David Castañeda first began autodidactically, referring back to his parents’ Oscar D’Leon, Grupo Niche, and various other Caribbean dance music records, listening intently to understand how the percussion functioned in Latin music. He met respected percussionist Julio Areas at a rehearsal and began studying under Areas, with whom David studied artists like Amadito Valdez, Orestes Vilato, Samuel Formell, and the great Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito” closely.
Upon graduating high school, David began studying music academically, emphasizing in Jazz composition and arrangement at the University of California, San Diego. He would go on to study and perform with faculty such as David Borgo and Mark Dresser, as well as GRAMMY award-winning producer Kamau Kenyatta, with whom David has worked with ever since. Outside of the university, David performed musics ranging from salsa to modern jazz, with artists such as Charlie Chavez, Richard Sellers, Joe Garrison, Gilbert Castellanos, GRAMMY Award-winners Curtis Taylor, Alan Philips, and many others.
David completed his B.A. in 2013 with honors, then was accepted into the Afro-Latin Master of Music program at California State University, Los Angeles. There he would study under Calixto Oviedo and Euro Zambrano, earning his M.M. in Afro-Latin in 2015. In that time, David continued to work in genres ranging from Latin American dance music to modern jazz, with various bands in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.