If you could do anything in life, what would it be?
Tommy began studying piano at age 20, following a major life epiphany. He showed remarkable commitment and talent, taking his first music jobs within six months and entering the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College (State University of New York) within one year. There, he completed a B.A. in Liberal Studies: Arts, with a minor in Piano, and the following year obtained Performer's Certificate in Piano Performance. He studied with Stephanie Brown.
He began his career teaching piano in the fall of 2013, and finds great fulfillment in working with students of all ages. He has held numerous positions as a church pianist, assistant music director or pianist for theater shows, and spends his summers working as Camp Director at Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in New Hampshire.
In 2016, Tommy left New York to participate in a six-month artist residency at the Miranda Green Piece Project in Palo Alto, CA. There he made his home and still resides. He currently studies with Elizabeth Swarthout in Berkeley, CA.
I grew up in the beautiful San Juan Islands in the Northwest corner of Washington state. That environment instilled in me an appreciation for living in a world of beauty--something that piano plays a huge role in today.
When I began my university studies, I was endlessly conflicted about what to specialize in. Looking back, some of the most influential courses I took were: Geology, Astronomy, Folk Dance, English Literature, and Sociology of Communities. Faced with so many interesting things to study, how was I to choose just one?
In 2009, I took a break from college to move to Upstate New York, helping a couple who had just adopted five special needs children from and abusive foster home in Bronx, NY. This is when my real education began, and I was taught through experience about the human condition.
During this time, when I was twenty years old, I asked myself the question, "If I could do anything in life, what would it be?" The answer was surprising to me, but definitive. In that moment of clarity, I knew I wanted to play the piano. Not only did I want to play the piano, I wanted to play the great masterpieces of the musical repertoire.
At the time, I was only playing on a rudimentary level. Aspiring to go from where I was then to where I am now was a nearly insurmountable goal, but I was relentless. For several years, I poured all my energy into learning this instrument, and reaped huge rewards. I was the epitome of discipline in my studies, allowing me to progress quickly, giving me the rewards of music making, which fueled me to continue working hard. The cycle continues.
It didn't take long before I was accepted into the Music Conservatory at SUNY Purchase in Westchester County, New York. I completed my undergraduate studies in the academic arena, getting a degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Piano. I stayed for an additional year to strengthen my studies in music, completing a Performer's Certificate in Piano Performance.
At Purchase College, I worked with the reputable piano pedagogue, Stephanie Brown. From this exceptional teacher, I not only learned many sophisticated aspects of piano playing, but also how to teach. I continue to work with her on visits to New York City.