Drum Instructors

Melanie Medina

(bio and picture coming soon!)

Don Wiseman

Don has over 15 years of teaching experience in the San Diego and  La Mesa area.

As a Percussion Class instructor at Grossmont High School and Hillsdale Middle School, Don has taught hundreds of students. Many of them have become instructors and performers throughout the San Diego area.

As a class and private instructor, Don has developed a style of teaching that  inspires confidence in students whether you are picking up drumsticks for the first time, or are already rockin’ out in clubs and want to sharpen your skills as a percussionist.

In his years as an instructor of drums and percussion in the San Diego and La Mesa area, Don has built long lasting relationships with many of the local school band and orchestra teachers. In an effort to keep music programs in schools, Don volunteers time to help with school percussion programs as well as independent percussion ensembles throughout the San Diego area.

Currently Don is performing throughout the San Diego area in various bands and recording projects. Aside from his teaching schedule, Don is earning his Bachelors degree in Music Education at San Diego State University.


Bernard ‘Yiriba’ Thomas

Yiriba has been a visual artist and percussionist for over 40 years performing, teaching and studying African and Afro – American expression throughout the U.S. and Africa.  Currently he is based in San Diego, California and performs in both music and theater settings. He expresses himself in several disciplines as a multi-talented drum and mask maker, costume designer and singer. He has been carefully trained by some of the best masters of West African folkloric tradition such as  Zak Diouf from Senegal and Naomi Geddo from Liberia both directors of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company, Nimely Napla director of the Liberian National Cultural Troup,  and Grand Master Djembefola Mamady Keita from Guinea. It was Master Drummer Ya Ya Diallo from Fienso Mali who Yiriba also studied with that  gave him the name ‘Yiriba’ from Ya Ya’s native dialect Bambara. It means ‘the tree which gives cover to those who gather there to learn and which has great roots’. Most recently Yiriba  studied and traveled through out Mali West Africa with Master drummer Moussa Traore from Bamako Mali. He is presently founder, co-director, lead drummer and vocalist for Teye Sa Thiosanne African Drum and Dance Company based in San Diego California. Yiriba is celebrated for his vibrant dedication to the presentation, development and understanding of African and African-American culture.

Monette Marino-Keita

Monette’s professional playing career began in 1993, after having studied traditional and popular percussion rhythms from Latin America for over 14 years.  Monette began her apprenticeship with Master Djembe Drummer Mamady Keita, from Guinea, West Africa, in September of 1996. After three years of intensive studies with Mr. Keita, she was granted permission by Mr. Keita to open the 11th branch of his school in 1998.

In 2001, Monette won the National Hand Drum-Off competition at Drum Day LA, sponsored by the Guitar Center.  Since 2004 she has been touring with Master Drummer Mamady Keita teaching classes and performing with him and his band Sewa Kan around the world.  Recently, she has branched out as a Solo Artist, writing and producing her first album titled “Coup d’Eclat” which blends African and Latin rhythms and melodies inside Funk and Rock grooves.  Monette’s music highlights traditional African instruments such as the Djembe, Kora (known as the African Harp) and Balafon as well as the Caribbean Steel Drum, and of course loads of Latin percussion instruments.  It is truly World Music.

Monette continues to explore many drumming systems from around the world and has a deep respect for the cultural heritage preserved and passed on through the language of the drum.



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