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Jay Mason: “My Students Ask Great Questions Which Spurs Me to Learn More and More”


This interview delves into the musical journey of saxophonist Jay Mason, exploring his formative years, influential teachers, and professional and pedagogical trajectory. Mason’s early immersion in Southern California’s music scene, participation in various ensembles, and dedication to continuous learning through master classes and music camps shaped his foundation. Notably, key mentors, including Don Hawkins, Leo Potts, and Gary Foster, played pivotal roles in his development.

As a freelance musician in Los Angeles, Mason’s diverse studies, post-California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), led to an unexpected teaching role at CSULB in 2005. Mason’s commitment to teaching stems from a desire to give back to the musical community, honor his influential mentors, and engage with students’ insightful questions, fostering a reciprocal learning process.

Mason outlines his methodological preferences, emphasizing foundational elements like tone, intonation, and technique through specific exercises and etudes. His jazz studies incorporate works by Mark Levine, Greg Fishman, and Bob Mintzer, complemented by the Amazing Slow Downer app for effective transcription.

Detailing his daily sax routine, Mason’s practice includes long tones, scales, etudes, and repertoire, tailored to his varied instruments. Regarding equipment, Mason highlights his preference for Yamaha and Selmer saxophones, along with a range of mouthpieces that have proven effective for his playing style.

Prospective students interested in studying with Mason can find him at CSU Long Beach in Southern California for undergraduate or graduate studies. Mason’s teaching philosophy involves personalized instruction, recognizing each student’s unique learning style, and fostering individualized plans to achieve their goals.

Both teacher and student can expect a collaborative and open-minded learning environment, with Mason emphasizing the importance of dedication and patience in the journey of musical mastery. He addresses the common challenge of impatience among young players today, advocating for a long-term, incremental approach to skill development, drawing on his own experiences as both an educator and professional performer.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music