Tom Volpato ’23 Shares His Self-discovery through Music

“It feels like a dream — a dream seeing my album on Apple Music — on the same platform where all my favorite albums are,” shares sophomore Tom Volpato.

His debut album, entitled “Young Fascinations,” can also be found on Dwight’s own 566 Records, providing access not only to Apple Music, but also to other platforms wherever listeners stream music!

Tom is one of the musicians who helped to found 566 Records, our student-run record label and website named for the location of our recording studio on Columbus Avenue, and “Young Fascinations” is the latest project in the 566 spotlight. His work on the album began when he was in ninth grade and shared some lyrics he had written with Eric Novod, Head of Performing Arts. “Mr. Novod was working one-on-one with all of us in class to see what our interests in music were and how he could help each of us develop our skills and talents. He taught me that there’s no one way to write songs, meaning that the lyrics can come first or the melody can, as long as it comes from your heart and is based on your musical intent,” Tom explains.

He continues: “Mr. Novod also taught me about different song structures, how to create melodies and harmonies within the key I chose for any given song, and more. His help was so incredibly invaluable throughout the whole process.”

"Tom is a deep thinker and a talented multi-instrumentalist. In my experiences, that combination of skills often yields original songwriters,” says Mr. Novod. “After learning some new harmony, vocal, and production techniques, Tom took the ball and completely ran with it. My only goal was for Tom to create well-crafted songs that he felt confident about, whether that was one or five songs. But when true inspiration hits, amazing things happen! I encourage everyone to spend some time with this material. Tom has a lot to say and created some beautiful music with which to say it." 

Growing into His Spark of Genius
Music has always been in the air for Tom, who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where his father is a well-known professional musician. Before he knew it, Tom was playing a range of instruments by the age of five and soon discovered that his favorite was drums. He took lessons for eight years and played in school bands, as well as in his own group, whose name translates to “Contact” in English. They performed covers by Brazilian rock bands and even won a few battle of the bands before Tom and his family moved to New York.

That’s when Tom joined Dwight as a sixth grader. He played the drums in our own Middle School battle of the bands. He also performed a David Bowie song on stage, singing for the first time and recalls that he didn’t feel confident, but was inspired to improve to pursue music. It was around that time that Tom’s father bought a guitar and Tom taught himself how to play it as well as how to play the piano, earning him a spot playing electric guitar on the Carnegie Hall stage for one of our cross-campus global concerts. 
 
Tom shares that when he turned 15, he realized that music was always his spark of genius and he couldn’t live without it — he wanted to do his absolute best to keep learning and growing. “I felt that music was the way I could express myself naturally and I began the process of creating ‘Young Fascinations’ from scratch as I didn’t have any experience recording or using music software. It took me two years and a lot of encouragement, both in and out of School, to feel comfortable enough with my production process to share it with other people. Everything came together naturally, and I feel like, since the beginning, my thoughts about discovering my identity grew until I started turning them into music. It is a way I found to say something to myself first, and it has always been like this; I believe that everyone has something to take away from other people's self-discoveries. I wanted to create the most genuine expression of myself with this process, so I would never forget who I am or where I've come from. In other words, I tried to condense my emotions into something I was proud of and this is how I created this album.”

While Tom’s primary instrument is drums, he decided not to play them on the album “to make it sound emotionally raw and intimate … the album was built around layering the guitar and vocals.” 

While music has certainly occupied most of Tom’s free time, he has also participated in Dwight’s Unicef Club, taken karate, and plays tennis. In the classroom, in addition to music, Tom enjoys English, history, and design because that’s where “I can think abstractly and not have to know specific answers to questions; we can have a variety of answers and bring different perspectives.” 

As the end of this year approaches, Tom plans to head to Sao Paolo for the summer to study music theory, improve his instrumental techniques, and think about what’s next. After completing “Young Fascinations,” a labor of love, he wants to see what new life experiences await him before inspiration strikes again for album number two. 

Whenever that time comes, we’ll certainly be eager to hear and enjoy it!