Megan Arns is a percussionist, ethnomusicologist, and educator with a diverse set of skills and a driven passion for her craft. She is an Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She regularly performs with three contemporary chamber groups: the [Switch~ Ensemble]—an electroacoustic ensemble based in New York City, Clocks in Motion; a percussion quartet based in Madison, Wisconsin; and DRAX—a saxophone and percussion duo in residence at Mizzou. Megan received her D.M.A. in Percussion Performance and Literature and M.A. in Ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren’t a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Megan Arns: I could see myself working in International Development or Nursing. I have always loved to travel and been passionate about working in under-developed communities, whether through health or the arts. While I have been fortunate to have a university position for the duration of my career so far, I have worked a lot of odd jobs throughout school, including delivering for UPS,making sandwiches at Mr. Goodcents and Panera, collecting U.S. census data, and working in libraries and call centers.
R!S: What’s one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?
MA: Columbia is a vibrant little town with lots of great festivals and local businesses. We have a huge international film festival each March called True/False Film Fest, a music and BBQ festival called Roots and Blues every August, the Mizzou International Composers Festival every July, and much more.
R!S: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
MA: I love my job and I love to travel! People might not know that I am a certified scuba diver. I got my license while living in Jordan, but don’t have the opportunity to dive much in the U.S.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
MA: At the current moment, my favorite percussion instruments would have to be the vibraphone and tuned gongs. The vibraphone has seemingly endless sound possibilities, and I really enjoy working with composers to find creative, non-conventional sounds. Tuned gongs have such a soothing, magical quality; I never tire of their sound or the quest to acquire more from different corners of the globe!
R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
MA: I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, and my primary music education came from playing in a historic youth Fife and Drum Corps. I started off on fife and eventually added snare drum. This group was very active, often with multiple performances a week and a busy travel schedule. It was a great, unique way to grow up with music and travel as part of my early life.