by KELLY GUSICH | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Rhythm in Rancho Peñasquitos

“Since before I could walk,” Rancho Peñasquitos resident Riley Conway remembered, “I would hold anything resembling a drumstick – crochet hooks, pencils, combs – and air drum or drum on anything I could.” The sixth grade Mesa Verde Middle School student received his first full drum set from his parents when he was only two, and he’s been striking up the band ever since.

When he was eight he would play open mic nights with a friend of his mom’s at UCSD Porter’s Pub. She then signed Riley up for the School of Rock (SOR), a local music school, where he eventually got to take part in shows in San Diego. “I performed in my first show in 2012 doing Jack White,” he said. “I have done a total of eight shows ranging from ska to Motown to classic rock. I have done a couple of songwriting camps as well over the summer.” His first drum teacher, Bob, along with Damon, his SOR drum teacher, are two of his biggest encouragements.


Riley’s favorite School of Rock performance was Led Zeppelin, not only because that is his favorite band, but he also takes inspiration from John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s drummer. This was his most memorable experience because, Riley explains, “I was the only drummer so I got to play the whole show except two of the songs.” Some of Riley’s best friends are from School of Rock, so four other members and he have formed an outside band.

Drumming is a big part of Riley’s life, but that’s not all he does. His favorite subject in school is science, because he likes to learn the interesting mysteries of earth. He likes video games, especially Destiny, nurturing a love of gaming inherited from his father. He also likes to write. “My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Jessup, really influenced me to be a better writer,” he explained. “I want to be an author or a pro gamer.”


Riley Conway is inspired by people who are of service to others, by his dad, “because he plays music too,” and by his mom “because she helps me keep on going.” As far as his talent and love for drumming, “I am not sure it would be a career, but I know it will always be a part of my life.”

student_conway02Meet Riley

Name: Riley Conway (12)
School: Mesa Verde Middle School
Grade: 6
Parents: Stacia Conway and Philippe Conway
Sibling: Tommy (3 months)
Favorite Places in 92129: Don Rio’s, Starbucks