Swallow Hill Music Scholarship Student: “It’s a Family Here”

Daniel Dearmin and Trent Nelson
Daniel Dearmin and Swallow Hill Instructor Trent Nelson hang out before class on a recent afternoon. Daniel is well known throughout Swallow Hill.

When asked about the benefits of taking music lessons at Swallow Hill, Daniel Dearmin says “It helps with my therapy and my disabilities.”

“Music is a therapy,” he continues.

Daniel started taking music lessons at Swallow Hill over a dozen years ago. He’s now a familiar face in our halls, classes, and even on stage at One Epic Night. He credits our Scholarship Program for allowing him to continue on his musical path.

The benefits extend into the social realm as well.

“You know, when you have limited limited income, limited this that and the other thing, and you’re getting older, there’s the whole isolation thing going on so, socially, there’s a reconnect there. It’s a family here.”

He was still new to Swallow Hill when he realized he might have to stop enrolling in classes due to financial concerns. He mentioned this in passing to his teachers and fellow classmates who urged him to explore scholarship opportunities. He did, and it made all the difference.

“I don’t think some instructors realize what impact they have,” Daniel says of his teachers, who continually provide him with support and inspiration.

Learn More about Swallow Hill’s Tuition Assistance Program

Chris (Citrus) Sauthoff helped him a lot. Daniel met Citrus shortly after he had extensive back and spinal surgery. At the time Citrus was going through some physical rehab of his own.

“I’d come to music because I’d started having some problems, I had surgery and I kept quiet about a lot of things,” Daniel recalls. “I was trying to take guitar lessons because my dad suggested taking them.”

“And wouldn’t you know Citrus had his thing about the same time when I was losing dexterity? One hand wouldn’t listen to the other,” Daniel recalls. “I remember I told him what was going on with me, and he was like, ‘If you can’t play an instrument, why don’t you sing?’ So he pushed me to sing.”

Ultimately Citrus encouraged him to sing at a graduation, putting Daniel on the spot. He rose to the challenge though, and the experience remains among his favorite Swallow Hill memories.

“I was scared to death. And I sang,” Daniel says with some pride. “He just saw something there, he believed in me, I could see it in his eyes, and if he believed in me then I just needed to get with it.”

Even with his newly found voice, Daniel wanted to keep playing an instrument despite his physical ailments. He explained to Citrus his desire to play an instrument despite being able to use only one hand. “Well man, why don’t you just play a one-handed instrument?” Citrus suggested.

He laughs a little as he recounts this. “It took the drama out of it. You know, there he was, he reconnected with his stuff really fast, but it was just so obvious.”

“Sure enough, I ended up finding my old tambourine, and there you go.”

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Daniel Dearmin at One Epic Night
Daniel Dearmin performs in Daniels Hall as part of Chadzilla’s House of Rock All Stars at Swallow Hill’s 2018 One Epic Night fundraiser in 2018. Photo by John Leyba.

A more recent example of an instructor helping him out comes from earlier this year. Daniel was already enrolled in Jeff Rady’s Metamodern Country class, but Kim Dawson suggested he also join her Motown class. He lacked the funds, however, to do so.

“This is what I mean by Swallow Hill being the way it is,” Daniel says with a smile. “One class I got on the scholarship, but Kim thought I should be in her class so she sent out a lighthearted group email about it. Before I knew it, one of the students who got the email had a class credit and she applied it towards my tuition.”

“I was like whoa, that never happens! So that’s what Swallow Hill is. It’s a big deal.”

When asked to sum up his Swallow Hill experiences, Daniel says “It’s all been therapy, that’s what classes at Swallow Hill mean for me.”

“The results have been astronomical, I shouldn’t be able to do what I do. I can’t drive a car, but I can ride my bike and I’m not supposed to!” he says with a mix of laughter and amazement.

“I think that has to do with the music therapy, the stimulation and the challenges.”