Jackpot! Nathaniel Pigott: Beatboxer, fiddler, world traveler


Photo by Mona Mirpour

When senior Nathaniel Pigott was in middle school, he and his dad watched “The Sing-Off” on television together. During one of the songs, Pigott began to sing. Not for long, though. His dad told him his adolescent voice singing along with one of the top a capella groups in the country wasn’t as beautiful as he might’ve thought.

“I was like, ‘Well my career is ruined. This is unsustainable,’” Pigott said. “And so I was like, ‘I can’t sing, obviously. What onscreen might be my other options?’ And there were singers in these a capella groups and there were beatboxers in these a capella groups, so I was like, ‘If I can’t sing, looks like my only other option is to beatbox.’ ”

After learning how to beatbox by watching YouTube videos and practicing, Pigott said beatboxing became a great party trick. During the Harlem Shake craze, he learned how to beatbox the main beat and do the synth sound effects. Everyone was always in awe.

“Anyone can learn to beatbox well,” Pigott said. “People are like, ‘There’s no way I’ll ever be good at beatboxing,’ but it just takes practice and watching YouTube videos. That’s all it took for me.”

Pigott is now the beatboxer for the Trinitones, Trinity’s all-male a capella group. According to him, the Trinitones was a big factor in choosing Trinity over Rice University when he visited both campuses.

“At those acceptance days, both had a capella groups perform for us and both of the a capella groups performed [‘Our Own House’],” Pigott said. “They performed the exact same song. And the Trinitones did it way better, so I was like, ‘I want to go to a university with a real a capella group,’ so that was legitimately part of my decision process.”

In addition to his involvement with the Trinitones, Pigott also plays violin in the Trinity Symphonic Orchestra. He was classically trained before coming to college, but he actually had most experience from being in a fiddle group where he danced and fiddled simultaneously.

“You would be standing up, your music’s memorized, you’re dancing and fiddling,” Pigott said. “It was super fun. I can’t dance anymore, but I can play the little fiddle tunes. If anyone needs fiddle, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will hook you up with some fiddle music.”

Pigott is a Chinese major with computer science and history minors. He said playing the fiddle was one of the paths that led him to studying Chinese.

“My first actual trip to China was with the fiddle group,” Pigott said. “We did a little tour in China with several other high school groups, and so that was some exposure. That was music exposing me to the world. Apart from that, I just enjoy playing music, enjoy listening to music. I don’t know if it has much effect on me philosophically other than I just think music is cool and that people should learn to play because it’s fun.”

Last semester, Pigott was able to delve deeper into Chinese by studying abroad in Taiwan. He took all Chinese classes there and also traveled to Japan and Vietnam.

“I traveled, I met people, I had roommates from everywhere,” Pigott said. “I stayed in something called a borderless house which the philosophy is basically half the tenants are from Taiwan and half the tenants are foreigners, so I had Belgian roommates and Japanese roommates and everyone was in and out all the time.”

Originally, Pigott had wanted to be a linguistics major, but over time, he grew closer to Chinese and Chinese history, specifically.

“The professor who’s had the most influence on me is definitely Dr. Tam in the history department,” Pigott said. “She’s the East Asian history professor and basically my life goal is to become Dr. Tam. Just [taking] Dr. Tam’s job is the life goal because she’s made history seem really cool.”

In the future, Pigott wants to teach. Currently, he is a writing center tutor and he is applying to multiple scholarships such as the Critical Language Scholarship to possibly open a door to teach in a Chinese-speaking country. He said his love of teaching stems from having many amazing teachers throughout his education and the joy he gets from helping others.

“People know so much more than they think they do and people are so much more capable than they think they are, and so teaching to me is all about teasing that out of other people,” Pigott said. “I just really enjoy the process of watching people have that realization.”