May 23, 2012 - While many teens are in front of the TV with their videogame controllers, Tyler Eschendal is in front of his piano or computer composing music.
Tyler Eshendal is going to school to for music composition. (click for larger version)
Eschendal, a Lake Orion High School senior began composing his own music in his freshman year and for the past two years has been taking composition lessons through Oakland University.
"I started with ensembles that were like 17 instruments, but then I decided that I needed to take a step in the other direction and focus on smaller ensembles that I could really express myself on each instrument," he said. "I've always been someone who's kind of interested in doing my own thing musically."
He recently performed one of the songs he wrote "Lucky You" on the vibraphone along with his friend Conner Sweeny on the alto saxophone at the opening ceremonies for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.
"That was really, really fun," added Eschendal.
Along with the piano, he's played percussion for eight years as well as a little bass guitar. At the high school he's been involved in marching band, concert band, winter drumline, wind ensembles, and Jazz band.
"The high school has opened up a lot of different opportunities for me musically that have certainly shaped the way I see music and I do music," he said. "I've always had the opportunity to have my pieces I write, done by highly trained musicians. That has been extremely helpful to kind of here my music being done by other people."
When starting to write a piece, Eshendal says he starts with a theme he's been hearing in his head and will start playing around with it on his piano. From there he grabs a piece of paper and handwrites half of the piece, something he says is becoming less and less common. From there he transitions the handwritten notes into a computer program.
"The whole thing is like a circle," he said. "It starts out in your mind, goes to your hands on an instrument, goes to a piece of paper, and then goes to software. Then you hand it to the musicians and now it's in your head again, but now you can actually hear it live."
Eschendal said being able to print the music out from the computer program makes the music nice and readable for the musicians.
"That's probably the most rewarding thing," he said. "Hearing all of your hard work making sense and sounding like you wanted it to about five months ago."
His love for music came at an early age, from his grandparents who exposed him to music and the arts. His grandmother was a dance teacher. He said that gave him a solid foundation and respect for the arts, which made him fall in love with the performance aspect of music, but composing brought on a new aspect.
"It was this whole new emotion I had, where everything that was written down on the staff line, I thought of and I sculpted into something I wanted it to be," he said. "This whole new feeling of ownership was really neat and I liked how I can use it as a way to vent or a form of expression to how I feel or how I want to feel."
After graduation, Eschendal will be heading to Ohio to study composition at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinatti.
"I'm so thankful I was accepted because it's a very highly regarded school," he said. "I'm extremely excited to start this whole new experience."
Eschendal said there is a lot a composer can do whether it be writing for film, TV, orchestras, ensembles, or being a professor at a university.
"I would honestly be happy with any of that, as long as it involves me writing my own music," he said "That's the thing I'm most interested in."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.