TCHS Rampage

Temple City High School


January 17, 2017

Fessenden pursues his path in music


Despite being unable to see the world around him, Sophomore Mason Fessenden could feel the adrenaline rushing throughout his body as he enunciated his lines and song lyrics for the musical “Annie.” He performed in the International Full Gospel Fellowship of Los Angeles Church from Dec. 8 to 11.
Fessenden’s performance as Bert Healy in “Annie” is the first time he has performed onstage for a sighted audience. In his past appearances, his audiences were visually impaired like him.
“I was nervous and excited at the same time,” Fessenden said. “Actually, I was more excited than nervous because I knew my lines perfectly fine, and I was confident that I would not make any mistakes. I felt blessed that I was performing in front of sighted folk.”
Although Fessenden was born with the inability to see, he has always found his passion and comfort in music.
Fessenden’s interest in music first began at the age of three, when Fessenden’s friend, Rex Lewis-Clack, a member of the Academy of Music for the Blind, appeared on “60 Minutes.” Lewis-Clack inspiried Fessenden greatly and caused him to grow up loving music.
Throughout his life, Fessenden has sang multiple times for Academy of Music for the Blind and the Young Men’s Choir of the Braille Institute in Los Angeles.
Upon meeting one of his music teachers, Ms. Eileen Roberts, Fessenden started playing the piano at four, singing when he was five and performing onstage when he was eight. Ms. Roberts has taught Fessenden to properly sing in a high pitch, and he is now learning how to sing two songs made famous by Josh Groban: “Believe” and “Not While I’m Around.” Ms. Keely Milliken, another one of Fessenden’s music teachers, also has guided Fessenden with voice lessons for the past year.
At school, Fessenden enjoys singing in the choir and socializing with his friends and other students. He spends most of his time in school around rooms 308 and 309 with Mr. Albert Zapata, his visual aid guide. Mr. Zapata and Fessenden are close friends, and they sing together while they are walking around.
Fessenden’s special education teacher Mr. Nathan Slaymaker has had him as a student for two years, this school year being the second.
“Mason is a pleasure to have in class,” Mr. Slaymaker said. “He has a vivid imagination that I think helps him in his performing. I know he loves putting on a show and enjoys putting smiles on people’s faces.”
When he is alone, Fessenden often explores his interest in music and technology. He keeps a constant rhythm in his head, and makes recordings of small jazz style tunes on his computer. He also enjoys other hobbies such as skiing and swimming.
Fessenden’s role in “Annie” has became well known across the media, as he was interviewed by both ABC7 and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. After his theatrical apperance onstage, Fessenden has yet to decide on what to do next.
Currently, Fessenden is honing his musical skills to the best of his ability. In the future, Fessenden aims to perform in Carnegie Hall. He and Ms. Roberts plan to film a YouTube documentary called “The Long Road to Carnegie Hall,” featuring Fessenden and his path to achieving his dream.

About the Author

William Lu
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