Michael Shinn

Dean of Music

Michael Shinn joined the Conservatory in 2017 as dean of music. Shinn’s passion for educating creative and versatile musicians of the future, combined with his enduring support for the outstanding faculty and students at the Conservatory have been foundational to his leadership. As dean, he directs artistic planning and strategizing for the Music Division and works closely with faculty and administration to develop and refine the curriculum, ensuring it remains innovative and cutting-edge. 

The first collaboration Shinn brought to the Conservatory was with the Silkroad Ensemble, which has impacted the student experience in myriad ways, from performance collaborations at Symphony Hall to artistic risk-taking in the classroom. In 2022, Shinn forged a new partnership with Boston Lyric Opera (BLO), providing indispensable industry connections for opera students and fostering collaboration with BLO’s emerging artists and leaders through the new Opera Innovators Series. Shinn also has established relationships with industry leaders in music technology and audio and video production, leading to the development of new required curricula in recording and production for all Conservatory students.

One of Shinn’s chief goals as dean is to leverage the Berklee merger for the benefit of the Conservatory as well as the entire institution. He has brokered partnerships with Berklee Valencia to launch the study abroad program for Music Division students; with BerkleeNYC to record Music Division ensembles in 8k virtual reality at these world-class studios; with the college’s Film Scoring Department to create a competition for their students’ compositions to be recorded at BerkleeNYC; and with Berklee Online to support the development of a unique Conservatory course. Thanks to these initiatives, Boston Conservatory students are now at the vanguard of their fields, as artistic change makers and leaders.

Prior to his appointment at the Conservatory, Shinn was chair of keyboard studies at the Juilliard School, where he taught piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and keyboard skills for both pianists and conductors. He also served as senior advisor for artistic and educational programs at Juilliard Global Ventures, where he designed and taught Juilliard’s first online course, Sharpen Your Artistry. Shinn launched the Speaking from the Stage initiative at Juilliard, which prepares students to address their audiences and engage with arts lovers and future supporters. Shinn also has presented and moderated panels about the future of arts education and the role of the arts in society at SXSW EDU, the Pebble Beach Authors and Ideas Festival, SphinxConnect, and the Yamaha Educational Leader’s Summit.

Together with his wife, Jessica (also faculty at the Conservatory), Michael cofounded and directs the pianoSonoma Music Festival. Now in its 13th season, pianoSonoma has been a major vehicle through which the Shinns have supported the development of outstanding young musicians. The festival helps train these Artists in Residence, collaborating with adult participants of all backgrounds and creating opportunities in performance, teaching, and leading masterclasses. Shinn has developed impactful partnerships for the festival with Juilliard, Boston Conservatory, the Green Music Center, and the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Michael and Jessica are both Yamaha artists and duo pianists who passionately advocate for new music, having given world premieres by composers such as Adam Schoenberg and Thomas Cabaniss. They commissioned the latter to write a major two-piano concerto, Double Rainbow, which became the centerpiece of an album featuring the complete music collection Cabaniss has written for the duo.

Shinn is also a loving father of two, and when time permits he is a passionate runner, cyclist, and triathlete. Learn more about Shinn at michaelshinn.com.