As an educator Dr. Shaw firmly believes:
"You never pass up an opportunity to teach somebody something. You never pass up an opportunity to watch a light go on. No matter how dim the light, no matter how insignificant it may be to you, it's not insignificant to the person who's being turned on."
In addition to performing, Dr. Shaw enjoys a career as an educator. If his music can be termed "influenced composition," then his teaching methods can just as easily be defined as "influenced instruction." In matters of music education as well as composition, Dr. Shaw reflects a synthesis of many diverse influences.
An educational philosophy began to take shape while he was conducting research for his doctoral dissertation. He obtained a grant from the University of Oklahoma that financed a unique two year project in which he traveled across the United States conducting interviews with hundreds of musicians and music educators. The people he spoke to ranged from those just starting out to those already at the top of their fields.
Dr. Shaw flew from city to city for two years, cassette recorder in hand, and the central question he posed to each music professional he interviewed was the same: In your opinion, how can music and in particular improvisation best be taught? After studying their answers and writing a dissertation on the subject, Dr. Shaw applied what he learned to his approach to teaching music and improvisation.
His methods which were employed in the Long Beach City College commercial music program were unprecedented and employed a "real world" approach which incorporated his extensive contacts in the music business.