High School Drop-Out Earns Master’s Degree, Releases No.3 Billboard Album, Serves World-Class Client

Shane Mickelsen was 15 years old when his mother (a teacher at his high school) approached him with a very odd question: “have you ever considered dropping out of high school?”

It was an odd question, indeed. Mickelsen had previously been home-schooled and had skipped 8th grade. He had above-average grades, great friends, and participated in extra-curricular activities such as the Madrigal Choir and the Marching Band (where he served as drum major.)

He was therefore perplexed when his mother suggested that he consider dropping out of high school.

His mother clarified her proposition; she explained that Utah State University in Logan, Utah had an early-enrollment program which allowed high school students to enroll as freshmen to the university, provided that they complete their junior year of high school, and submit their transcripts for scrutiny. Acceptance was by no means guaranteed, however, this meant that the university would neither require a high school diploma nor a GED of anyone accepted through the early-enrollment program.

Being heavily involved in musical activities, Mickelsen was certain that he wanted to study music in college. Although he played the piano and clarinet, he was convinced that he would make his musical career by singing opera. He had won several voice competitions including 1st place at NATS (national association of teachers of singing) and would later that year take 2nd in NATS and be the only vocalist to earn a I+ rating for his solo at the state solo and ensemble festival. He studied with baritone, Gary Sorenson - one of the people whom Mickelsen credits with influencing him to make music his career.

Since it would be pointless to be accepted by the university without being accepted into the music program, Mickelsen and his mother decided to get the opinion of Cindy Dewey, head of the voice department at Utah State, before applying to the university, hoping that if the music department supported Mickelsen’s early enrollment, that the office of enrollment might consider the music department’s opinion when considering his application.

They scheduled an audition with Cindy Dewey on November 22, 2006 where he sang “Le Secret,” by Gabriel Faure, and “Hör ich das Liedchen klingen,” by Robert Schumann. His mother accompanied him on the piano.

At this time, Dewey offered him a vocal scholarship to attend USU and said that she supported his early enrollment. This led to his acceptance to the University, and his official dropping out of high school (after completing his junior year.)

Mickelsen’s mother, Christine Mickelsen, had prepared her son for a music degree by guiding him through the first three semesters of music theory courses before sending him to college. When he arrived at USU he tested out of music theory I, aural skills I, and keyboard harmony I. The next semester he tested out of keyboard harmony II, but took the rest of the necessary coursework. The theory teachers said that incomplete homework would not count against a student’s grade as long as the student got an A on every test. Mickelsen decided that rather than do his own homework, he’d use that time to tutor others with their homework (including the seniors!) Mickelsen was also able to take upperclassmen courses as a freshman including the “Form and Analysis” class.

Realizing that he could finish his degree in three years, Mickelsen decided to stay in Logan for summer classes. He was determined to finish the degree before departing at age 19 to serve a mission for the LDS church.

Mickelsen met his future wife, Kacee (Cambron) Mickelsen, in 2008 during his second year at USU. In Mickelsen’s mind (and in the mind of many others) she was the best soprano in the school. They dated in 2009 when Mickelsen was presented the enormous honor of being able to write an opera for the school to perform.

Mickelsen wrote the school opera, The Wolf and the Seven Kids, for Soprano, Mezzo, Tenor, Baritone, and children’s chorus. The school performed it under Mickelsen’s baton with live orchestra in January of 2010. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance at age 19 in May of 2010.

After serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rome, Italy; Mickelsen earned a Master’s Degree in Music Composition, and now makes a living composing full-time.

He married brilliant soprano, Kacee (Cambron) Mickelsen, and he runs Mickelsen Music Services, LLC providing musical arrangements, transcriptions, orchestrations, commissioned works, recordings, midi programming, and more to a variety of civic, private, and world-class clients.

He is best known for his contributions to Paul Cardall’s no. 1 Billboard Album, A New Creation (2016) as orchestrator/arranger/conductor.

Mickelsen has released album (2017) of orchestrations of sacred music called Classical Hymns now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, CD Baby and Deseret Book. This album has charted no.3 on the Billboard Classical Crossover (Mountain) chart, and no. 13 on the Billboard Classical charts.

A full time composer/conductor/teacher, Mickelsen currently resides in the greater Salt Lake Area with his wife, daughter.

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