Encinitas teen plays solo guitar recital
When people look back at the life of 17-year-old Kevin Wylot of Encinitas, it may force a change to one of the English language’s oldest figures of speech.
Rather than “Jack of all trades,” the phrase could be forever become “Kevin of all trades.”
Wylot, a recent graduate of San Dieguito Academy, played his first solo recital as a classical guitarist on June 26. He said it went well, even though it’s a wonder he even has time to practice.
The Encinitas native since birth also builds drones from scratch, has built two electric guitars, is an amateur photographer, teaches classes as a summer camp counselor at La Jolla Country Day, is about to earn his Eagle Scout rank, plays high-level ice hockey and rides a motorcycle, all while posting a 3.6 GPA.
Young for his grade, Wylot will leave for college at the prestigious Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York before he even turns 18. At the school, which is touted as the nation’s oldest technological research university, he’ll major in mechanical engineering with a concentration in aeronautics and expects to play for the school’s club hockey.
He’ll also look to continue to play guitar — RPI has a strong music program — as it’s something he’s loved doing since he picked up the instrument at the age of 7. Of Wylot’s 10 years playing guitar, nine of them have been as a member of the Encinitas Guitar Orchestra, where he’s learned from director Peter Pupping, who Wylot said has been a huge influence.
Though Wylot could see himself playing at coffee shops or weddings throughout his life, he wanted to take the opportunity to play at his own recital before heading off to college later this summer.
“It was really just for my piece of mind, doing a final concert before I leave because I don’t know what path I’m going to take with guitar after I leave college,” he explained. “So it was great to be able to play all of the pieces that I know really well.”
At the hourlong show, Wylot performed 15 songs without a hitch for a crowd of about 50 people. He played one duo with Pupping and five of his fellow musicians from the Encinitas Guitar Orchestra joined him on stage to perform another song.
“It went great. There were more people than I expected,” Wylot said. “I raised a lot of money for college and expenses.”
While there are a lot of his peers playing guitar, Wylot likes the fact that his focus is on a more challenging, less popular genre.
“Playing classical guitar is special,” he said. “I know a lot of people that play electric or steel-string and stuff like that … and they all play the same songs. I’ve only met one other person (my age) who plays classical guitar. It’s extremely hard and a lot more focused on the details, which I like.”
But despite all of that focus on guitar, Wylot also finds time for other activities. He’s played hockey for La Jolla Country Day’s varsity team and club programs such as the San Diego Gulls, the Oilers and the Jaguars.
He used to build drones as a business, but now it’s just a personal hobby.
“I’ve just always loved doing stuff, doing projects,” Wylot said. “I build drones pretty seriously, they are like $6,000 or $8,000 drones. I do everything on them, the programming, which is a huge part of it, and just building everything, there are a lot of parts.”
After college, Wylot wants to move back to the area that he’s spent his whole life and get a job as an engineer, with one caveat:
“If I get drafted into the NHL, I would definitely do that, but I doubt it.”