Rhythm & Timing für Musiker – 21.5.2020
Thomas grew up with his family in the small town of Madera, California. ”I didn’t come from a musical family, my first real exposure to music was a radio”.
However, When Thomas was in the 4th grade, he developed a crush on a girl who played drums in the school band. So, in an effort to impress her, Thomas joined the school band as a drummer! Unfortunately, the drums did not turn out to be her instrument and she quit the band a short time after Thomas joined. By that time however, Thomas had already discovered his first love and he was hooked… on music! ”My first drum set was the worst drum set ever! I had to keep it together with duct tape!” Thomas eventually made the decision to sell his souped up race truck to purchase his first professional drum set.
Thomas played in the school band and drumcorps all through high school and college. Right after high school, Thomas got offered his first teaching position as the percussion instructor for his high school’s band. ”It was a huge learning experience to be writing and teaching drum-lines for orchestra pieces” Thomas reflects. Thomas also learned a very valuable teaching lesson. ”It was strange to be teaching the buddies I had been hanging out with at school only a few months before that. It taught me a lot about respect, both commanding it and earning it.” While Thomas was teaching, he attended Fresno City College specifically to study under the direction of Mike Dana, a well known music arranger.
After teaching for three years, Thomas decided to try his hand at something else and got a job managing a paint store. But, it wasn’t long before Thomas missed being surrounded by music. So, he quit his job, packed his belongings and moved in with an old band mate who lived in the San Francisco bay area; with no plans in mind other than the pursuit of his love for music. Just one month after moving to the bay area, Thomas started working at Starland.
Being a part of Starland has brought about many opportunities for Thomas. For example; within six months of Thomas starting at Starland, the Starland Music Center percussion program was born. ”I didn’t really fall in love with teaching until I began working at Starland, and now I can’t imagine a time when I would ever stop teaching. Teaching music is a huge part of being a musician for me. It keeps me humble and young at heart! Also, over the years Thomas has played with many musicians that he met through Starland. Then of course there is the most important example of all; Thomas met his lovely wife, Deborah, at Starland.
Thomas has been in a variety of bands over the years, starting with a blues band when he was in Jr. high school that went by the name Tight Rope. ”We used to play gigs at a place called The Flamingo when we were in high school. It was a great experience!” Then, after moving to the bay area, Thomas started jamming every Thursday night on KBLR; a pirated Berkeley radio station. Those jam sessions eventually led to one of the bands he is still a part of today, Pockit! Since then Thomas has played in over 20 bands, some good, some bad, and some down right awesome! “I just wanted to be surrounded by music, so I took every gig I could find! The money wasn’t great, but the experience taught me to be a better musician and that is worth way more to me than money. Plus, it was inspiring to be involved with so many great musicians.”