Love of music drew Mason to teaching
The call to music came early for Ringgold High School band director Dawn Mason.
Long before taking the helm as band director at her alma mater, she played her first notes on the piano as a second-grader at the former Roosevelt School in New Eagle.
It was there that a music teacher became a guiding influence in Mason's life. She remembers Betty Ferrari as a mentor in the budding stage of her musical development.
“She used to have me play piano in front of the class a couple times a year,” Mason said.
Pushing her past her comfort zone gave Mason the opportunity to feel the excitement of performing and created a drive to perform that lasted long after her elementary years.
Moving onto drums later in elementary school further broadened her musical talents.
Continuing her musical activities in high school, she was active playing in bands at Ringgold, including the orchestra and marching bands, where her younger brother and sister also shared her passion for performing as drummer/bass guitarist and pompom squad member, respectively.
It was during a band festival in high school she first saw the West Virginia University marching band perform. Impressed, she was determined to become a member of that band.
After graduating from Ringgold in 1990, she achieved her dream and became a member of the WVU marching band while pursuing a degree in music education.
After obtaining her degree in 1996, Mason moved to South Carolina, where she became band director at North Myrtle Beach High School.
It was a great experience and a fun place to live, she said.
“I used to play a lot of gigs in the summer,” Mason said.
Now back living in the Mon Valley, and closer to parents Dave and Diana Mason of Carroll Township, she is in her fourth year as Ringgold band director. She spends her time planning performances, choosing music, and mentoring her students.
Her involvement with the school's music program is extensive, including leading the marching, jazz, and concert bands, a championship, 25-member indoor drum line, planning for the annual musical, and an upcoming performance at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
It's a labor of love to pass her knowledge and passion for music along to her students.
“I want them to be able to experience what I got to experience…the band trips, all those memories,” she said.
Her caring nature shows in her relationship with her students. She takes the time to listen to her students' interests.
“The hardest part of my job is finding well-written music that the kids enjoy playing and the crowd enjoys hearing,” she explained.
She works to accomplish this task by sitting and discussing ideas with staff and students. It's a months-long process in many cases from brainstorming to performing, but it's worth the time, she said.
Mason is a beloved teacher and guiding force to many students and is always there to lend a helping hand or motivation when needed, according to students.
“Ms. Mason is awesome. She helped me learn everything I need to know about anything. She's been my teacher as long as I can remember, and she's always been there for me anytime I needed her,” said senior trumpet player Jessie Martin.
With some students beginning high school band as early as eighth grade, her time as their teacher can last up to five years – as opposed to most teachers having a student for a year.
“I get to see the students learn and grow and prepare for college. I get the most enjoyment out of that,” she said.
Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3 hurt in Carroll crash
- Monessen woman honored for service as church volunteer
- Water outage hits Washington Twp.
- Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority nixes merger
- Donora Historical Society sets Cement City tour
- October is Domestic Violence Month
- Mon Valley man faces trial, claims innocence to lawyer
- Vehicle crashes into building on North Belle Vernon street
- Plans gearing up for Monessen Veterans Day Parade
- Annual Ghost Tour set in Monongahela
- 6 charged following downtown California street fight