John Paul Shields is a guitar performer, composer, and instructor with over 20 years of professional experience, currently based in Spokane, WA. A graduate of the University of Washington in classical guitar, with a masters in guitar performance from the University of Idaho, John Paul has performed worldwide in a colorful array of settings, from public festivals in Peru to Seattle’s esteemed Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya, to live on radio and television. A passionate musician dedicated to the lifelong pursuit of learning, John Paul has played as both soloist and in ensembles, in projects ranging from classical music, Peruvian folk music, to even rock, pop and jazz.
Recitals and Ensemble Playing
John Paul’s international career has taken him throughout the United States and Peru, from small local venues to celebrated concert halls. His current recital programs draw from a blend of classical guitar repertoire, Peruvian folklore and original compositions.
Weddings and Events
After playing weddings for over twenty-five years, John Paul has gained a tremendous appreciation for their beauty and complexity. As a provider of music for the wedding, John Paul does as much as he can to help make the music-planning process as easy and pleasurable as possible.
Recording and Composing
John Paul has been recording and composing since 1996. This includes both personal and contracted projects. Contracted duties have included playing requested pieces as well as composing, playing and producing music for video. He is currently recording an album.
John Paul Shields has been actively teaching and participating in music education since 2001, and is currently faculty at the Holy Names Music Center, Spokane Falls Community College in Spokane, WA, and Yakima Valley College in Yakima, WA. In addition to private guitar lessons, John Paul has taught group classes in both schools and afterschool organizations. He has also lectured about the guitar and its repertoire to audiences of all ages, created and developed guitar programs for adolescents and adults, and given master classes to aspiring professional musicians in conservatories.
John Paul approaches guitar technique holistically, focusing on body coordination while also incorporating traditional themes such as scales and tone. After having guitar-related injuries, John Paul began investigating the ergonomics of guitar playing, inspired by his studies of kinesiology, physical therapy, and the Alexander technique. Lessons focus on students building habit awareness of their playing and practice in order to achieve ease, freedom and control. This additionally gives the students a greater chance to continue their enjoyment of the guitar, enabling them to strengthen their technique and to self-diagnose technical problems in their playing and interpretations.
Philosophically, John Paul approaches guitar from movement: movement in sound, body, mind and emotion. In application, students are encouraged to listen to the sound their movements create, starting at the very basic and broad, then progressing to the refined and detailed. Students are then encouraged to begin to implement movements that display and match mood, then changing that mood upon a whim. The idea is to play more than practice, but all the while strategically.
Ultimately, John Paul’s main goal as an instructor is to help his students recognize their unique artistic aspirations while developing the tools and understanding to progress independently.
A LOS MAESTROS; TO MY TEACHERS
This album [still being finished!] is dedicated to the great players who inspired me, as well as the teachers who helped me [and luckily, sometimes they were both!]. It is also a play on translation, as maestro has two meanings: one a “master” performer, and another “great teacher.” The liner notes will explain the player (or person) that inspired me to learn the song, and the teacher who helped me learn the piece.
COYOTE DANCES, SOUTH HILL GUITARS
Recorded with James Reid in 2016, this album features music by Mauro Giuliani, Jaime Zenamon, Celso Machado, and new work commissioned from William Whitley, Sr. The title is taken from the section of the second movement of Whitley’s “Creation of the World,” entitled “Coyote Draws Yakail-Wimakl.” The title refers to a Native American legend about the origins of the Columbia river.