It’s hardly unusual to change your major or your future career plans while you’re in college. You might realize that you simply aren’t as passionate about a subject as you thought, or you might just discover a new passion altogether. For Tommy Wagner ‘17, it’s more of the latter.
Now finishing up his final semester at Cornell, Tommy has decided to make a significant shift in his post-graduation plans. He’ll be graduating from Cornell this month with a degree in Biological Sciences, and leaving behind a legacy as an equally impressive hitter and infielder for the Big Red baseball team. And yet, despite his accomplished batting average and his impressive MCAT scores, he’s not planning to go pro, or planning to go to med school after graduation — at least not yet.
Going forward, Tommy has his eyes set on something different. Rather than following his initial plans of going on to medical school after graduation, Tommy is looking to hit a homerun in the country music capital of the world: Nashville, Tennessee.
While music had been a hobby of his for several years, it only recently grew into a full-fledged passion. The foundations were set last semester, when Tommy filled out his schedule with several Music courses. That same semester, he was also accepted into Cornell’s all-male choir, and one of Cornell’s premier a cappella groups, The Chordials. These experiences led Tommy to start thinking more critically about where he saw he his future taking him.
The more that he thought about it, the more he realized that this was a chance that he had to take. “It’s one of those things that I want to say I went for” he explained. “I don’t want to look back in 10 or 20 years and wonder ‘what if?’. Music is such an important and integral part of my life and I want to wake up every day knowing that I have the opportunity to keep playing.”
When he made the decision to postpone his med school plans for music, Tommy was met with mixed reactions. “I’ve been told that this path is too uncertain, too stressful, and that I should just stick with the straight-and-narrow. On the other hand, I have gotten so many encouraging and positive reactions about pursuing my dream,” he says. Still, he remains dedicated to his ambitions and rests easy knowing that regardless of their initial reactions, his friends and family will support him 100 percent.
In the near-future, Tommy will be heading into the studio to record his first acoustic demo. Beyond a collection of various acoustic covers, he’s arranged some 20-plus original songs that span the genres of folk, rock, and country music. In writing these songs, he has been able to find inspiration from his own experiences, and that of others. Ultimately, his songs revolve the human experience. “Love, sadness, anger, family, friends, you name it — the things that I and everyone else confront on a daily basis.”
In the end, Tommy realizes that the music he makes isn’t just for him. “To me, it’s all about telling a story that people can hold on to,” he says, “I want my music to be accessible for anyone who needs to hear the story it tells or just needs a little musical pick-me-up to get them through the day.”
After he finishes school and finishes recording his demo, he’ll be packing his bags and making his way to Nashville. “From there, it’s music all the way.” While acknowledging that he doesn’t know exactly where life will take him in the next few years, he does know it will be a time of personal growth, and the uncertainty doesn’t faze him.
“I couldn’t have told you a year ago that this would be the direction my life would take me, but now I couldn’t be happier and more certain in my decision. The mystery excites me, and I cannot wait to take the next step forward.”
Over the next few days, Tommy will be making a number of performances in the Ithaca area. Catch him next at The Range, on May 10th, from 8-11 PM. Follow his page, Tommy Wagner Music, for more updates.