Daniel Kotval

Daniel K.

Chicago, IL
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Wide range of studies.

About Daniel K.

Daniel, a former faculty member of Columbia College in Chicago, is a studio and live performance singer and musician based in Chicago. His teaching and performing experience spans three decades, and includes expertise in the studies of voice, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and trumpet, along with music theory, arranging, and composing. He is a Lincoln Academy Student Laureate who holds a BA in Music Composition, and has attended graduate courses in education at Roosevelt University and DePaul University in Chicago. He has taught students of all ages at private studios, public school, and college.

Daniel is described by his students as a natural teacher. He prefers to be regarded as an advancing student, and takes the journey along with his students to guide them towards their goals with a friendly, positive, efficient and productive approach. He feels that music is within all of us, and a desire to learn is a sign of talent, so anyone can develop their musical abilities with methodical practice.

The musical journey for Daniel began at an early age with trumpet and piano studies which became a passion for him by the age of 14. He was the drum major of the high school marching band, and successfully completed a paid contract to arrange music for the high school jazz band which performed in a state beauty pageant. He began teaching privately after high school, and continued playing in bands, and composing original music. He formed a professional jazz ensemble under the name of the Chicago Jazz Players by the age of 22, and developed his arranging techniques while having it performed by an eighteen piece orchestra consisting of many great local artists. It was in this environment that he gained experience with brass, woodwinds, and rhythm instruments. He was granted a position at Columbia College as an instructor at age 29 where he taught theory, sight singing, musicianship, ear training, harmony, orchestration, and composition. He scored the music for several plays, and conducted his own pieces with Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Players. During those years he found himself playing the guitar and singing more than anything else. It was in 1995 that he focused on singing and playing the guitar with his rock band. He has produced several CD recordings of his original music in his own studio, and has helped produce local bands and artists. He performs regularly in the Chicago area.

*** Lesson Details ***
Daniel exhibits patience and care with each student, and develops an individualized approach based on clear goals with practical procedures. Most beginners can expect to have a working knowledge of music notation and how it applies to their instrument within three months, and should be developing fluency in performing music that they enjoy within six months. Advancing students will enjoy the rewards that will follow by studying with an experienced teaching musician that will recognize strengths and weaknesses, and recommend proven techniques for personal musical development. Studying music should be fun, fulfilling, and in harmony with the needs and desires of the student, and this is key to the philosophy held by Daniel.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Eight track recording gear; grand piano; guitars/bass (acoustic & electric); cables/amps, drum kit and percussion.

*** Travel Equipment ***
I can provide lesson materials, and always have a metronome with me. I expect the student to have an instrument. I prefer that a student has a music stand.

*** Specialties ***
Customized approach to the individual based on needs and goals.


Write a Review
40 Reviews
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Really great stuff !!

Posted Sep 12, 2019
Ashleigh S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

It was only a first lesson but I can already tell I'm going to be taking more lessons with Daniel. He's very knowledgeable, patient, and dedicated. He detailed a specific plan for me to work on that isn't too rigid or boring, I'm looking forward to relearning the flute with him.

Posted Jul 26, 2019
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Great 1st lesson! Looking forward to continuing and learning more

Posted Jun 28, 2019
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is very nice and patient! I'm an adult student learning Trumpet. I've had five lessons so far and it's been a wonderful experience!

Posted Apr 10, 2019
Margaret S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Dan is the real deal, if your interest lies in learning 'music.' I set out to learn theory after years of guessing around the fretboard, and Dan has found a way to make it look understandable, digestible and orderly. It's a language. Dare I say fun? It IS, when you start to understand it the way he teaches it! If you want to "shred Wylde riffs in 4 weeks or less," this isn't for you. If you want to learn music and get much better at your instrument (guitar in my case), this guy is definitely for you. He has the background, formal education, experience and passion to get you there, if you can put the effort.

Posted Mar 1, 2019
Carlos Lopez
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Very patient and is encouraging to someone who 40+ and decided to just start to to learn the trumpet.

Posted Sep 27, 2018
J. C.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I've found a keeper instructor. Lots of good players out there teach guitar, but somehow it just doesn't work out. Dan has plenty of experience playing, but it takes serious talent to teach others. Daniel has both! Sets goals for students based on their needs/aspirations. If you don't click with Dan, you might need another path, like tennis or swimming....

Posted Aug 3, 2018
Cory W.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Daniel was great, I have my own goals and he was able to tailor the lesson to what I was looking for. Looking forward to more lessons to come!

Posted Jun 6, 2018
Margaret S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is such a great piano teacher. He has a wonderful approach to his teaching style. I'm glad I found him after searching for a teacher that I like.

Posted Apr 28, 2018
Shane H.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is warm and friendly. He warmed up my voice, assessed my needs, and developed a technique-based plan for moving forward... and all this in my first session. I'm thrilled!

Posted Feb 27, 2018
Adi S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is the best teacher I have found.He is truly invested in your child's learning n progress.My son loved him.Im now enrolling my second child with him.He has great integrity and I learned so much from him about work ethic.Ok

Posted Nov 16, 2017
Manny S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Dan was great. Very patient with me.

Posted Nov 15, 2017
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

have never touched a musical instrument in my life. Im 46 years old. Dave brought the lesson to my level beginers and I feel confident that I will do well with Dave.

Posted Jan 4, 2017
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Knowledgeable about many areas of music (teaches many instruments). Very professional. Treats my child with respect and is good about focusing on the fundamentals of good playing so as not to develop bad habits which become harder to correct if not corrected early on. Gives my child suggestions and practice homework to improve techniques and proficiency.

Posted Dec 7, 2016
Julie S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is a natural teacher and inspires his students to share his love for music. He has a lot of experience and is patient with learners of all abilities. I have had 3 lessons with him so far and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. I am new to singing but learned piano when I was younger so I am not entirely new to music. He has helped me expand my horizons and believe in what I can do with my voice. During class, we cover music theory as well as the actual singing part. Progress will go faster if you study the theory on your own (he provides you with all the materials you need to learn) and come prepared.

Posted Nov 30, 2016
Madeline L.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is knowledgeable, understands how to teach young children and is patient. He is also very popular! For this reason I am unable to schedule lessons with him at this time.

Posted Sep 8, 2016
Nelson Anaya
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Good teacher and great person.

Posted Jan 22, 2016
Sarah Wasserman
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

My first lesson with Daniel was great. He met me right at my skill level and gave me things to work on, both in technique and rep. I'd highly recommend him.

Posted Jan 8, 2016
Karen S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

My daughter has progressed beautifully. Daniel is an excellent piano teacher who is patient. Recommend!

Posted Sep 24, 2015
maria B.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Daniel is great with kids, and there is no awkwardness in the lessons with him around my daughter. He is so kind, and he is willing to make the lessons work no matter what. We definitely recommend him as an instructor!

Posted Sep 3, 2015
Gary M.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Excellent teacher who is incredibly knowledgeable in all aspects of music. His use of the "pivot system" got me reading music in no time. As with all lessons, practice helps move things along, but even when "life" got in the way, Dan always made great use of our time. I will probably start up with him again once my schedule clears.

Posted Aug 10, 2015
Conner P.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Very friendly, competent, and enthusiastic. This is the teacher I've been looking for.

Posted Jun 18, 2015
Kim W.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Daniel is the real deal. He is extremely knowledgable and honest about what level you are at and what it will take to move forward.

Posted May 15, 2015
Kathleen R.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Dan has been a great teacher thus far. He is patient and finds material that I find interesting while keeping me engaged during the lesson. He has helped me with some vocal tips as well! I really am getting my money's worth taking lessons with him. I would recommend Dan to any aspiring musician in need of lessons!

Posted Jul 31, 2014
Valerie L.

Consistent quality

Daniel continues to devise new ways to make learning music theory fascinating, and the mechanics of playing the piano fun. His encouraging nature minimizes the frustration of being a beginning student.

Posted Feb 12, 2014
Anant S.

excellent instructor and a wonderful person

I have been taking music lessons with Daniel since April of 2013 and it has been a great learning experience.

I had no musical background and I started learning Saxophone with Daniel and 7 months later, I am able to play popular songs that he chooses to fit best for enhancing learning curve. He does a great job with reinforcing correct habits from the very beginning and has been very encouraging and has highlighted improvement as we go from class to class. As music learning can be frustratingly slow, the feedback and reassurance he provides definitely helps in keep going back for more.

I wanted to learn guitar and piano with him as well, he encouraged to learn only Piano (for enhancing learning curve for musical theory concepts) and hold guitar for later. Which speaks about how he is genuinely concerned about your learning of music with sound reasoning. So now I take guitar and Piano lessons with him. He is very patient, polite and professional. He is great with students of all ages and easily modifies teaching style as per student needs.

Besides all that he is a great person to talk to. Numerous times we have had great discussions about things outside music.

I would highly recommend Daniel for music lessons to everyone.

Posted Nov 21, 2013
Valerie L.

A Winning Combination

About a year ago, actually 13 months, I began voice training with Daniel Kotval. This is not my first go-round with voice training. During the twenty-or-so years I was studying and performing as a dancer I also studied voice…on and off. All told, I worked with five instructors who used a wide variety of teaching styles and techniques but I never felt that any of them gave me any really useful tools. I never felt that any of them truly taught me how to use my voice properly, to achieve the best results and avoid injury.

That was many years ago. In the interim, I’ve done plenty of singing – mostly for my own entertainment – but there’s been little improvement in the quality of my voice. I’m not certain what it was that made me suddenly decide it was time to work with a professional voice coach but decide, I did.

Once I’d discovered TakeLessons.com (the top result of my Google search for voice lessons in my zip code), Daniel was the obvious choice. We share Columbia College Chicago as an alma mater, and when I saw that he’d been on the faculty that was all the credentials I needed to see…and I was not wrong.

In addition to teaching the mechanics of proper breathing, posture and of course singing, Daniel places strong emphasis on music theory. You’d be amazed at how helpful it is to understand the theories behind everything; it makes all the knowledge crystalize so much faster!

As a teacher, Daniel is endlessly patient and supportive, always inspiring me to push ahead even when I feel frustrated. His teaching techniques work well for any student of any age at any level of experience, from rank beginner to accomplished professional, and voice training is not all that Daniel does. He teaches piano, guitar and bass, percussion and brass, and much more. A few months ago, we added piano to my curriculum. I’ve learned more from him in one year than I learned from five instructors over a period of many years, combined.

So far as I’m concerned it’s a winning combination: voice, piano, music theory, and Maestro Daniel Kotval.

Posted May 4, 2013
Daniel B.

Perfect teacher for the passionate student

I've been taking lessons with Daniel for a few months now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed and grew from each lesson. If you're serious about making music for fun or professionally, he's the teacher for you.

What I like most is how he creates a beneficial and serious learning environment that's still incredibly fun and positive. After a few lessons we were already playing songs together, and he's taught me a more effective way to practice on my own, which was a major problem for me.

As soon as you meet Daniel, you can tell how passionate he is about his craft, and if you display your own passion for music, you will work great together, and you WILL progress. I highly recommend him!

Posted Feb 17, 2013
Fangxi Z.

He is a great teacher for a old lady!

Daniel is a very good teacher. He is very patient, knowledgable, and experienced. He has a good approach to teach elderly to play piano.

Posted Feb 13, 2013
Sam H.

There are those who teach out of necessity, and those who teach out of passion

I'm taking music theory and composition lessons from Daniel to supplement what I already know from composing by ear. He's an excellent teacher, very enthusiastic about teaching the material, and extremely knowledgable. I feel like I've learned a ton so far and we're not even close to done yet! Highly recommended.

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Katelyn is really enjoying her lessons, her practices are self directed. She responds well to her instruction. We are very pleased.

Posted May 11, 2012

It works!!!

Daniel presents a wonderful combination of intensity and nurturing. It's quite inspiring being coached by him.

Posted Mar 21, 2012

A good teacher

Daniel is a very patient and knowledgable teacher. He has great passion on music.

Posted Mar 2, 2012


Mr Daniel is a very articulate,patient and has great amount of knowledge in his craft.He is very professional in his work.

Posted Jan 8, 2012

Daniel is an excellent instructor. He is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about teaching music. He is patient and supportive, while still giving honest feedback and constructive criticism. He helps the student find his/her own motivation to play by chosing different techniques as well as musical pieces that will inspire the student to want to play/practice.

Posted Jun 12, 2011

Novice flutist.....

Patient, encouraging & doesn't burst out laughing at my attempts. He is very knowledgeable about multiple instruments as well as music theory. I feel he is an excellent instructor & I will sign up for further lessons...as soon as I can!

Posted Mar 10, 2011


I'm having a great time learning the piano and the structure Daniel presented me has been wonderful. He utilizes a perfect balance on constructive criticism and positive reinforcement that makes me push myself even more! I'm very pleased!

Posted Oct 19, 2010

Great learning experience

Dan is a superb instructor. He is extremely positive and offers highly constructive criticism. Having played the trombone for 10 years from elementary school into college, he related new ideas in singing back to themes that I could conjure up from 20 years ago. Part of the good experience was due to Dan's adroitly combining theory with applicability.I am currently considering whether to continue lessons or not. (I have other scheduling conflicts.) But I would readily return to Dan for instruction.

Posted Sep 26, 2010

Daniel is Great Teacher!

My daughter LOVED Daniel's lessons! His style was perfect - patient and encouraging.

Posted Aug 29, 2010

Great instruction!

Dan is incredibly knowledgeable in (seemingly) all areas of music. My goal is to learn vocals, which honestly makes me a little nervous. Dan is very good about taking away any self-consciousness while imparting knowledge at the same time.

Posted Aug 4, 2010

Photos & Videos


BA in Music Composition
Oct 1987 - Jan 1990

Columbia College


Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award
May 1989

Lincoln Acadamy

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