Ben’s passion for music extends beyond teaching as he is also a professional musician performing in jazz groups as a double bassist. Ben sings and plays the electric bass and guitar and has played professionally in Australia, Italy, Germany and India and also live on radio and television.
What music did you learn as a student?
My first love was classic rock. I spent hours upon hours learning Rolling Stones, Beatles, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin music. I was the stereotypical teenager jumping up and down on my bed with a guitar playing along to music as loudly as possible. In Year 11, a teacher introduced me to jazz music which has since become my primary musical love.
What skills are important to be a successful music teacher?
Music education requires a deep understanding of the mechanics of music: rhythm, harmony, melody, skills on a range of instruments, strong performance skills and a solid understanding of vocal technique. But, perhaps more importantly, is the ability to convey and facilitate the learning of this information in ways developmentally appropriate for students.
Employing a range of strategies to build a student’s performance confidence is also critical. As I’ve become more experienced as a teacher, I’ve realised that every student’s journey is very different; understanding their individual motivations and developing a supportive culture conducive to create risk-taking and exploration are vitally important.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It is an absolute joy working with students across all age groups. The enthusiasm of younger students is wonderful and inspiring. It is a privilege to be able to introduce students to songs, dances, instruments, and genres of music at a younger age and see this blossom into a love for music. For senior students, I love witnessing the growth of their skills and the emergence of talented, motivated musicians and artists. I am regularly blown away by spectacular virtuosic classical performances, expressive rock and musical theatre performance, beautiful songs written by students and incredible compositions.
Has it helped in your teaching being a professional musician?
Probably the main area of experience I draw on are the strategies I’ve developed to overcome performance anxiety. I’ve prepared for many stressful and at times intimidating performances and recording dates. I draw from my own experience when creating individual strategies with students but also try to replicate the culture of support, joy, and friendship that I’ve felt when musical projects have been at their most successful.