Brendan Mason is an active teacher, performer, and clinician in the New England area. He currently teaches general music at The Saint Mary School in Branford, CT and serves as the Assistant Marching Band Director for Jonathon Law High School in Milford, CT. He provides private lessons to many students of all ages in the New England Area. Brendan also has served as caption head or technician to several area drumlines and percussion sections including the Cheshire High School Marching Band, Col. John Chester Drum Corps, Connecticut Patriots Drum Corps, The Stony Creek Drum Corps and the 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. He as provided clinics and workshops all over the United States and Europe, including a 2014 presentation for the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis and for The Royal Marine School of Music in Portsmouth, UK.
Brendan is a student of Ed Rhodes, Bob Rush, Paul Cormier, Mike Gagnon, Matt Mayotte, Tim Cecil and later studied under Ken Green while attending Northwestern State University of Louisiana where he pursued his degree in music education and percussion performance. Brendan started playing rudimental snare drum at the age of 6 as a member of the Col. John Chester Drum Corps. He soon began competing individually through the Corps, winning honors at the Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hudson Valley, and Northeastern States Championships. At age 9, Brendan became the youngest drummer to hold The Dan English Trophy as the Connecticut State Junior Snare Drum Champion, a distinction he has won more times than any other individual.
In addition to teaching, Brendan is a member of the Connecticut Patriots Drum Corps. He has also performed with the Middlesex County Volunteers and The Top Secret Drum Corps of Basel, Switzerland. Through these groups, Brendan has toured both nationally and internationally, performing in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Australia. He has individually performed with notable musicians, such as Shania Twain, and was featured on an ESPN recording. Brendan is a proud member of USARD and NARD. He is also an endorsee of The Cooperman Drum Company, Innovative Percussion, ProLogix Percussion and Loyal Drums.
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Check out the below interview with Brendan!
1. When did you starting playing percussion and who inspired you?
I started playing when I was 6 years old in The Col. John Chester Fife and Drum Corps from Wethersfield, CT. Both of my parents met each other in fife and drum corps (eventually my brothers Peter and Colin joined the drumline while my sister Maureen joined the fife line) so it was a family thing from the get go. My mom was an incredible snare drummer and my father, Donald Mason, is arguably the best rudimental bass drummer of all time. At Col. John, I was blessed with great instructors Ed Rhodes, Tim Cecil, and Matt Mayotte. Eventually I was taught by Paul Cormier who showed me the importance and beauty of running down rudiments. Along the way I was helped by more teachers who inspired me to become a more well-rounded percussionist. However, my two biggest inspirations were my parents. I remember watching my Dad practice his bass drum solos for hours in his bed room leading up to an individual competition. He is where I got my patience and competitive drive as a teacher and performer. My mom is definitely the strongest person I know. I wanted to drum like her. I always tell everybody that I have her left hand. The truth is, I’m still working on it.
2. How has your Fife and Drum experience in Connecticut helped you to open doors to take your career to the next level?
Man, my experience in fife and drum has been everything to me. The fife and drum tradition in Connecticut is second to none. Being able to drum with some of the best drummers on the planet at the coolest events has been absolutely incredible. I’ve had so many doors open up along the way that have opened my eyes to how truly special this tradition is. I have been able to perform all over the world in places like Australia, Switzerland, France, Germany performing with groups like The Top Secret Drum Corps. Just this past summer I had the opportunity to present a masterclass for the Royal Marine School of Music in Portsmouth, the musical wing of the Royal Navy. I have also been able to present clinics for organizations like USARD and PAS. It’s been surreal! But perhaps the thing I am most proud of is being able to make teaching rudimental drumming a career. Among the many places where I work, I teach music at Saint Mary School in Branford, CT where their instrumental music program is a fife and drum corps. I am also the Battery Caption Head for the 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. At night, I teach drum corps all over the state.
3. What advice do you have to any upcoming percussionist?
Don’t ever forget where you came from. Your roots are the foundation of your future. I’ve had so many students and friends who grew up in fife and drum that have gone on to march some pretty incredible DCI corps or play in some awesome ensembles or join bands. Almost all of them always come back because they realize how rewarding of an experience it was.