top of page


“If you know the Way broadly, you will see it in everything.”

Miyamoto Musashi

I love this quote.  More than anything, it reminds me that mastery has been happening for many thousands of years, and that the process has not changed.  Only the surface-level details change depending on the discipline.

Dr. John G. Shanks joined the faculty of West Texas A&M University in 2014.  His students have been successful in their areas of study, securing employment as band directors and obtaining placement in some of the country's top graduate programs.  Shanks has appeared as a clinician or guest performer at the TMEA Conference, TBA Conference, the American Trombone Workshop, the International Trombone Festival, and the Big XII Trombone Conference.  Under his direction, the WTAMU Trombone Choir has also performed at the Big XII Trombone Conference, many concerts on campus and in the community, and especially at its yearly "Jingle Bones" concert at local retirement homes.  The Trombone Choir will also appear at the TMEA Conference in February 2019.


As a soloist, he has appeared with the WTAMU Symphonic Band, the WTAMU Brass Choir, the W.D. Packard Band, the Akron Community Band, the University of Alabama Concert Band, and the University of Alabama Trombone Choir.  John was the only American tenor trombonist to appear at the First International Tenor and Bass Trombone Competition in Budapest, Hungary in 2016.  He was named the winner of the 2012 Eastern Trombone Workshop National Solo Competition and a finalist in the same competition in 2011.  Additionally, he was twice chosen as one of eight featured Participants at the Alessi Seminar out of a large international field.  Upcoming solo engagements include Chamber Music Amarillo and the Beethoven Society of the Amarillo Symphony.


Dr. Shanks currently holds the position of Principal Trombone of the Amarillo Symphony, and in addition regularly performs with the San Antonio Symphony and Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale.  Previously, he has held positions or performed with the Mississippi Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Tuscaloosa Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Bloomington Camerata, Columbus (IN) Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Greenville Symphony, American Wind Symphony, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Norwegian Cruise Line, and the international tour of "Hairspray!".  He has shared the stage with such legends as Joseph Alessi, Demondrae Thurman, Conrad Herwig, Robin Eubanks, Slide Hampton, and Chris Brubeck. 


John holds degrees in trombone performance from Youngstown State University, Indiana University, and the University of Alabama.  His primary instructors include Jonathan Whitaker, Demondrae Thurman, Peter Ellefson, Michael Crist, John Olsson, and Joseph Alessi.  He has received secondary instruction from Dee Stewart, Carl Lenthe, Mark Lawrence, Paul Welcomer, Toby Oft, Tim Higgins, Steve Lange, Denson Paul Pollard, and many other luminaries of the low brass world. 


Dr. Shanks is an S.E. Shires Performing Artist, a member of the International Trombone Association and Texas Music Educators Association, an honorary brother of Kappa Kappa Psi, and a proud alumni member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.


Tenor: S.E. Shires Custom: 1Y Bell/Gold Tuning Slide/Axial Flow Valve/TW47GYC Slide/2L Leadpipe/Greg Black 4GSD Mouthpiece

Alto: S.E. Shires Custom: A7YLW Bell/A85.95 Slide/Doug Elliott XT102-XT C+-D alto S Mouthpiece

“I hate quotations.  Tell me what you know.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

bottom of page