MUSIC > Instructors
Meet the talented group of teachers who instruct and inspire at Bird:
Matt Funamura | Joaquin Gallegos | Tom Griesser | Dave Mihaly | Blake Ritterman | Marissa Simmons | Tim Switzer | Andres Trujillo
Matt Funamura: Trumpet & Guitar
Matt Funamura is a trumpeter, guitarist, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist raised in the Sierra Nevada
Foothills near Sacramento. At the age of six, he picked up his first guitar and trumpet at the age of 8, beginning
his musical journey.
He majored in music performance and jazz studies at American River College in Sacramento, California for two
years, during which time he was a freelance musician throughout the West Coast. He then went on to earn a Bachelor
of Performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Matt has performed with and studied under numerous musicians in a wide range of genres including: Angelique Kidjo,
Ingrid Jensen, Tiger Okoshi, Gamble & Huff, Salvador Santana, Joe Gilman, Charles Haynes, Dontae Winslow,
Jerry Martini and Victor Mendoza.
Trumpet & Guitar
Joaquin Gallegos: Piano/Drums
Born and raised in Hollister, California, next to the garlic capital of the world,
Joaquin was immersed in music from an early age. Inspired by his grandfather, who would occasionally belt
out passionate Spanish melodies in euphoric times of celebration, Joaquin became fascinated with the vast
range of expression through sound and music.
After studying classical music at SFSU, Joaquin began teaching himself the didjeridoo and overtone singing,
which plunged him deeper into the world of resonance and rhythms. Completely enthralled by sound, he further
explored these ideas while earning his graduate degree. Through playing in experimental, African and Indian ensembles
which would sometimes make use of psychoacoustics and extended techniques, Joaquin fully embraced and to this day
continues to explore the vast versatility of sound waves and vibrations.
Passionate about teaching music, Joaquin strives to learn through his students and the music they delve into.
Constantly developing his teaching methods, Joaquin promotes an open and simplified approach towards creating music.
He wishes to one day more intricately apply his knowledge of improvised music and alternative soundscapes to
inform youngsters about the infinite possibilities of sound.
Joaquin has earned an AA in Behavioral Sciences and a BM and MFA in piano performance. Apart from a love for
philosophy and reading, he enjoys playing in and listening to a wide variety of musical genres; everything from
mariachi, hip hop, jazz, metal, rock and pop, to experimental, free improv, classical, african, microtonal,
ambient and Indian music.
Tom Griesser: Saxophone/Clarinet
Tom Griesser fell in love with jazz at age 6 while listening to his father's and uncle's record collection.
He took up clarinet at age 9 and has been playing ever since. He also picked up both alto and tenor sax at age 13,
and has been playing baritone sax since age 30. After studying with members of Denver Symphony Orchestra, University
of Redlands and Stanford, he began performing professionally in 1992 and plays regular gigs around the Bay Area.
Dave Mihaly: Drums/Guitar/Bass
Dave has been teaching music for 31 years, in New York, New Jersey and California.
He received a B.A. in music theory and history and a B.A. in psychology from Drew University,
and studied drums and percussion privately in New York and San Francisco with Andrew Cyrille,
Barry Altschul, Zakir Hussain, Jack Van der Wyck and Richard Perrini.
He also plays piano, marimba and guitar. Mihaly has toured the U.S, Canada, Europe and the
South Seas and is featured on recordings by Iron & the Albatross, Jolie Holland, Sean Hayes,
After the End of the World Coretet, and his own Shimmering Leaves. His first string quartet
was played at U.C. Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technology and the
S.F. musician's union hall, and he has written for singers, jazz bands, dance bands, rock bands
and other idioms.
Mihaly taught music in New Traditions, the Video Drums Clinic, and though the auspices of the
S.F. Academy of Sciences. He has had hundreds of students from the ages of 3 through 70 and
learns much through his teaching practice.
More info: davemihaly.com
Photo: Andrew Carver
Blake Ritterman: Drums
Blake Ritterman is a San Diego-born, San Francisco-based freelance drummer and instructor. Blake studied Jazz Performance
and Philosophy at San Francisco State University. While in school he played in various original bands that played constantly
in the Bay Area, in addition to extensive touring of the States, Canada and Mexico. Upon graduation he continued pursuing
studies in drumming with private instruction from Jason Slota (Thao and the Get Down Stay Down/John Vanderslice), Josh Riskin
(Beach Blanket Babylon) and Akira Tana (Sonny Rollins).
Blake currently works with a number of Bay Area performers including The Love Gangsters, North Beach Brass Band, Ed Ivey,
Brass Band Mission, Big Blu Soul Revue, Kit Ruscoe and Drew Southern, and is the house drummer at two jam sessions hosted
at San Francisco's 50 Mason Social House.
Marissa Simmons: Voice/Piano/Violin
Originally from Chicago, Marissa Simmons is currently studying under Dr. Esther Jane Hardenbergh at the University
of Miami Frost School of Music where she recently performed in scenes as Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Tisbe
(La Cenerentola), Valetto (L'incorronatione di Poppea), and Cupid (Venus and Adonis by John Blow).
In recent summers she sang in scenes as Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia), Cenerentola (La Cenerentola),
La Natura (La Calisto), and la Maestra delle Novizie in the full production Suor Angelica, at the
Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute. She also did recent performances of popular Zarzuela scenes and the full production
of Suor Angelica as La Zelatrice with the Miami Summer Music Festival.
Marissa's latest performances have included Maria Callas in Michael Daugherty's Jackie O with Frost Opera Theatre,
Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with Chicago Summer Opera, in collaboration with Candid Concert Opera, Lucretia in
scenes from The Rape of Lucretia, and la Maestra delle Novizie in the Miami Lyric Opera's Suor Angelica
Not only is she an accomplished opera singer, but Simmons is also an emerging composer. She conducted the world premier
of one of her orchestral compositions in Austria when she was only 15. An active performer and composer, she loves to
collaborate on new works. In the Frost Opera Theatre's 2012-13 season, Simmons sang the role of the Third Spirit in Mozart's
Die Zauberflöte and the Soap Opera Director in the world premier of Dr. Charles Mason's Entanglements.
Simmons has been singing professionally since age 11.
Tim Switzer: Piano/Guitar/Bass/Drums
Tim is a South Bay native whose musical path has explored many diverse styles and traditions. Branching out from
classical piano training throughout his childhood, he opened his ears to jazz in middle school and rock in high school,
playing in jazz combos and rock bands alike. Thirsting for more, he enrolled in the Ethnomusicology program at
UCLA and explored many musical traditions from across the globe. Performing in Chinese, North Indian, Indonesian
and Middle Eastern ensembles, while continuing to study jazz, has molded him into the musician he is today.
Tim is a self-proclaimed "music theory nerd" who stresses the importance of understanding music as well as playing it.
Through theory and ear training (as well as teaching songs and technique), he tries to foster well-rounded musicians
who can adapt to playing in many environments and discover their own paths.
Andres Trujillo: Tuba/Bass
Trained in the idiom of classical orchestral playing, Andres is comfortable playing a multitude of genres and ensembles.
He has played with such noted groups as The Harvard Bach Society, Alea III Contemporary New Music Ensemble, The Hot Tamales Brass
Band, North Beach Brass Band, Brass Band Mission and the Patriot Brass Quintet. He has led masterclasses at University of
Massachusetts in Lowell and teachers students at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco.
Originally from Houston, Texas, Andres has spent time studying and performing around the United States and abroad.
Under the tutelage of Mike Roylance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he earned his Bachelors in tuba performance at
Boston University. Immediately after his studies in Boston he uprooted to San Francisco to study with Jeffrey Anderson of
the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
In 2010, Andres spent a semester in London studying at the Royal College of Music with Lee Tsarmakalis of the London
Philharmonic Orchestra and Owen Slade, an active London studio musician.
Andres is currently an active freelance musician and teacher in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. He is currently
playing and recording with Brass Band Mission and Bay Area Brass Band.