Encompassing the worlds of jazz, rock, classical, world music, R&B and hip-hop, Donald Pena has committed the better part of 15 years to being a student of these various styles of music. With an emphasis on Jazz and Music Production, Donald graduated with a degree in Contemporary Music from Santa Fe University of Art and Design. In addition to studying music in school and having been a member of school-affiliated groups such as Big Band, Latin Jazz Band, Balkan Ensemble, Funk Ensemble, and Jazz Quartets and Quintets, Donald has been playing professionally for over a decade and has been teaching for nearly as long. He is currently the guitarist and one of the main producers for the award-winning group The Maya Spectra.
Donald’s interest in music was sparked when, on one Christmas Eve, his younger brother was gifted an electric guitar. That night, despite it being his brother’s instrument, Donald learned his first song on the guitar. Luckily for Donald, his brother had already set his heart on playing the drums. Within a couple of years, Donald was gigging professionally and studying jazz formally under Pete Pancrazi. He soon became the pupil of some of the Valley’s greatest musicians: Dom Moio, Raul Yanez, and Nick Manson.
Donald’s teaching style is in part derived from his most influential teachers, wherein lessons are based on the individual desire and musical taste of a student, coupled with a strong instilling of the fundamentals of music theory, vocabulary, and fretboard harmony. His goal is to cultivate within the student a sense of authority over their instrument so that they are eventually able to teach themselves.