Mike Shields is a versatile, fluent trumpet player whose performance encompasses traditional sounds and whose compositions expand the instrument into new, post-modern realms. He is also, without words, a poet, a poet of the breath, evoking, with his horn, emotions ranging from the celebratory to the sublime using the universal language of music. His original grounding was in strictly Classical music; his mother sang opera, and each night when he was a child his father, an astrophysicist, played him baroque pieces on violin as lullabies until he was eight or so. When he was in fourth grade Mike’s grandfather, who played trumpet in the Harvard Dance Band, gave him a bugle, beginning what became a life long exploration of the horn, starting with the standard bugle repertoire. In his parents’ household Mike never even heard what we call “pop” when he was young; the classic records were there, but he never heard them played until his classmates played them for him in middle school. From this fundament he has evolved an appreciation and knowledge of music ranging from Classical to Jazz to Pop and commercial tunes.
In his early years, he excelled in Classical music, making All State Orchestra in 1998 and recording with Patricia M. Long and the Texas Boys Choir, playing principle trumpet on their recording of “Mass in E-flat: Millennium.” Mike’s passion for Jazz and all things modern emerged in high school where he won numerous awards, recorded an album, and saw an emerging role as a tutor and educator working with fellow students with common goals. In college at the University of North Texas, in it’s legendary Music school, Mike was able to flourish as a Jazz Soloist and Lead trumpet player. From day one Mike performed in two Lab Bands simultaneously, playing the Solo spot in the prestigious “One O’clock” Lab Band and Lead trumpet in a “Three O’clock” Band. This exposed him to the entire repertoire UNT’s famous library of Big Band charts has to offer, and over those years Mike availed himself of the rich ensemble environment at North Texas, playing various parts with other Lab Bands, gaining plenty of crucial experience on all the parts in the trumpet section, and playing with groups and Big Bands outside of school as well, growing and emerging as a performer and an educator. A particularly formative and triumphant experience was traveling to and performing at venues surrounding the Grammys in L.A. with the One O’Clock Lab Band in 2010.
Since attaining his Master’s in Jazz Trumpet, he’s played with various groups and bands commercially, as well as exploring the intricacies and subtleties of composition, production and post-production technologies and techniques, all resulting in a continuing evolution of his distinctive, powerful, and moving musical identity.
Mike has explored various non-classical and unconventional branches of study as well, including but not limited to the Spiritual, in the process of overcoming the existential challenges besetting all aware contemporary artistic minds, sampling and studying various Teachings, primarily from Eastern traditions, and arriving at a perception, pursuit and practice of the balance of mind and body as the revealed key to maintaining health of one’s whole Being, as well as to truly liberated listening and, ultimately, playing. Mike has a keen appreciation of the Unity in and of all things, and this translates into an assimilation of music of all types without bias or self-identification, and yet also to his fidelity in discovering, hearing, and expressing his own inner “voice” as a Trumpet player, composer and performer. As an educator Mike’s approach is about facilitation, about empowering engagement; not telling others what to do but about inviting them to discover their own direction – and ultimately their own style – just as he has and still is exploring and discovering his own.