Mason Fish

ABOUT

Mason

The following brief biography focuses on the passions that have guided my life thus far. In the interest of holding the reader's attention, I will attempt to keep things relatively brief!

My story

I have a pretty easy time finding things that fascinate me. Considering how many hobbies I have dabbled in, I'm a little surprised that I don't try to identify more as a "jack of all trades" sort. In many ways that kind of thinking sounds very exciting to me, especially my DIY tendencies. But in the end, I actually prefer to pursue a more 'specialized' lifestyle than that of a 'generalist'.

I have been playing music for most of my life. It is difficult to remember when I wasn't playing music, but I think my first piano lessons came when I was around eight years old. I don't think I liked it that much, but I can't really say why because, well, I was eight. I think I just wanted to play video games all day back then. It was a somewhat directionless time in my life but I am actually really happy to have that in my childhood because this was when I was first opening up and tinkering with computers. If I wanted to play the best games, it seemed necessary to build better machines. And while I had been learning different instruments at the same time as this, it wasn't until I was thirteen years old that music really won over my full attention. It was at this age that I first heard Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto, fell in love with classical music, and then began to study guitar. And I stopped playing video games all the time.

Once I knew what I wanted to do it was easy to focus my efforts toward moving in that direction. I practiced guitar a lot throughout high school, attended my first choice of music conservatories for both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees, won a few competitions, and formed an internationally touring and professionally managed contemporary music ensemble, Mobius Trio.

I'm really glad I have invested so much of my life studying and performing music, and am grateful for the experiences it keeps bringing me. I tend to see the world through a lense colored and focused by my experiences with music. To an extent, that is. I don't think I will ever find a way to see the task of paying taxes as anything more than a mundane chore. No music there. But the same learning skills, discipline, and critical thinking strategies that inform my approach to music are just as helpful with other aspects of life, especially when dealing with subjective content, like artistic design decisions. Whenever I have to discriminate among many possible 'correct' answers, I can just problem solve as if it were a passage of music.

When I first tumbled down the computer science 'rabbit hole', it started with designing a new website for the Trio. Thanks to my music studies I felt comfortable navigating through such a subjective environment, and I thought web design would be a useful skill to have. As a result of practicing music by myself for several thousand hours, I've become pretty good at self-directed learning. Practicing music is really just sitting down and teaching yourself to do something, hopefully following some guidelines offered by a mentor of sorts.

When I decided to teach myself website design I started using resources on Lynda.com to learn some design-specific practices as well as to learn some basics in working with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. But it wasn't long before I wanted to actually build the designs I was playing around with. So I went a little deeper and began to use Lynda.com to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

At that point, I was getting a taste for front-end web development, not just design. It felt pretty gratifying to actually see the functional results of my design brainstorming. I also began to see that a website is its own art medium - and a very unique one at that! What other art is inherently designed to be mutable (or responsive) enough to reorganize it's own composition based on a particular screen/canvas size? It was a fascinating new idea to me, so I kept digging deeper. I found JavaScript to be wildly different than HTML, CSS, and anything within the realm of design. I wanted to understand it better, so I began to study Python in order to learn more about data structures, algorithms, and other fundamental computer concepts.

This recent computer-focused part of my life has only blossomed in the last year, so when I say that I "learned" Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, CSS, JS, and Python, what I really mean to say is that I began to learn each of these things. I discovered how much I enjoy each of them, and am fully aware that I have barely scratched the surface of these languages and tools. I am a beginner. But I'm a really happy beginner! And I am starting to identify as a person who has two primary and complementary interests: Music and Computers. And I am relly looking forward to learning more and discovering how these two passions will inform one another and enrich the joy and meaning of my life.