Mike fully realized he wanted to be involved in music while taking his first music theory class during his junior year of high school. Excelling rather quickly, it became clear he had a natural understanding of music (theory & practices), thanks in part through the encouragements of his closest friends and teachers, and most importantly of his then recently-deceased grandfather, who also led a musically- involved life. Two big band compositions were created during his senior year (2001) and performed various times, including as part of a jazz ensemble competition held yearly at the Springville Pageant of Bands. That year, the DHS Jazz Ensemble took first place, after not having done so since 1995.
While at the State University of New York at Buffalo (2001-2005), Mike’s compositional skills and understanding of music theory soared even further, resulting in a massive body of original compositions that were performed and recorded by various groups. Some of these groups include: the UB Jazz Ensemble (“That’s Okay- We’ll Meet Again”, “Pergola”), the UB Jazz Octet (“I Dig That Bossa”, “Centerport”, “Go That Way”), and the UB Symphony Orchestra (“Smoke-Filled Bar”). Through the generous support from the UB Concert Band director Jon Nelson, Mike’s music traveled out of the limits of Buffalo, and into the realm of Fredonia, where director Raymond Stewart premiered some of his concert band compositions (“Heart of Darkness”, “The Electrically-Charged Samba in 5/2”) with much success, invoking a dialogue with jazz band director and baritone saxophonist Bruce Johnstone.