Meet Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw

Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Visiting Professor of Baroque Trumpet Studies, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
Principal Trumpet, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra
Co-Principal Trumpet, Dallas Winds
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Interview With Brian Shaw

1. Where were you born? What is your earliest musical memory?

I was born in 1977 in a little town in southeastern Illinois called Carmi. My earliest musical memory that really sticks out is hearing the great jazz trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson play when I was in 6th grade. He is the person who inspired me to try and get better at the trumpet and led me to discover so many other great musicians.


2. What were your favorite things to do when you were in Elementary/Primary school?

Since there are no musicians in my family, I wasn’t very interested in music when I was really young. I was interested in art, though – and sort of taught myself to draw very young. I won a coloring contest in our local newspaper when I was in kindergarten, and had taught myself to oil paint (by watching the landscape painters on public television) by the time I was around 10.


3. When did you decide to play a music instrument and why?

In my school, most students started band in around the fourth grade, which is when I started. I wanted to play the trombone but my Dad, who drove the school bus I rode every day, said it was too big for me to bring on the bus, so maybe I should play something smaller. I settled on the trumpet, thinking that it would be a little easier, since it had fewer keys than the other instruments!


4. What kinds of music did you enjoy listening to as a child? Any specific musicians or concerts that you remember?

4. I grew up listening to a lot of pop and country music that my Mom played around the house. I didn’t get interested in jazz or classical music until junior high school or so.


5. Why did you decide to become a musician?

As I mentioned, I really was interested in art and music in high school. I was torn as to what I should do in college and asked one of my friends. He said “You’re a much better trumpet player than you are an artist” (which was probably true!) so that’s what I chose! It was a decision I’ve never regretted, even though so many of my important decisions seem to be made pretty spontaneously!


6. What are your favorite things about being a musician and playing brass instruments?

I love travelling and getting to see new parts of the world when I’m playing music. I’ve met so many wonderful people everywhere I’ve ever been, and playing music helps bring you close to people very easily. I love seeing the looks on people in an audience who are enjoying the music I’m a part of. It is a wonderful feeling.


7. What are your other interests?

I still paint sometimes – but only for fun and relaxation. I also like to cook and am very interested in astronomy and just bought a nice big telescope. I love spending time with my son, and I have good friends who I love to share laughs with.


8. What do you hope students will get out of learning with Brass for Beginners?

I’m really excited that you’re beginning to learn about how to play the trumpet – and about the history of brass instruments – through Brass for Beginners! I wish that such a program had existed when I was first starting to play. It’s my honor to join you on this journey.