Paul Yonemura


Paul Yonemura - Drummer, Composer, Conductor, Teacher

Paul Yonemura has been playing and teaching music for more than 40 years. He began his drum studies with Bay Area drummers David Bauer and Jack Taylor.  His playing career started out in his teen years in the booming East Bay Garage Band scene of the 1960s.  Bitten by the music bug, he went on to receive his Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music, studying with famed percussionists Fred Buda, Joe Hunt and Alan Dawson.  A Master of Music came 17 years later, from Northwestern University, where he studied conducting with John P. Paynter.  He has played with John Handy, Michael Wolff, Frank Martin, Art Van Damme, Don Piestrup Big Band, Sunny Wilkiinson, Cathy Segal-Garcia Kim Richmond, Jimmy Heath, Chris Vadala, Helen O'Connell, The Modernaires, Jon Faddis, Marc Russo, Wayne Wallace, Wayne Bergeron, Jamie Davis, and many others.  His teaching career has covered all levels, from elementary school through college, including CSU Stanislaus, El Cerrito High School, Portola Middle School, and Herbert Hoover Middle School in San Francisco.  His groups have earned their share of accolades at music festivals, including a win at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1991 with El Cerrito High School.  Currently a member of CMEA, he has served on the State Honor Groups committee and was also on the California IAJE Board of Directors.  Personal awards include recognition from the City of El Cerrito, City of Richmond, Richmond Unified School District, the West Contra Costa Public Ed. Fund in 2002 for teaching excellence, the Gilbert T. Freitas Award from CMEA Bay Section in 2007 for outstanding work in instrumental music education, and the Frank Sumares Memorial Award for Outstanding Jazz Educator in 2017 from CMEA Bay Section. He was also a three-time guest conductor for the West Contra Costa Unified School District Annual All-District Concert, a two-time guest conductor of the San Francisco Unified School District/AIM All-City Music Festival Middle School Concert Band, and a four time guest conductor at Cazadero Performing Arts Camp. Retired from teaching, he has remained active as a mentor for Students Rising Above, adjudicating music festivals, and is now on the Music Education faculty at San José State University, along with getting back to his first love of playing music.

Yonemura's drumming may be heard on several recordings:  Art Van Damme's BY REQUEST, singer Cathy Segal-Garcia's debut CD, POINT OF VIEW, and four releases under his own name, FIRST FLIGHT HOME, REUNION TRIOS, COMING BACK HOME and his latest release, KINDRED SPIRITS.  His drumming is also featured on singer Dale Head's new CD, SWING STRAIGHT UP, with the Rory Snyder Night Jazz Band.  He has also done a series of instructional videos for the JOHN X YouTube channel (John Xepoleas).