Ian's Musical Journey

Ian is a Seattle native who turned his back on the fame and fortune of grunge stardom to travel the world performing and learning about the music of various cultures.  His travels took him all over Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, South and Central America, Mexico, and the United States.  In the course of his musical adventures around the world he earned a Jazz Studies B.Mus and a Percussion Performance M.M. from the University of Washington, a B.A. in History from Pomona College, and he studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Lisbon.  He also has an academic background in digital media and languages and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.  His first love is drum set and he studied timpani, marimba, vibraphone, piano, and other instruments starting at a young age.  In 1995 Ian was asked to play drum set in the Pan Leggo Steelband, which got its start at Oberlin College.  He became the band’s leader in 1997 and soon realized he wanted to learn to play the steel drums himself.

These days Ian can be found performing and teaching steel drum on Holland America Line cruise ships in the Caribbean during the winter months, playing abroad in such places as Mexico and Canada; performing at music festivals such as the Ethnic Heritage Festival in Edmonton, Canada; performing in libraries and schools throughout the United States, and so much more!  He has performed with many musical luminaries in the past, such as Jackson Berkey of Mannheim Steamroller and Lee Oskar of the band War.


Ian’s musical hallmark is his ability to take disparate cultural influences and mix them together.  To offer a few examples, he puts the Caribbean steel drum in jazz and classical settings, playing John Coltrane and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and he takes popular American standbys, such as those by Jimmy Buffett, and transforms them by incorporating Salsa, Calypso, or other Latin/world rhythms.  He loves to combine musical elements to make music of other cultures accessible to North Americans.  At the same time, he is a great fit for communities with a large Hispanic population as his shows tend to resonates culturally with many Latinos and can be conducted in Spanish and/or English.

Ian defines his job as “musician and world music guide.”  He is equal parts performing artist, teacher, and travel guide and his vision is to bring the world together through music and technology.  To this end community outreach is a very important part of what he does and he strives to leverage technology to increase his effectiveness in this area.  This very web site includes its own social network (similar to Facebook) and uses those structures to create an innovative online music space for his audiences, students, and workshop participants to learn, mentor, and share.  His online materials allow Ian to encourage community involvement in his show before and long after his actual performance or class.

Ian Dobson's Pan Leggo/Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party Kids Show Bio

Take your family on a musical Caribbean vacation with Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party!  In the Caribbean a steel drum is called a “pan” and to party is to “leggo”.  Get ready to Pan Leggo!!  Journey with Ian to explore different cultures through music and see how you can use your creativity and resourcefulness to create music from anything.

Shorter, Musician-Oriented Bio

Ian has traveled the world performing and learning about the music of various cultures. His first love is drum set and he studied timpani, marimba, vibraphone, piano, and other instruments starting at a young age and eventually earned a Master’s degree in Percussion. He began performing steel drum music in 1995. Ian can be found performing and teaching steel drum on Holland America Line cruise ships in the Caribbean during the winter months, playing abroad in such places as Mexico and Canada; performing at music festivals such as the Ethnic Heritage Festival in Edmonton, Canada; performing in libraries and schools throughout the Northwest, and so much more! He has performed with many musical luminaries, such as Jackson Berkey of Mannheim Steamroller and Lee Oskar of the band War.

Please click here for examples of on-stage introductions

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