Tyler Nadeau with music students

Tyler Nadeau ’24 says he was only a so-so trumpet player when he entered Salem (NH) High School, yet his instructor enticed him to join the marching band that fall. Shortly after, a position in the tuba line opened up and Nadeau was convinced to march with the massive brass instrument instead. Nadeau didn’t know how to play the tuba at first, though; so, he simply carried it, and marched along. He got a kick out of that.

Now, the senior music education major is so skilled on tuba he was asked to perform with the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra during its holiday concert last December. The month before, he was named one of four winners in the Symphony New Hampshire 100th Anniversary Student Composition Contest and, this semester, he is leading band and choir at Winnisquam Regional High School as a student teacher.

“I can’t imagine not making music,” Nadeau says. “I’m not sure I’m religious, but if there’s a God, he definitely put me here to do this.”

Communicates with music

Easygoing, self-deprecating, and amusing, Nadeau is also highly motivated. He says he doesn’t communicate too well with words, preferring music instead. Tuba is still his main instrument. “I can make noises on other instruments,” he adds with a laugh.

 Making music with others is a major draw for Nadeau because it brings people together, allowing them to experience each other’s work, and produce something in community. “I like understanding how others have created music. I love that music can speak better than words in some cases. I like that not everybody likes the same music. Even though music can be drastically different around the world and across cultures, there’s a common thread about music you can find everywhere.”

Nadeau’s dream job is teaching music theory to college students and composing his own music, and he says he grows as an artist through feedback from others—both the negative and positive.

What he enjoyed most about winning the Symphony New Hampshire contest, for instance, were the “brilliant” recommended changes to add texture that he received from the conductor and the viola and violin players.

Composing, competing

Tyler Nadeau

 Nadeau learned about the contest a year ago from his professor, Dr. Jonathan Santore. “I was intimidated but thought it would be good for my development as a person and my composing,” Nadeau says.

Along with 11 other students from three other colleges in the state, Nadeau submitted a 90-second audio recording of his own composition, which he created using a software program that allows him to select virtual instrumentation; he also submitted a PDF of his score. At a session in November 2023, the symphony played each submission. “It was one of the coolest experiences of my life,” Nadeau says. “They sight-read my piece of music perfectly.”

In December 2023, Nadeau learned he was one of four winners and had until February to develop a three- to four-minute piece, incorporating the professional musicians’ feedback and expanding on his concept. Symphony New Hampshire will combine all four winners’ longer compositions in an April 20 performance at Nashua’s Keefe Center for the Arts.

Knowing he will apply to grad school for composition and that three recorded compositions will be required, Nadeau feels well ahead of the competition. “I have an orchestral work premiered and performed by wonderful musicians,” he says, noting he is grateful to Dr. Santore and Plymouth State for inspiring him.

Led by a friend

Back in high school, in his junior year, Nadeau met his now girlfriend, Ana Pelchat ’24, in AP Music Theory class, and she mentioned she planned to audition on flute at Plymouth State. Nadeau decided to do so as well, on tuba.

While serving as president of the campus chapter of the National Association for Music Education for a year, Nadeau has mostly focused on his classes, practicing tuba and trying his hand at flute, piano, sax, bassoon, and many other instruments. He says the highlight of his PSU career was building relationships with his musical peers: Colby Klein ’24, a composer; Delia Berowitz ’24, a flutist; Laura Nadeau ’24, a flutist (who is not related to him); Lily Rousseau ’24, a bass player; and Pelchat.

“They are the number one greatest thing I’ve gained at PSU,” Nadeau says, adding that his professors also kept him invested and engaged. “Without Dr. Jonathan Santore, I wouldn’t be doing this at all. He’s my greatest mentor, and he pushes me along when I need it.”