Ben’s musical journey began at six when his mom began teaching him piano lessons. This didn’t last very long however, as his fascination with brass instruments soon took over. When he was seven years old, he heard a Maynard Ferguson cover of It Don’t Mean A Thing. Blown away (literally) by his powerful sound and awed by the trumpet’s power, all he could listen to was jazz. So he became so obsessed with becoming a horn player that he started buzzing into PVC pipes long before he even picked up the trumpet.
WHAT TRAINING / EDUCATION HAVE YOU COMPLETED AND WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES?
My musical training consisted of more than just private lessons, however. I also held principle positions in my high school’s wind
ensemble, jazz band, and symphony orchestra while also performing in All-State ensembles and competing each year in the Washington State Solo and Ensemble Contest. After graduating, I enrolled at Western Washington University, where I continue to hold top positions in WWU’s Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, and Big Band while taking private lessons with Seattle Freelancer Vince Green. However, the college has also proven to be a place where I drastically expanded my musical horizons.
As a freshman, I began playing around with music production and realized that I have a knack for songwriting. At the beginning of
my sophomore year, I purchased Ableton Live along with a full audio production set. I went into this hobby understanding that I needed to develop many new skills if I wanted to take this seriously (i.e, singing, sound design, paying guitar, etc.), so I spent the entire year developing this craft as a creative side hustle. That following summer I joined a nine-person pop-funk group called Analog Brass that had recently formed at the college. Here, I also began composing arrangements with our band’s sousaphone player, further developing my skills in composition and songwriting. I’m currently the band’s lead trumpeter and a contributing songwriter.
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU OVERCOME TO GET WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, BOTH PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY?
When I was about four years old, I was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder that essentially classified as a learning disability. The school was quite challenging for me throughout my younger years, and when I expressed interest in music at ages six and seven, my school therapist actually told my parents that I wouldn’t be able to succeed as a musician because of my listening impediment. Instead, however, I think music actually taught me how to listen effectively. I was able to focus on every little subtlety within any musical arrangement that spiked my interest, and I’d finally found a reason to truly listen because music enticed me at such a high level.
At thirteen, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in my finger joints. To avoid stiffness that would hinder my dexterity, I endured weekly shot medications and daily anti-inflammatory pills for over two years before it eventually went into remission. Had I not received this treatment, the disease likely would’ve spread to other joints and prevented me from playing trumpet effectively (or really any instrument that requires fingers).
Professionally, I think the greatest struggle I’ve experienced thus far in my career is learning to avoid marrying myself to ideas that excite me. This tendency has made it difficult for me to progress on certain projects because commitment biases almost always stifle progress. I’ve overcome this tendency by working collaboratively. It can be difficult to come to grips with abandoning a previously conceived idea when you have nothing but your own mind to provide feedback. The creative process goes astronomically faster with even just one other brain, and I’ve also found that conversing with others throughout a project makes it much easier to see other perspectives and let certain ideas go, or at least accept that possibility.
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME OUTSIDE OF WORK? INCLUDING HOBBIES, INTERESTS, SPORTS, FAMILY, AND VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES?
When I’m not working on my craft, I enjoy spending time hiking, weightlifting, reading (especially books on self-development), and playing a relatively new, fun game called Spike Ball. If I’m spending time with friends and/or family, my favorite social locations include beaches, lakes, or really anywhere with a refreshing body of water.
I’ve also worked as a social advocate throughout college; in 2018 I directed, produced, and oversaw a music video project to raise money for International Justice Mission while spreading awareness around the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking. My roles consisted of leading over 50 musicians, cinematographers, audio engineers, and student advocates while engaging IJM college chapters throughout the US and Canada to leverage promotional efforts on multiple platforms.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF YOU WERE NOT A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
If it weren’t for music, I’d probably be an event manager for a live entertainment company (assuming COVID didn’t exist). I love organizing creative projects and bringing groups of people together to experience amazing, immersive experiences. If you were to ask myself, a friend, colleague, or even acquaintance about my personality, the common denominator traits would be high levels of ambition, extraversion, work ethic, and conscientiousness.
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