As a young child growing up in Kansas City and Wyoming, Sarah would carry around a tape recorder and pick out song melodies, connecting music with everyday life. She began taking piano lessons in elementary school and even studied violin for two years. By the time she reached high school, Sarah was teaching herself and playing piano in several groups. Not interested in the spotlight, Sarah wrote songs, accompanied soloists on piano, and sang harmony, a decision she credits for developing her vocal talent and teaching ear. Graduating from Blue Springs High School in 2001, Sarah started her college career as a scholarship cross country runner for Colorado Christian University before realizing that music was not simply a passion but a potential occupation. Sarah transferred to UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance where she graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music. During her senior year at UMKC, Sarah taught piano to kids with autism and other disabilities, finding the work rewarding and exciting. This led her to create the Mason Music Foundation, a non-profit arm of Mason Music designed to serve low-income children as well as children with developmental disabilities.
When she’s not teaching, Sarah enjoys creating new culinary dishes, reading, painting and spending time outside.
Will received his first instrument (a Casio Keyboard) when he was six years old. After six years of formal piano lessons, he switched to the electric guitar. It was then Will began discovering the world of music beyond classical piano. Two years later Will played his first ‘paying’ gig at his junior high yearbook signing. Each band member was paid $5. In high school, Will played with various young local musicians, the band lineups forming and reforming amongst a collection of friends. After graduating from Mountain Brook High School in 2001, Will studied at Furman and Birmingham Southern before pouring himself completely into the band Moses Mayfield. A live concert DVD recording and a New York City showcase later, Will and the band signed with Epic Records, recording an album in Los Angeles and touring the country with a number of national acts including Switchfoot, NeedtoBreathe, and Pete Yorn until 2007.
After settling back in Birmingham, Will began teaching guitar by working with Sarah’s increasing surplus of students. Despite growing up in a family of teachers, Will didn’t fully realize that he too had become a teacher until two years after he and Sarah started Mason Music. In addition to teaching, Will works as a producer and engineer in his home recording studio.
The story of Mason Music began when Will and Sarah met in 2006. Home from touring nationally as the guitarist for Moses Mayfield, Will was introduced to Sarah while she was visiting Birmingham on her summer break from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Almost immediately, the young couple began writing and performing music together.
Will and Sarah married in 2007 and settled in Birmingham. Working as a waitress and searching for a job in music, Sarah began teaching piano part time. What began as a side job driving to and from client’s homes to teach piano or voice, quickly developed into an exciting opportunity. Will had been working part time in construction since leaving his band, and as Sarah’s teaching schedule filled, she referred students interested in guitar to Will. Suddenly, husband and wife were both teaching music and the couple saw their profile in the community rise and their client list increase. Mason Music grew quickly by word of mouth, and by the fall of 2008 the couple’s teaching schedules had swelled to capacity. Tapping into their network of friends in the Birmingham music scene, Will and Sarah recruited new teachers by targeting talented, high character musicians who performed and recorded regularly and had a passion for music.
“I believe it is a teacher’s first responsibility to convince a student that the material is worth learning. In the case of guitar, this is very easy.”
Since then, Mason Music has continued to grow, striving to inspire students in light of the hard work and dedication required for learning to play music. Will and Sarah do not view their students as customers and their teachers as employees. Instead, the young entrepreneurs believe they are creating a music family: a community of students, parents, and teachers who enjoy learning and playing music together. In April of 2012, Mason Music opened its doors in Cahaba Heights and welcomed new teachers and students into what Will and Sarah had begun 5 years earlier. After being open only 10 months, Mason Music had to start adding interested families to a waiting list. It quickly became apparent that more room was needed. After doing some research into where their customer base was strongest, Will and Sarah decided to open up a Mountain Brook Studio in September of 2013, a Bluff Park Studio in April of 2015 and a Greystone Studio in January of 2017. Will and Sarah make their home in Cahaba Heights and enjoy spending time with their two children, Alice and Liam.
Site photography by: Mountainside Photo Co.
What the Birmingham community is saying about Will, Sarah and Mason Music:
Feature story in Portico Magazine's Spring 2016 Issue
Hoover Magazine's spotlight on Mason Music's third location in Bluff Park
al.com profile on Will, Sarah and our music lesson program