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Of Note with Mike Kowaleski

October 16, 2018

Of Note with Michael Kowaleski

What would any musical ensemble be without a rhythm section? Michael Kowaleski makes up one half of the group as the snare drum and drum set teacher at Wausau Conservatory, a task he has enjoyed since 1989.

His craft has always been part of his life, studying percussion at the Wisconsin Conservatory College in Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, on to Stranger Percussion Studios of Chicago, then Dorn and Kirchner’s Percussion School in New York. Throughout these years he received private instruction from such artists as Al Prafke, Bobby Koska, Phillip Stranger Tele Lesbines and the world renowned drum set virtuoso, Joe Morello.

These educational experiences led him to studio musician work in Indianapolis with Wolftracs/Pepper productions for commercial work and soundtrack experiences with RCA Studios in Chicago. An aficionado of traditional and smooth jazz, Mr. Kowaleski had opportunity to perform with such greats as Darius Brubeck, Warren Wiegratz from “Oceans”, Daryl Stuermer currently with Phil Collins, Phil Upchurch formerly with the Quincy Jones Band, and Tom Baker with the band “Chicago”. He has also worked with such bands as The Tokens, The Drifters, The Coasters, Jack Jones, Robin Lee, Sylvia St. James – a singer with Stevie Wonder, and the late Del Shannon. He cites his current musical influences to be guitarist Michael Garvin, along with Dave Grusin and Bob James. But this was not the beginning. In high school, his band actually got to tour with the “Rolling Stones”.

Mr. Kowaleski carries his passion for his craft into the classroom. For over 10 years, he worked with the Milwaukee Public Schools, the Wisconsin Conservatory College and Cascio School of Music in Milwaukee before coming to Wausau Conservatory. Many of his students have won high honors for their work including the distinguished Woody Herman Scholarship Award. He “My students mean the world to me,” he states. “I get so excited for them when they get into that drummer’s groove.”

When not holding drum sticks, Mr. Kowaleski can be found holding a golf club or fishing pole to relax.