Ricky Lomeli is CMC’s new Associate Registrar. He is also a drummer, a pianist, a teacher, and a composer. Read on to learn more!
Q: Where did your musical journey begin?
Well to start, my mom is a naturally musical person and a really talented singer. I recently heard her singing karaoke at a party and was reminded of what a great voice she has. I think she inspired me early on.
I actually started playing an instrument in the fifth grade. I was interested in the saxophone, but the rental was too expensive. Snare drum sticks were $5, so the rest is history! I was a big band nerd. I loved marching band and was the leader of the drum line my senior year of high school. I actually started composing for the first time in this role.
In high school I started playing shows in a ska band. We played every weekend for about a year and a half. We wrote all of our own music, and ended up being pretty big (amongst our friends, anyway!). I loved the feeling of doing something creative and seeing people enjoy it.
Since then, I’ve played in four other groups that played original music, and a lot of pick-up groups. I grew up in Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, so there were a lot of winery gigs to play.
One more thing: the main reason I stuck with drums was that my dad told me he had always wanted to be a drummer, but didn’t have the means (this was a year or two into my playing). I was already driven, but this fact became and continues to be a huge driving force in my development and inspiration: knowing I was getting this opportunity my dad couldn’t have and he had made possible for me by coming to this country.
Q: What are you up to musically now?
My main project right now is called Cabbagehead. We are a jazz sextet and we play compositions we’ve worked on together over the years. They’re friends from college who played my senior recital with me. We actually just recorded our first album! We’re releasing it next month. I was trepidatious about starting an Indiegogo campaign and asking friends for support but we got completely funded in 48 hours.
We have a single on bandcamp.
You can check out my music and my other projects on my website.
Q: I see that you are also a drum teacher. How does this experience help you in your role here at CMC?
Well, it’s made the transition to this job as easy as it gets. I am now in a community of people I’ve always been a part of, in away. I’ve always surrounded myself with artistic folks. CMC is a solid community and it seems like people really know each other here. I’m on the front lines at the front desk, so just dove right in!
Q: What do you like about teaching?
I’ve received so much help and guidance as a musician, so being able to give back to someone else is really gratifying for me. Music has really guided my path mentally and spiritually. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for music.
Connecting with a young spirit is amazing, too. I like helping kids express themselves. I had a five-year old student named Zoe who wrote her own drum etudes and named each of them after animals. We recorded them together during our last lesson together.
I was teaching four days a week up in Sonoma County before coming to CMC. I recently moved to Oakland just north of Lake Merritt in order to work here. I’m now focusing on practicing and writing my own music. I hadn’t had a chance to do that since high school!
Q: What was it like to perform in our Performathon early on in your time here?
It was awesome! The Performathon felt really representative of what CMC is all about: it seemed 100% about making connections with people of all ages, all sorts of people, in one place, on one day, performing together. That was so cool.
I played percussion during the grand finale, “Ode to Joy,” and had never rehearsed with the choir before that night. I was amazed at how well it went. I also didn’t realize how many people in the upstairs office are musicians!
One last thing: I loved being in the “Registrar drum section” with Linda Hitchcock on tympani.
Q: Do you have any other interests besides music?
Spirituality was a big part of my life as a kid, and I’ve come back to it now by exploring Eastern philosophy. But really, it’s pretty much just music for me.