Dan Ainspan is the Social Media and Web Content Manager for the Percussive Arts Society. Originally from Albany, New York, he’s been working at PAS since July of 2015. He is an avid drummer and percussionist, tech enthusiast, and sports fan.
Rhythm!Scene: How did you get started in percussion?
Dan Ainspan: I naturally picked up the drums when I was a little kid and have been playing ever since. I began formal instruction when I was in elementary school, then continued on in high school and studied percussion throughout college.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
Dan: Although the marimba has grown on me over the years, if I had to choose only one, it would be the drumset. Nothing beats a solid, feel-good groove on the kit, and the independence and creative possibilities are endless.
R!S: What was one of your most memorable performances as a student percussionist?
Dan: I’d have to say my senior percussion recital in college. To be able to present a challenging program to my friends, family, and colleagues, all the result of four years of incredible work and dedication, was quite memorable and gratifying.
R!S: Who were key or memorable teachers in your musical education?
Dan: I owe a lot to teachers I studied with early on in the Albany area, from my high school teachers Kathleen Ehlinger and Lee Russo, to performing in the Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) under the direction of John Antonio, Richard Albagli, and Mark Foster. My college professors provided me with incredible tools and wisdom to push me to the next level; a huge thanks to Dr. Julie Licata (percussion), Blake Fleming (drumset), and Dr. Joe Pignato (drumset).
VIDEO: Alan Walker - Faded (Percussion Cover)
R!S: What was your introduction to PAS?
Dan: In 2014, while studying at the State University of New York College at Oneonta with Dr. Julie Licata, our percussion studio took a trip to Indianapolis for PASIC. This was my first PASIC as well as my first interaction with PAS. I was blown away by all of the inspiring clinics and performances, the diverse amount of gear on display in the expo hall, and the sheer number of drummers and percussionists all in one place. A year later, I graduated from SUNY Oneonta and landed the six-month internship with PAS. I was extremely excited and ready to get involved with the organization that had already done so much for me. After the internship I was hired full-time and have been with PAS ever since.
R!S: What’s the first section you read in a new issue of Percussive Notes or Rhythm!Scene?
Dan: Usually the cover story for that issue.
R!S: If you aren’t playing or teaching percussion or working at PAS, what are you doing?
Dan: When I’m not in the PAS office, I enjoy performing with the Indiana Pacers High Octane Drumline, the Indianapolis Symphonic Band, and local rock/pop band Greta Speaks. I also enjoy recording and producing music videos, as well as pursuing my passion for writing (read Dan’s interviews with Casey Cooper [April 2016 Rhythm! Scene] and Tristan Kelley [December 2015 Rhythm! Scene]).
R!S: What is one thing you wish all student percussionists knew about PAS?
Dan: PAS is an organization that relies on the active involvement from its members! Get involved with your local chapter and percussion studios, become a Student Delegate, attend PASIC, and seek out PAS Committees that allow you to network with other percussion professionals who will be able to help you and PAS!