Photo by: UC San Diego Athletics

Finding Harmony: How Justin Tahmassebpur Balances His Passions for Music and Rowing

UC San Diego

Related Links

LA JOLLA, Calif. – For many student-athletes, much of their time while growing up was spent participating in the sport that they love. For Justin Tahmassebpur of the UC San Diego men’s rowing team though, things went a little differently. Rowing is a recent interest of his, and he is learning how to balance it with his lifelong passion: music.

“I’ve always been a musician,” Tahmassebpur recalls. “I started playing piano when I was 3 ½, composing music five or six years ago, and producing music three years ago.”

Athletics were hardly a part of Tahmassebpur’s life prior to college. He ran track for a year at De La Salle High School, but was more focused on his musical pursuits. The pianist began learning how to produce music in a style much different from his personal favorite.

“I started out producing rap music because that’s how you learn producing in general,” Tahmassebpur recollected. “Eventually, once I became good at that, I was able to move on to what I’m passionate about, like the style of music by Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire." 

Tahmassebpur also compares his musical style to that of Bruno Mars’ most recent album, 24K Magic. He is inspired by the album’s production quality and stylistic approaches.

“It has that 80s vibe, with the funk and the synth that sounds retro, so I decided to get into producing that kind of stuff,” he said. “Eventually I was able to make funky music.”

Tahmassebpur knew that he wanted to continue to make music a priority while at UC San Diego, even on top of the demands of being an Engineering Physics major, but another activity caught his attention as well.

“When I came here I was already into music and wanted to pursue that as a side career as well as engineering, but when I got here I met one of the guys on the rowing team, Wes Reynolds, at orientation,” Tahmassebpur remembers. “He told me a bit about rowing and I found it interesting… I was like ‘Okay, I’ll try it out.’ I didn’t have any large passion for the sport before I did it. Then I started doing it and it became pretty interesting and I started to like it.”

The sophomore admits that it has not been easy adding another commitment to his workload.

“Last year, we had to wake up at 4 a.m. for rowing practice at 5 a.m.,” he recalls. “I had to spend every minute of my day doing schoolwork, and in my free time I’d produce music. I was working really hard all of the time. It was honestly the hardest time in my life by far, but it taught me how to manage my time well. Now I don’t procrastinate at all.”

Time management is a valuable skill for Tahmassebpur to have, as he expects the balancing act to be something that is always a part of his life.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I think that music will be more of a big side project because I want to be an engineer,” he said about his future. “Hopefully I can make both of them equal in terms of weight in my life.”

Despite a demanding path on the way to pursuing his dreams, Tahmassebpur is adamant that he would not change any part of his college experience.

“I definitely think it is all worth it,” he said. “I don’t regret rowing. I don’t regret spending time with my music. I’m still close to my friends... I honestly do not have any regrets taking this on for myself.”


 About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country.  The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference.  UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent.  A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships.  In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

Follow The Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at and through social media on Twitter (@ucsdtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (ucsdtritons).

More From UCSD
M Rowing