To Top

Meet Ben Scanlan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Scanlan.

Ben, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up just outside Hartford, CT and was drumming from a young age but it wasn’t until I started high school that I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was around this time that I started playing in jazz ensembles in Hartford and decided to take my music education seriously. The jazz scene at the time was thriving due to the lasting impact of Jackie McLean and all the artists he mentored. This music scene was one of my earliest influences as a young developing artist.

Through jazz, I found my way to the vibraphone and through the vibraphone, I discovered the broader world of percussion as a whole. I would spend the next chapter of my journey studying percussion performance and music education at The Hartt School of Music. Through my undergraduate, I was able to study percussion traditions from Ghana, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, and the Middle-East from experts within the traditions. Since I also studied education during my undergrad, this is where my journey as a teaching artist would begin.

I made the move to Los Angeles in 2016 and began studying at the California Institute of the Arts as a world percussion major. Here I continued to study the music of Ghana and the Middle-East, as well as learning North Indian Classical music, and continued my study of jazz. I began studying music technology, recording, mixing and mastering, as well as incorporating technology into a live and improvised context.

Now as a musician, I am performing with my own projects as well as others led by fellow artists. Recent projects include “Time Thread” a percussion duo co-lead with fellow percussionist Kevin Moran, a piano trio “Music by Gestalt” (New EP dropping soon!) led by pianist Tim Johnson, the Koobang Ensemble, Bridge to Everywhere led by artistic director Derrick Spiva Jr., as well as various other ensembles throughout LA.

As a teaching artist I currently teach in many schools throughout LA, as well as teaching privately, and am fortunate to teach music to thousands of students throughout the Los Angeles School District! I feel my role as an artist is deeply connected to my role as an educator. Giving back the knowledge I have been fortunate to gain is something I care deeply about. Having just graduated with my MFA from CalArts earlier this year, I feel my journey as an artist in Los Angeles is just beginning and I couldn’t be more excited!

Has it been a smooth road?
Leaving the east coast where I was connected to the musicians and music scene was definitely an initial challenge. Moving to LA, I only knew a few people and had to begin the process of meeting new musicians and fellow artists all over again. LA can easily feel like a never-ending ocean and yet at the same time the longer I am out here the more everything starts to feel interconnected. As I meet more musicians, connections begin to form and it feels like I am completing another piece of the puzzle that is LA.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As an artist, my ability to exist in a multitude of areas is something I spent a great deal of effort working towards. I have spent my entire education ensuring that I am skilled in a variety of musical situations. Whether it be as a musician, a teacher, a recording engineer or anything else, I feel being well-versed is essential to my artistry.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: (860) 818-1618
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @benjamin.scanlan

Image Credit:
Megan Lee Miller

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in