Thomas Cooper's musical gifts began around the age of three, when he was introduced to the piano. His music progression took him through wind instruments, to strings and now to the latest craze of electronic music, which he produces when he's not attending classes and playing tennis.
In Carnegie Mellon, the sophomore found an academic path at the cutting edge of a field he loves, as well as a nationally recognized tennis program.
With a major in business and a minor in music and technology, Cooper has been able to maintain his study of music and spin it in his own direction of what is known as Electro House.
"All of my music begins with piano or guitar," said Cooper. "I apply music theory, counterpoint, harmony and different methods of composing when writing electronic music like you would if writing a classical piece, which is the base of the music and technology program. So I spin it on my own time."
Prior to discovering electronic music, Cooper spent seven years engulfed in the guitar, beginning when he was selected for the classical guitar program at his middle school, which he considers to be one of the luckiest, most beneficial things that could have happened for him.
Like most things you spend all your time on, you can get burned out and need a change. For Cooper, that change came as he entered Carnegie Mellon.
"I got burned out pouring over classical scores, trying to build the song over how you think it should sound," said Cooper. "There isn't much playing until the end and I wanted to go straight to the music."
The burnout and the unfortunate incident of losing his voice, along with the timing of the electronic craze, brought Cooper to where his passion lies today.
"At one point I was more passionate about being an acoustic musician," Cooper recalls. "My voice isn't as strong as it used to be, which is disappointing, but producing electronic music has me even more excited and something I want to make my career."
Cooper would like to follow the footsteps of artists such as Porter Robinson and Madeon, both of whom have made it to the largest stage and regularly play in front of crowds approaching 100,000 people, but Cooper knows you have to have a good product and get a little lucky.
Carnegie Mellon could help with that, as networking is all part of the business, and Cooper will have more opportunities to get his music out there while DJing events on campus.
"You never know who you might get in front of when having the opportunity to play," Cooper said. "I feel everyone here wants everyone to succeed. I have to start somewhere and build a buzz."
While Cooper spends his "off-hours" producing new tunes, he spends a lot of his time practicing and playing tennis for the Tartans, where he excels on the doubles court.
"My strength in is doubles because of my serve and volley," Cooper said. "The serve is so important in doubles because it's hard to return to one half of the court. A lot of times the return goes straight to the player at the net who can put it away. If your serve gets broken, you're most likely going to lose the match.
"Doubles comes naturally to me," added Cooper. "There is a very specific movement you need for doubles, it's kind of instinctual. I know the right place to go at the right time."
Last season, Cooper earned All-UAA first-team honors after winning all three of his No. 2 doubles matches at the University Athletic Association Championships. This year, he's poised to continue the success as the team strives for national glory.