Hearing the opening lines of Kanye West’s song “Touch The Sky,” an immediate and electrifying response bubbles up in Jet Tober ’23 – within seconds his head begins to bob, his eyes close in concentration and it hums softly along the tune. This passion for music began over 13 years ago – when Tober was 3 years old – and today he continues this interest by participating in various ensembles as well as composing and producing his own music.
“When I was 3, I went to a hotel and sat at a piano in the hotel lobby,” Tober said. “I was just jingling the keys and played two notes that sounded good. I wanted to relearn how to do that. »
Tober is a member of the Staples Jazz Band (piano), the Symphony Orchestra (cello) and the Orphenians. He began private piano study at age five, learned the cello in fourth grade, and sang for as long as he can remember. Immersed in music all his life, Tober began to develop an interest in music composition and production – independent of performance in an ensemble or as a soloist – when he was in third grade.
“I would hear melodies in my head and wish I could play them,” Tober said. “I wanted to translate them into something that I could experience and other people could experience.”
In pursuit of this goal, Tober decided to familiarize himself with a variety of genres and composers, such as Leonard Bernstein, Mozart, and jazz music. He experimented with GarageBand before buying Logic, a more advanced production software.
Initially overwhelmed with Logic’s features, Tober spent time watching tutorials and reading the help guide to better understand its functions. As a beginner, he started by making simple beats, and after improving his abilities, Tober began to imitate other artists’ songs. Eventually, through practice and research, Tober began composing his own tunes, including classical, hip hop, jazz fusion, rock, and rap. After creating a composition, he likes to share it with his classmates.
“At various points in my school career when there has been a plan to create something, I normally choose a default song because I like the production aspect of it – it just makes me have fun” , Tober said. “Honestly the songs are catchy and they help you remember the concepts. A lot of [composing/producing] is for personal enjoyment and for the enjoyment of friends and family.
Zach Brody ’23 remembers listening to one of Tober’s songs during class this year.
“I heard his song ‘Unit P’ in my WTP (We the People) class,” Brody said. “It was actually crazy – like so good. It was a rendition of ‘push P'[by Gunna and Future] with its WTP unit as its theme.
Tober believes that the majority of his inspiration for songwriting and production lies in his love for jazz, and he often incorporates jazz-like characteristics into his pieces.
“[Jazz] has that element of surprise you can add by painting [the music] with different colored notes, like when you’re improvising or just playing unique chord progressions in general,” Tober said. “For me, it’s the most expressive genre […] You use what you’ve learned and apply it, but it’s not pre-planned – you feel in the moment and [creating] whatever looks good to you.
Band and jazz manager Philip Giampietro acknowledged Tober’s role as a pianist in the Jazz Band.
“[Tober] plays improvised solos on some songs,” Giampietro said, “where he interprets new melodies on the spot.
Tober’s involvement with other Staples ensembles has helped him better understand and appreciate the role of different instruments/elements.
“From [Orphenians], you understand the role the voice plays, and from the orchestra you understand the role the strings play,” Tober said. “And in case there’s a full ensemble – with band, choir and orchestra – that’s really cool because I can relate to what [each] party is doing.
Ultimately, Tober believes in the transformative power of music and knows it will always be a part of his life, even if he doesn’t yet know what his musical path holds.
“By manipulating air molecules [while playing an instrument]you can change people’s emotions – you can make them euphoric, relaxed or sad […] It’s like magic,” Tober said. “I just enjoyed [music] too much not to always be part of my life. How far I’m going to proceed, I’m honestly not sure. But I will always enjoy it and it will always be something I have, anytime, anywhere.