“Music is really special because it can express emotion in a way that you do not need words to describe,” said first year computer engineering student Thomas Choboter.
Choboter lives in the yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls, and when he is not behind a computer screen, he is playing music. Musical passion has manifested in his family for generations.
After years of his dad asking him if he wanted to play the guitar, Choboter finally conceded in the fourth grade. His dad had mentioned the electric guitar that he used to play was waiting for Choboter at his grandparents’ house in Canada. This inspired Choboter to learn how to play.
“My family has always been really musical,” said Choboter. “My dad has been playing guitar and other musical instruments for as long as he can remember, and my grandmother did too before that. As a family, we have always had a music teaching environment, which I am really glad for because it led me to really pursue something that I enjoy.”
Looking not only to his grandmother and dad for inspiration, Choboter also notes the rock band Boston and the contemporary jazz artist Jacob Collier as his initial favorite artists. With time, his taste and appreciation for music have expanded.
“I got into pop punk because of its catchy lyrics, and it is really easy to sing along to and enjoy with friends,” said Choboter. “… An aspect of music that sometimes gets overlooked is performance. I also appreciate that element because it conveys just as much emotion as the melody.”
Motivated by the performance of well-known artists, Choboter decided to perform his own medley at his high school’s talent show in 2019.
“I got a group together, and we designed a medley of songs. It had to be under four minutes, so I had to very carefully design the drum track to be fast enough so that we could squeeze everything in,” said Choboter. “…In the years following, I started to get more into street performing. Once you have been street performing long enough, there is no stress, and stage fright does not exist anymore.”
This was the beginning of Choboter’s musical performances, and since being on campus, he has been able to foster his love of performing. By hosting mini concerts in his dorm room, on the yakʔitʸutʸu lawn or during the Thursday farmer’s market, Choboter finds time and space to play music for anyone interested in listening..
“I have been playing at farmer’s markets because that is where I am comfortable,” said Choboter. “It is a lot of fun because people walk by, and if they like the song that you are playing, they’ll stay and listen; at the same time, they are not obliged to stay and listen to the song. So you end up collecting some people that really enjoy your work, and then the other people move along…I really enjoy playing for those people and the people that want to listen.”
Part of what makes Choboter’s farmers’ experience so favorable is his ability to easily transport all his necessary musical equipment. Choboter has been collecting his gear for quite some time now, and has looper pedal— which allows him to record his music and then play over it in real time — a Roland cube amp, a microphone and both acoustic and electric guitars. His current focus is portability and convenience since he travels to any place necessary for him to play his music.
Apart from specific musical gear, Choboter also uses his computer to enhance his performances.
“There are a lot of applications of computers in music,” said Choboter. “It is often said that all musicians are mathematicians at heart, and a lot of what goes on in the computer is just mathematics. We can apply algorithms and alter sound with a computer. I thought about ways I can augment my own performance with computer algorithms and things that I write.”
Despite his dreams of making it big in the music industry, Choboter understands that it is a difficult market to get into. He enjoys writing code and working on algorithms, just like he enjoys playing music.
“Part of going to college is planning for contingencies,” said Choboter. “This means understanding that it is very unlikely that I am going to see the big times in music. But that is something that would be really fun for me. I am also happy sitting and writing code and designing algorithms. However, music is fun, and I would far rather take a job performing and working on music. I know that music is always going to be involved in my life, whether that is outside of my day job, or part of it.”