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Rich Fongheiser – Drums and Percussion

Rich Fongheiser brings the “fun” aspect to learning drums and everything percussion for students of all levels of interest, learning styles and abilities using 21st Century technology and approaches. If you are an absolute beginner or seasoned professional, there is something to be gained from Drumtalk Studios. If drumming is a fun activity or serious passion, there is something to be gained from Drumtalk Studios. If you are in school band, any style rock/garage band, jazz group or simply enjoy playing along with recorded music, there is something to be gained from Drumtalk Studios. It’s fun, it’s invigorating and it’s fun!
Rich Fongheiser has been a working musician and private instructor in the Bay Area for his entire career. His professional musical experiences span the gamut of styles from rock, funk, jazz (small group and big band), Latin, drum corps and theatre work. Not to mention myriad club, private and corporate dates that fill out most professional musicians calendars. Over the years he has had the opportunity to share the stage with a wide range of name artists along with many bands playing every style of music. Among the artists he has appeared with are Mic Gillette (Tower of Power), Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power), Terry Gibbs (famed jazz vibist). Ritchie Cole (Alto Madness), Bruce Foreman (Ray Brown, Charlie Shoemaker, Jazz Masters Workshop), John Santos, (Famed Afro-Cuban Percussionist, Machete Ensemble, John Santos Sextet), Bob Wackerman (Alan Holdsworth), Steve Allen (Late-Night originator), Frank Martin (Sting, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Producer), Cheryl Ernst (Jazz Vocalist), Diahann Carroll, The Fifth Dimension, Kay Starr, Val Diamond (Beach Blanket Babylon) and Bob Athayde.
Rich has also played in many bands including, Bold Truth (funk band, opened for Tower of Power), Fat Cat (hard rock band), Ronnie Wells Extension (top-40 cover band), Shelters (club band), Mark Steidel (corporate, society band), Full Faith and Credit (big band), Bob Enos Big Band, Sounds of Joy (touring band, Merv Griffin Television Show, Clint Eastwood Celebrity Tennis Tournament, Los Angeles Premier of “Mame”), Danny Marona (entertainer), Comic Strip Live (national television show).
Studying drums and percussion has always been and still is his passion. Aside from his formal education as a Percussion Major at Chabot College and Cal State East Bay, he has, over the years, studied a huge range of percussion skills. It all started with Bill Nawrocki, his main teacher, the one that gave him his foundation and beyond. He continued his progress by studying funk drumming with Dave Garibaldi, (his college buddy that allowed him to check out all of the amazing stuff he was innovating way back then) and from Chuck Dowd (author of “Funky Primer for the Rock Drummer”). He continued studying rock/fusion drumming with Narada Michael Walden (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Grammy winning producer), big band drumming with Ed Soph (Woody Herman, North Texas Sate Professor, Aebersold Clinician) and “Baron” John Von Ohlon (Stan Kenton), Latin drumming from John Rae (Cal Tjader), brush technique from Ed Thigpen (Oscar Peterson), hand technique from Cuck Brown, symphonic percussion from Anthony Cirone (San Francisco Symphony, Head of Percussion Department, San Jose State, author of “Portraits in Rhythm”, and numerous percussion texts and ensembles), symphonic cymbal techniques from Joe Sinai (San Francisco Symphony) and body percussion from Keith Terry (Cal Berkeley, USC). He also attended Aebersold clinics, Stan Kenton clinics and various Drum Clinics too numerous to mention.
Some of Rich’s students have gone on to play with the likes of The Counting Crows, Peter Frampton, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Tracy Chapman, Antigone, Lenny Picket (Tower of Power, SNL), Soul Fire Machine and Iron Butterfly (Yes, he got to play “In – A – Gadda – Da – Vida”). His students are also consistently chosen to perform in Honor Bands, receive music awards, i.e. most improved musician, best musician. Some play in YPSO (Young Peoples Symphony Orchestra) in Berkeley while others have gone on to study at Julliard, Berklee College of Music, Oberlin, Case-Western, USC, Cal Arts and NYU. One student won a Grammy for recording engineering, one has starting his own drum company and some are currently making a living playing and/or teaching music.
In addition to teaching privately, Rich has taught rock and funk drumming at Soundwall Summer Rock Camp, rudimental drumming for the Weldonian Drum Corps, classical percussion and jazz drumming at numerous schools including Stanley Middle School under the direction of Bob Athayde, JM Middle School under the direction of Adam Noll and Edna Brewer Middle School under the direction of Zack Pitt-Smith, a rhythm class as it pertains to math for math classes at Pine Valley Middle School, Rock and Roll History at Neil Armstrong Elementary, an African History and Indian Music Class at Crystal Springs/Uplands School, ethnic drumming to an all Muslim home schooled group, facilitated drum circles, adjudicated for the Percussive Arts Society and the Guitar Center Regional Drum Set Contest and worked with Mr. Eugene Graves (Head of Music Department, Chabot College) preparing music teachers to teach drum set through MENC.
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