs how he teaches and runs his school. “My definition of success is to have all my income derived from music activities. I love performing equally with teaching,” he says. Often playing with his bands on regional tours, he recently performed at Folklife Festival.
Miller loves to play outside - outdoor performances are a major feature of Rockory summer camps. “I like the sound quality better outdoors, it’s just an enjoyable experience,” he says. Rockory offers two band experiences for kids; a school-year program which entails a group of kids rehearsing weekly, culminating in an indoor concert with the traditional trappings of a rock concert like printed posters and a cover charge. The other is the summer camps which allow a performance akin to busking in a more informal setting. “I’d like to enter into some partnerships with venues for our summer camp students to perform, the busking performances are fun for everyone (students and the public),” Miller says. Student recitals are twice per year, and a recent partnership with Lake Washington Christian Church as a venue has been working out well.
This year, Miller celebrates seven years of Rockory Music School and in the future, he hopes to add a woodwind department with flute and saxophone teachers. “When I look at that time, I’m grateful I made it this far. I do all the business aspects of Rockory and it’s working.”