Ryan Pearson is a Midwestern-based percussionist, performer, and educator. Ryan is a Lecturer at the University of Kansas and the Professor of Percussion at Fort Hays State University, teaching applied lessons, percussion pedagogy, methods, and literature. He also instructs the FHSU percussion ensemble and Kansas University Percussion Group. Ryan performs regularly as a chamber musician, orchestra member, and soloist. He is an avid performer and collaborator, working with the Heartland Marimba Ensemble and the PostScript (PS) Duo.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Ryan Pearson: Had I have not focused my life around music, percussion, and teaching, I would have loved to pursue a career in the culinary arts. I very much enjoy cooking and experimenting with recipes, and I could easily see myself opening a restaurant!
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
RP: The strangest gig was probably when I and another percussionist were hired by Captain Morgan—yes, the rum company—to accompany an actor dressed up as "The Captain" plus a handful of models to multiple drinking establishments around town. We would march in playing drums and proclaim the entrance of "The Captain." Best of all, we were driven around in a limo! Very odd, but quite fun.
R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
RP: Probably that I am a mostly quiet individual, except while I am teaching. My students will likely tell you I can go on forever about a particular subject, phrase, piece, composer, etc. They may think I'm crazy at times, but sometimes the passion has to come out!
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
RP: My favorite instrument has to be the marimba. I know that is most likely a popular answer, but the marimba is such a beautiful instrument and means so much to me. It's the instrument I feel I can express myself on the best. Plus, you look pretty cool when you play it. For me, it can't be beat.
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
RP: I grew up in Mitchellville, Iowa, which is a very small town outside of Des Moines. I grew up on a farm, and many people find it interesting that I raised a few cows when I was growing up! Growing up on a farm, I learned a lot about hard work, and I believe that has helped me immensely with my work as a freelancer, adjunct teacher, and even in the practice room.