Faculty in Focus: CMDA Associate Professor Brian Shaw

Getting paid to do what you absolutely love, every single day is not something most people can claim. But, that’s a different story for Illinois-born trumpet player and tenured-faculty member, Brian Shaw.

Shaw exhibited musical talents from an early age playing the B-flat trumpet in the elementary school band. Though the trombone was his instrument of choice, his father, a school bus driver,  suggested he play something a little bit smaller in size. And so it began, a life long career that would take him to places around the world.  

Shaw practiced the trumpet daily in his parent’s garage which was equipped for comfort for all seasons of the year.

“I played so loudly as a kid that my parents had me practice in an outside "unattached" garage, where I could blare away to my heart's content. There was a/c in there in the summer, and a wood burning stove in the winter, so I was never too uncomfortable, and they were finally able to relax and watch TV in peace,” Shaw said laughing.

It was in sixth grade when Shaw was mesmerized and inspired at a live concert by Maynard Ferguson, a Canadian jazz musician. That single performance paved the way for Shaw’s future career. 

In November 2015, the University Planning Committee (UPC) met to begin the process of developing a strategic plan to determine the focus of Louisiana State University going forward over the next five to seven years. Since then, more than 150 people including faculty, staff, students, alumni and business leaders have taken part in focus groups to offer face-to-face comments to help shape the plan. In addition, 2,100 faculty, staff and students participated in an on-line survey to lend their voices in helping formulate the goals and objectives utilized to develop the overall plan. Following the research phase, university deans, vice presidents, vice provosts, faculty and staff senate leaders attended a Strategic Planning Leadership Retreat to further shape the core of the plan. In addition to providing their opinions on the plan, this group confirmed a list of six values that underpin the ideals LSU Tigers value as a community.

“Hearing Maynard Ferguson for the first time was just an ear-opening experience…to hear a live, great, professional trumpet player was just this inspiring thing.” said Shaw. “It lit a fire under me!”

Shaw has followed in Maynard’s footsteps and traveled around the world playing in famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, NY; Thêatre des Champs-Elysées, Paris; Opera at Versailles for audiences of all different sizes. Shaw has also collaborated with local and national musical talents such as Aretha Franklin, Renée Fleming, Branford Marsalis, "Doc" Severinsen and Wayne Bergeron to name a few.

Shaw began teaching at LSU in the fall 2007. He instructs students on trumpet and jazz studies as well as writes his own music. Shaw has always found it most important to instill a sense of capability in his students.

“If I can teach my students to make more beautiful sounds and to project their artistry in a way that communicates with an audience–maybe they’ll make someone’s day better,” said Shaw.

Shaw is deeply involved with the musical community in Baton Rouge and around the globe. He is a member of the Baton Rouge Symphony and the Dallas Wind Symphony and plays routinely at the LSU concert Series “Hot Summer Nights and Cool Jazz.” Shaw has released two solo albums, his first in 2008 and his most recent in 2014.

“The first (2008) was an all-Baroque album of music that was, in my opinion, some of the most difficult literature written for the trumpet during that era. It is titled Virtuoso Concertos for Clarino. The second is from 2014, which is a solo album accompanied by the Dallas Wind Symphony, titled redshift. These are works that are solely for trumpet and wind ensemble, the highlights of which are the title piece by LSU composer, colleague and friend Brett WIlliam Dietz and Fisher Tull's Concerto no. 2.”

Shaw holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, a master’s degree from the Eastman School and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. Shaw resides in Baton Rouge with his son Thomas.

Author’s note: Faculty in Focus is a new series written by the Office of Academic Affairs that highlights the good work of our faculty and their contributions to the academy. Their work will be displayed in the Office of Academic Affairs and throughout the campus via video and written articles.