Tom Stroll started writing music at 10 and songs at 13.
His grade school music teacher, Mary Fike, let him sit for hours at the classroom macintosh and play with a music notation software called, Finale. This resulted in the school band performance of Tom’s first instrumental piece, a march called, Fanfare.
Tom’s dad played the same Clapton and Beatles tunes and his mom played the same Hanon piano exercises over and over throughout his childhood. They had an extensive record collection which included: Stan Getz, The Steve Miller Band, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, and some Classical standards (Mozart and Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite)
Middle School marked a shift away from sports and becoming serious about music. Marie Shimchick, the former director of the Eastmen boys choir, was hugely inspiring in that regard.
Involvement in the Stamford Young Artists program, and with all the violin lessons he was taking, looking up tabs online and learning guitar by ear followed naturally. Before owning guitars, he and friend Justin Horton got jobs at local Kerr’s Village pharmacy to earn enough money to buy gear and meet girls.
Between running the cash register and cleaning toilets, Tom would sketch storyboards for the music videos he had in his head for the songs they created together.
Tom’s dad bought him a ProTools MBox so he could record his first songs at 13. His first recording on protools sounded like an Emo version of “Strawberry Fields” with a gregorian chant hook.
So Tom and Justin started a band called, Nothing To Hide which wrote and rehearsed weekly, but never performed. So from early on, Songwritng, Recording/Producing and meeting girls were priority.
After ‘quitting’ violin–having since picked it back up to teach in Greenwich, CT–Most of his high school years, Tom focused on Jazz Band and Jazz theory where drill seargant band director, John S. Yoon paired him with private jazz sax instructor, Will Vinson whose other (better) student, Jeff Schneider–repeat winner of the ASCAP young Jazz Composer’s award–became Tom’s new collaborator in their Jazz/Funk/Fusion combo, Cejura. Tom and Jeff ended up directing and arranging the band for the senior play.
Tom got an internship at a TV (post-)production house where he co-produced a TV show pilot and wrote the theme music. The show was never picked up, but it opened the door for Tom’s music in other projects.
Still, Tom wasn’t thrilled by the movies he was asked to set his music to. So he decided to participate in the storytelling by teaming up with filmmaker Ernest Zahn when Ernie brought his Super8 camera into school one day.
Tom wrote and recorded music for Ernie’s film, Wolf in the Fold, which won a short film festival in Budapest.
They grew close and Ernie suggested that they hone their shooting/editing skills by co-producing concert and promo videos for Tom’s brother’s band, The States–fronted by Chris Snyder of Ace Reporter. They even helped make the band’s first music video, directed by Phil Hodges.
These early concert videos set the stage for Tom and Ernie’s collaboration on Charlie Christ.
But the film was already underway before Tom came into the picture. Ernie and the late Igor Zhukovsky, had already been writing a series of sketches for a comedy film called, Niente Peaches, 2 hours of which they shot almost entirely before throwing it out …woops!–a couple sketches survived and became the foundation of what is now “Charlie Christ: The Gospel According to Fools”; NPeaches is now the name of Ernie’s Non-Profit Media and Arts group–Tom and Ernie took the surviving scenes and developed a single overarching plot that tied them together in their debut feature film set for 2015 release.
Perhaps because of a self-diagnosed, mild dyslexia, Tom was pretty good at picking up new instruments by ear, but he was never fond of or proficient at practicing scales or reading the repertoire, so when his technical/performance skills plateaued toward the end of high school he picked up piano and started focusing on composing/arranging and less on performance.
Facing financial hardships of their own–namely, the foreclosure of Tom’s childhood home, which he later dramatizes in the upcoming, animated musical–his parents urged Tom to be a doctor to have job security and health insurance. So when it came time to apply for college, Tom applied pre-med and was rejected from 9 of 11 schools he applied to, including NYU where he was later accepted when he reapplied as a Music Composition student and got in.
On the first day at Steinhardt Tom felt like he really belonged for the first time among his fellow composers.
It really felt like studying at Hogwarts, especially in conducting class.
Fordham vs. NYU
Meeting ionie in the practice rooms
when are you gonna produce me?
I’m busy with movie but always said yes to projects at the time
Started as an EP. needed band andorch instr
before I knew it I had 5 jobs
in 2014 I got crippling carpel tunnel
needed to work smarter not harder.
focused on one project at a time and started finishing stuff.
ionie’s album is out and now all of my free time is dedicated to the movie.
occasionally takes 1-2 day long free lance commitments, but mostly turning down or passing along all work that is not entertainment related