Teaching Bio

John Damberg is a seasoned music instructor with over 40 years of experience teaching students of all ages in Anchorage, AK, Seattle, WA, and Detroit, MI. He is the instructor of Percussion at UAA, manages a full studio of private music students, and is the President and instructor for the Alaska Jazz Workshop (AJW) founded in 2000. The AJW is a community supported non-profit providing jazz education and performance opportunities for students from grade 7 through adults. John is also a frequent guest clinician at middle, high school, and university music festivals in Alaska and the Pacific N.W.

Education: John holds a Bachelors Degree in Orchestral Percussion Performance from Wayne State University, a Masters Degree in Percussion Performance, Jazz Studies & Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington, and a Bachelors in Music Education from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Performance Experience: Leader/Composer/Vibist: John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet and JoMaLa Jazz Quintet-1995 to present.

Vibist & drummer with Acclaimed Jazz Artists: Winton Marsalis, Kristin Korb, Denis Diblasio, Rebeca Mauleon,  Bobby Shew, Oscar Stagnaro, Jovino Santos Neto, Michael Davis, Miimi Fox, Vince Cherico, Barney McClure, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, and Peggy Stern.

Percussionist with: The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Harry Connick Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., James Ingram, Dionne Warwick; Broadway Shows including: A Chorus Line, the Wiz, the King and I; and the Detroit, Seattle, & Anchorage Symphony Orchestras.

John specializes in teaching private lessons and group workshops & clinics in the following areas:

Percussion instruments: vibes, marimba, steel drum, drum set, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian hand percussion instruments,  snare drum, timpani, orchestral percussion accessory instruments. Topics include basic technical skills, music reading, song repertoire development and interpretation, and practical music business skills.

Jazz Improvisation: Instruction in creative musical development at the beginning through advanced levels. Exploration of practical music theory, song forms, the different scales and modes, and techniques for the construction of improvised music melody lines. Instruction in developing group teaming and music business skills.

Piano: Instruction in practical piano skills required to play in jazz, pop, and commercial bands including: real time music reading, practical music theory, chord formation and chord symbol identification, exploration of a variety of of music scales and modes used in composing and improvising music and developing one’s inner musical voice through self expression.



“My Mission is to help you open the door to your inner creativity, 
so you can blossom as a person and live a more full, rich, and balanced life through the study of the art of music!”  John Damberg
, Alaska Master Percussionist, Bandleader, Composer, Educator & Businessman

John teaches private and group music lessons from beginning to advanced levels for students from age 8 through adults. He specializes in teaching the following subject areas:
 Drum Set, Keyboard Percussion, Timpani, Orchestral Accessory Instruments, Latin & African Hand Percussion, Steel Drums, Piano, Practical Music Theory, Improvisation, Business and Music Technology skills.

Skills Taught: Performance Techniques, Reading Music, Music Theory, Improvisation, Communication and Group teaming skills. Also Practical Music Business & Technology Skills.

Student Benefits: Experience the joy of creating music and develop better ensemble communication & performance skills. Develop your inner creativity. Improve your rhythmic skills, and develop your coordination. Explore other World cultures and their musical styles.

Fees: $35 for 1/2 hour and $65 for 1 hour private lessons. I also give Zoom and Face time lessons for the same rates to long distance students.

Teaching Locations:  John Damberg Studio of Percussion in East Anchorage or UAA Arts Building, Drum Studio for UAA students seeking college credit.


For more  information please call:
 (907) 332-3234 or e-mail john_damberg@gci

Comments from students and community 

November 2, 2023
Don’t stop teaching. You’re the best in town (Anchorage)!

Steven Alvarez-Percussionist with Anchorage Symphony & personnel manager

May 9, 2023

Regarding the Alaska Governor’s Individual Artist of the year award for 2023

A huge congratulations on this award!! I can’t think of anyone more deserving. You have had — and continue to have — an enormous positive impact on the Anchorage music scene and future generations of musicians. Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to music education in Alaska. It’s been a joy hanging and making music with you for nearly 30 years. Hope we have many more!

Bob Andrews-professional bass player

May 8, 2023

You’re the man. Thank you for the contribution to our music community!

Daryl Hollingsworth-professional bass player Seward, AK

May 8, 2023

Well deserved! So many lives enriched, including my own! 
Congratulations on your Artist of the Year Award and thank you!

Wyatt Tompkins-professional  bass player Anchorage, AK

May 7, 2023

John, I was so pleased to see this announcement earlier today. Congratulations to you!  you have given so much to jazz in our great state. sending from all of us in the panhandle.  

Tom Locher-Jazz pianist Juneau, AK

January 9, 2023

You’re providing tremendous enrichment for the Alaska music community at large. Kudos to you!

Michael Rihner-New Orleans jazz pianist, educator, and composer

December 26, 2022

John, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you the other day….You’re so dedicated to the kids and perpetuating jazz in general..I’ve always been impressed and admired what you’ve accomplished

Steve Douglas-Professional bass, guitar player, bandmate, and long time collaborator.

December 22, 2022

Special thanks to John Damberg!

I want to thank my professor John Damberg for his time with me and friendship. There is so much I could want to write about, but let me refine it down to a few words.  John had been one of the most patient, encouraging, and challenging teachers I’ve ever had. He is truly a master of the craft and is never short of a smile, laugh, or story that you can glean from. I’m going to  miss our time meeting up weekly and am thankful for all you have taught me!

Zeke Thompson-UAA Percussion and Education Major

December 23, 2020

I feel like I have improved more than ever this year. New skills left and right. Thank you for helping me to become the best player that I can be for the past 3 years. I look forward to continuing and learning so much more.

Kieran Erwin-piano student

April 21, 2017

Re: JD Teaching at the Region 1 Music Festival in Dillingham, AK

Thanks John! Also, the kids were singing your praises today.
They were in awe that you’d played with Aretha, Ray, and Michael.

Shannon Spring-Music Director Dillingham H. S.

October 23, 2016

Regarding Teaching & AJW


What wonderful news….you have a very rewarding job helping people create and grow.  

Blythe Marston, drum and AK Jazz Workshop Student Eiden Pospisil’s mother

April 19, 2012

Re: AJW Classes

Mr. Damberg,

I want to thank you for all the work you have done for students (especially my son Zack) over the years and I hope that the Alaska Jazz Workshop continues to inspire young people for many years to come.  Zack is now a freshman at UAF and a music performance major. 

Theresa Absher

April 3, 2012

Regarding Robert Michaels Trio performance & School Workshops at Valdez School, Valdez, AK

Valdez Arts Council,

As the High School and Junior High music director, I want to express my sincere thanks for the effort you put forth to bring Robert Michaels, John Damberg, and Dirk Westfall.  I know these outreach projects are a lot of organizational work for several volunteers and you don’t even get to see the fruit of your efforts.  I do.  John Damberg spent the morning with the Jazz Band, percussion ensemble, a sax quartet, and the Jazz Band’s rhythm section.  He spoke to the Concert Band about opportunities in higher education for continuing music studies and opportunities that exist at UAA and summer workshops available to them while they are still in high school.  I believe it is very important for my students to see the bigger picture when it comes to the Arts and that is only available when we travel or musicians come to us.  The latter is much more accessible to all!
 Those who attended the afternoon and evening concerts were very impressed.  

Please continue the work you do for our community and the schools.  I think most of us “caught the music bug” at a young age so be encouraged to carry on and bringing fine artists.



Ann Norris

Valdez High School, Valdez, AK






Let’s Improvise: Learning the Fun Art of Music Improvisation

Find your inner musical voice through improvisation: beginning – advanced levels.

Let’s Create Music Together: Small Combo Improvisation Skills and Techniques

Covers basic music theory and composition skills, song forms, group communication

Understanding the Percussionist’s Learning Styles and Psyche

Circular vs. Linear learning styles: a comparison

Tapping into the Oral Tradition of learning

Marching to the beat of a different drummer’s learning styles

Basic Percussion Techniques and Skills for all Percussion Instruments including:

Drum set

Keyboard percussion: vibes, marimba, xylophone, bells, chimes

Latin hand percussion:  congas, bongos, timbales, claves, guiro

Orchestral percussion: timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals

Functional Piano Introduction: Skills needed to play in bands of all types

Sight reading 101-Tips for Developing Effective Sight reading Skills

Enhance Your Musical Self Expression Through Hand Drumming, Singing & Improvisation

Introduction to Finale Notation Software program & How it applies to percussion notation

Exploring the Rhythmically Rich Music of Africa, the Caribbean Countries, and Brazil.

For more detailed information on the workshops listed above please contact John Damberg at 907-332-3234 or jbdamberg@gmail.com