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Our Teachers

Ben McDonnell

Ben McDonnell studied at the Guitar Institute and Leeds College of Music. He has been teaching since he graduated and he is currently professor of guitar at the Conservatoire. In the past, Ben has taught for Kingston University, Michael Garrick’s Jazz Summer School, WAC and Brent Music Service. Teaching has always been a rewarding part of Ben’s career, and he enjoys working with both beginners and advanced students.

Ben has performed with many jazz artists including Rachel Musson (chosen for ‘BBC Presents’) as well as English jazz veteran Mike Garrick in venues including the Royal Albert Hall, O2 Indigo and Hampton Court Palace. Ben’s style has been described in the press as "jazz with a dash of Hendrix" (EDP 2010). Ben has also been involved in many session gigs and recordings including folk/pop artist, Sarah Schillari (universal artist), Lunic (US rock band ‘Sell-a-band’ winner) and Naran (Mongolian superstar!).

He demonstrated at two London guitar shows with the magazine 'All Out Guitar'. He also writes for allaboutjazz.com and has a popular lessons blog and YouTube lessons.

Currently Ben is involved with a number of musical projects, including Ballestra, a modern jazz sextet; Aleph Trio, a jazz trio and Glass Pear, a pop act who can be heard on American TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy. Ben has performed in countless venues all over the world, including the main stage of the Royal Albert Hall, King’s Place, O2 Indigo, Hampton Court Palace, Cultural Palace (Mongolia), The Rex (Toronto, Canada), Charlie Wright’s and The Roundhouse.

Ben composes music for the ensembles he works with; his music has been used in theatrical plays and performed in visual arts projects at the Roundhouse. His playing can be heard on the following albums, which are available internationally: Welcome to My Heart, Naran 2009 and Picture from Jitske, Vicky Tilson Quartet 2010.

Ben has appeared on radio and television and in numerous magazines and newspapers including BBC Radio 3, Pop Mongolia, B4U, Fender Frontline, CNA, CDNews and Eastern Daily Press. He was probably the first musician to take a guitar to Mount Everest base camp, a story covered by Fender Magazine (http://www.fender.com/en-GB/news/index.php?display_article=220)

Check out Ben's website: http://www.benmcdonnell.co.uk

If Ben were stranded on a desert island, he would like to have with him:
Miles Davis, A Kind of BlueJimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love
The 'Calder' style mobile he made with Ying
William Eggleston's Guide
A collection of Jorge Luis Borges short stories

"I love to teach because I love music and helping people to make music is a privilege. And it's fun!"