Nasshan, John

Freelance Professional

[email protected]

"I choose Mike Balter Mallets because they are professional and provide the answers to all of my requirements. As Principal Percussionist/Timpanist with the Henderson Symphony the Bamboo Timpani Mallets allow me to achieve every nuance from a subtle ppp to a roar, from staccato to legato. These mallets do the job!  Thank you Mike Balter." 


Born into a family deeply involved in music, John Nasshan never chose music or drums or percussion, it chose him. Exposed to percussion by his grandfather, Bobby Christian, there was always music being played at home, whether it was Gramps practicing every day, or The Bobby Christian Big Band rehearsing every Sunday afternoons. John's mother Sylvia, herself a vocalist and piano player, claims that as a child John would beat on his high chair in rhythm whenever music was played. By age three he was a banging on Mom's pots and pans, so at age five the family gave John his first snare drum and Bobby Christian drum lesson. As early as first grade John played in the school band.

Through a combination of great teachers and school playing experience, John joined a group called The Musical Wades, which traveled the USA playing at county fairs and attended 7th grade via correspondence school. The skills needed for this position were given John by his teacher, Roy Knapp and his grandfather. Back home for 8th grade and was introduced to big band playing by his teachers and a high school band director in Chicago named Paul Tolosko, who would let John sit in with his band at rehearsal at Proviso West HS. John enrolled at Fenwick HS and immediately joined the band under then director Cy Race. After Cy Race, came Randy Szostek and Tom Beranek as directors at Fenwick. During the high school years John was called to play his first Broadway show, "Guys and Dolls", and was guided through the process of Broadway Drumming by Randy Szostek and the show's musical director Ed Ward, who John met during his years in the percussion section of the Chicago CYO Band, where Ed Ward was conductor. Since then John has played many. Broadway shows. On to college...

Enrolling in the Music School at DePaul University, was chosen for John by Roy Knapp because Roy knew that the best "next" teacher for him was Bob Tilles. John played in every ensemble and band you could imagine at DePaul, but not the Orchestra. The classical music bug first bit John when he studied with Al Payson who insisted John play with the DePaul University Orchestra, being a good student John joined the orchestra. Quickly noticing that the person in the Percussion Section who played more notes and counted fewer measures rest was the Timpanist, that's what John wanted to play.

Leaving college early for a road gig on drums with a show called "Gene Kelly's Salute to Broadway" exposed John to musicians from all over the USA and he met a couple of guys from Las Vegas who told him about how much work there was out there, and that they were going from the tour to gigs and could help John find work... Time to move!

John landed in Las Vegas in January 1976, and worked steady for the next 35 years as a drummer and percussionists in the hotels and showrooms in the strip hotels. During this time, also spending some time touring with Petula Clark, Jack Jones, Buddy Greco, Joe Williams and Don Menza.

In 2006, John was asked to fill a vacancy in the Percussion section of The Henderson Symphony Orchestra. There was a Timpanist, and John would do the other Percussion with added players for each performance. The Timpanist stopped coming to rehearsal, so John played Timpani. The conductor was very happy with what John did, so HSO designated John as Timpanist/Principal Percussionist. During the first season as principal, John realized that his Timpani mallets were not doing the job for him. John had followed the history of Mike Balter Mallets since they were students together at DePaul. The call to Mike was made and John had fantastic Timpani mallets...finally! John continues as Principal and Timpanist with the HSO as well as freelancing as a drummer/percussionist for clubs, showrooms, Broadway shows and private parties, is a Contemporary Jazz Radio host on 91.5FM Las Vegas.