Biography

Biographical Notes

John-Michael Brooks, twenty years old, is an accomplished musician from San Diego, California.  His primary instrument is the violin and he enjoys classical and jazz as much as old-time fiddling.

John-Michael began violin lessons at five years of age while living in Longview, Washington.  During those early childhood years he was introduced to playing fiddle style and he also studied classical violin in school and participated in many local musical events.  He began public performances at age six - he was a regular at the Longview Catlin Grange, at the Old Steak House and Saloon in Roy, at local fairs, and performed at many school and church programs.  He also enjoyed being part of the old time fiddler shows in Tenino and Shelton.

As a member of the Longview Washington Youth Symphony, John-Michael served in the second chair position.  John-Michael's first contest experience at the state Old Time Fiddling Championships in Prosser, Washington won him top honors in the Small Fry Division.  He went on to place third at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest and Festival in Weiser, Idaho.

Since moving to San Diego in 2000, John-Michael has continued his musical studies.  He has attended the San Diego School of Performing and Creative Arts (SCPA) since his freshman year, where for three consecutive years he has been voted by his peers the Ludwig Van Beethoven award for Musician of the Year.  In 2008 he was also awarded the Itzhak Perlman award for best musician in the SCPA orchestra.  He serves as the concertmaster for the SCPA chamber orchestra and has soloed with the SCPA Jazz ensemble.  In addition, representing SCPA, he served as concertmaster in the San Diego Unified School District High School Honor Orchestra, an honor he had previously received at the elementary level in 2003.

John-Michael has performed with the San Diego Youth Symphony since the beginning of the 2000 season.  For the 2008-09 season, John-Michael has been awarded the position of "Maurice Kawashima Associate Concertmaster - San Diego Youth Symphony Orchestra."

John-Michael takes classical violin lessons with Dr. Phillip Tyler, a professor at Point Loma Nazarene University.  John-Michael played with the PLNU orchestra for two years and was the only high-school student invited to participate in their orchestra.

John-Michael and two classmates have formed a group called the Gypsy Jazz Trio.  The group has performed at various functions in the San Diego area, most recently at the 35th Annual Adams Avenue Roots & Folk Festival.

On December 5, 2008, John-Michael auditioned for Berklee College of Music with accompanists Barry Zweig on guitar and Luther Hughes on bass.  The audition and interview took place on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. On  January 31, 2009, John-Michael received the acceptance letter and a week later receives a scholarship!

Acknowledgements

John-Michael would like to acknowledge the following individuals, all of whom have contributed greatly to his musical accomplishments.

Maxine Johnson of Longview, Washington.  Maxine is a devoted long-time teacher of young people and has amazing patience.  She holds many fiddling titles and has performed at many different venues.  He sends a special Thank You to Maxine; she was the only teacher in the Longview area who would teach a child as young as John-Michael was when he started, and he might have lost his enthusiasm if he had had to wait several years.

Matt Mandrones of Longview, Washington.  Matt is a local elementary school music teacher, director of the Longview Youth Symphony, and has a Masters in violin.  Matt is an impressive classical performer.

Bobbi Fultz of Longview, Washington.  Bobbi is a multi-trophy Old Time Fiddler who performs as well in the classical realm.  She has been a Washington State Adult Old Time Fiddle Champion and helped greatly in preparing John-Michael for his contests.

Tamara Paige of San Diego, California.  Ms. Paige is a SCPA music teacher, friend and mentor to John-Michael.  Tamara works tirelessly with her students and has been a great role model.  She has helped John-Michael find gigs around the city and forces John-Michael to expand his musical horizons at every opportunity.

Dr. Philip Tyler of San Diego, California.  Dr. Tyler is a professor at Point Loma Nazarene University.  Dr. Tyler has helped John-Michael tremendously to hone his classical talent and has helped with the preparation for various classical competitions.

Jeff Edmons of San Diego, California.  Mr. Edmons has been Artistic Director of the San Diego Youth Symphony for the last 12 years.  Under his tutelage, the Youth Symphony has grown in stature nationally.  As an avid teacher and supporter of the arts, Mr. Edmons has positively influenced the lives of many, many youth in the San Diego area, including John-Michael.

Mark O'Connor.  Mark is a great role-model for John-Michael.  Mark began his career as a "fiddler" and has now become a preeminent classical star as well.  John-Michael has gone to the Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp / Strings Conference since it started in San Diego several years ago.  At the August 2003 camp he took a master class with Mark.  The camp has opened his mind to many different styles of music.

Sam Necochea of Lakeside, California.  Sam has been a great friend and mentor for John-Michael.  John-Michael has played several venues with Sam and Sam has provided him with instruction in both the fiddle and guitar.  Sam is also a great vocalist, and was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame in 1994.  He has been a big influence in John-Michael's swing and jazz styles.

John-Michael was born in San Diego, California where his mother, father, maternal grandparents, and other family members still reside.  He wants to thank his mom, dad and grandparents for their financial and emotional support of his musical endeavors.

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