Tom Schuman was born on January 31, 1958, in Buffalo, NY. His father, Wally, was a jazz bassist and his mother, Marion, was a jazz singer when they met. Greatly influenced by this family of musicians, Tom began playing piano by ear at age six. His parents were reluctant to give him lessons because of their own struggles with the music business. When they heard him playing jazz chords, improvising and writing tunes at age seven, they felt compelled to provide him with all of the musical support a child could possibly have.
He started studying classical piano in 1965. For five years he practiced every day after school but soon grew an aversion to classical piano because of its lack of freedom