James A. Mason
Early Life and Education
James Albert Mason was born in Eureka, Utah on January 4, 1929. His family moved the Springville, Utah and he grew up across the street from the Springville Museum of Art. At any early age, he began to gain an appreciation for the arts. His mother was a painter, so he subsequently grew up in proximity to the arts.
Mason attended Brigham Young University, but was drafted into the army shortly after starting his education. He served in the Eighth Army Band, which served in both the United States and Korea. One of his most memorable experiences in Korea was the night his unit was bombed and he had to rush everyone out. He was dressed in his ‘MASH outfit’ – a floral shirt and white athletic shoes. People kept asking what division he was from, to which he essentially responded, "I’m with the band."
After his military service Mason returned to BYU where he played the trumpet and French horn, and participated in the dance band and Symphony Orchestra, where he met his wife, Lynne Galbraith.
After completing his master’s degree, Mason was hired to teach at Brigham Young High School, BYU’s former laboratory high school that was run in conjunction with the education program. He spent his time in research and teaching, eventually creating education content for KUED.
At the same time, he entertained multiple side projects, which included co-founding the Utah Valley Symphony. Mason also became involved in the Utah Music Education Association, where he served as treasurer and ultimately as editor of the award-winning Utah Music Educator magazine.
After five years at Brigham Young High School, Mason moved to the Music Department where he taught music education courses and supervised student teaching. His students included S. Gordon Jessop, Susan Hobson Kenney and K. Newell Dayley.
During his tenure at BYU, he was able to pursue various other opportunities, including editing The Instrumentalist, serving on the Music Education Research Council, consulting for the Manhattan Curriculum Project in New York, as well as the Ford Foundation’s Comprehensive Music Program in Washington.
Mason has also been a visiting professor Indiana University, the University of Texas, and Northwestern University. He has lectured in Beijing, China, and Warsaw, Poland, and was a consultant in Kiev, Ukraine, on western concepts in higher education programs. He has chaired national symposia and worked with committees in developing more effective arts programs, including two House Conferences. Mason served a two-year term in Washington D.C., after being elected national president of the 65,000-member Music Educators National Conference. Mason also served as a member of the advisory committee for the new Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As dean, he oversaw the construction of BYU’s Museum of Art, and served as its first director. In 2000 Mason was honored by BYU and received the Distinguished Service Award. In 2002 he was recognized with the Franklin S. Harris Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the College of Fine Arts and Communications.
Mason has always been active in the LDS Church. He has served as the elder’s quorum president in three wards, high counselor in three stakes, bishop in two wards, and on the Executive Committee of the General Music Board.
Mason also served on an advisory committee regarding the aesthetic development of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
He is married to Lynne Galbraith and they have three children and ten grandchildren.