Teen of the Week: Music plays a key role in Marietta teen’s life

When Matthew Mason leaves Marietta High School at the end of the academic year, it will leave a vacuum in the school’s music activities.

Mason, an accomplished pianist, organist and arranger, as well as the Wall of Sound marching band field commander, has been a driving force in the sounds of Marietta High.

His piano instructor, Karen Young, said Mason is “a joy to work with … the high school is going to miss him.”

In addition to Mason’s talent as a soloist, accompanist and ensemble player, he also penned arrangements of carols for woodwinds for the school’s Christmas concert.

Question: Do you come from a musical family?

Answer: My mom was a pianist and organist when she was in high school and as a young adult, and we’ve had a piano in my house my entire life. My older sister was involved in choir and played piano, and now she’s a music teacher at a middle school in Oklahoma.

Q: Explain what’s attracted you about being the field commander for a marching band.

A: I have loved being a field commander, or drum major. When my sister was in middle school she was in the color guard band, so since elementary school I saw drum majors conduct. I imitated their motions. When the opportunity came up when I was a freshman, I auditioned and got it.

Q: How did you come to play music for a church?

A: Our family was between churches when I was in middle school, and about a year and a half ago I got a Facebook message from a friend telling me that First Baptist Church was looking for a pianist and organist. I didn’t think I could do it, but I started playing some of the songs in my great aunt’s hymnal and realized I probably could do it. Since August I’ve played there every week, and I’ve joined the praise band, which is a volunteer service but I really enjoy it.

Q: What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?

A: That’s difficult, but I think I would have to say playing at the church. Learning hymns and playing hymns, my piano skills have increased tremendously. It’s really made me a better musician.

Q: In addition to your talent as a performer, you’ve also taken up arranging music. How did that happen?

A: I love arranging things, and I also like composing, but I think I’m a better arranger than a composer. I like working with things that exist and putting a new spin on them. This past year for the Hometown Holiday spectacular, I arranged a few songs, Christmas pieces for high woodwinds.

Q: What do you like to do with your free time?

A: Recently I’ve taken up baking and cooking things, and as I bake more and more, I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it. I always practice piano, and I play flute and piccolo in the high school band. I also like going and getting coffee with friends. I’m a pretty social person.

Q: Do you have a hero or a role model?

A: I would have to say the composer John Williams (who wrote the soundtrack and themes for, among other movies, the Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter series) is somebody I look up to. I would love to be in his position, composing music for films, giving a sense of emotion to audiences across the nation and the world. I think that the purpose of movie scores is to give the film emotion, to make the person watching the film feel the scene, and Williams has mastered that.

At a glance

¯ Name: Matthew Mason

¯ Age: 17

¯ Grade: Senior

¯ School: Marietta High School

¯ Family: Father Keith Mason, mother Susan Mason, sister Elizabeth Mason, 22, brother Ben Mason, freshman at Marietta High School

¯ Activities: Pianist, organist and member of praise band at First Baptist Church of Marietta; member of Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) music honors society chapter; editor of the Orian yearbook; field commander, Wall of Sound marching band

¯ Future plans: Attend a college with a school of music, looking at The Ohio State University, Cincinnati Conservatory, Berklee College of Music in Boston