Ben McCarroll-Butler

Toronto Clarinet & Saxophone Teacher

Ben McCarroll-ButlerABC Academy of Music2018-08-28T22:00:46-04:00

Project Description

B.Mus (Humber)

Ben McCarroll-Butler is a saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist and composer living in Toronto.

Ben grew up surrounded by many deep musical traditions: Folk, Rock, Presbyterian choral music, Chamber Music and Jazz. Growing up in a musical family he sang, learned the guitar and piano before picking up the saxophone and other woodwinds. All of these traditions influence Ben’s teaching, playing and writing today.

A graduate of Humber College, Ben is a member of many jazz ensembles including Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra (SSJO), We Are All, The Near-Distant Ensemble as well as the funk group Bassline, the improvising group The Element Choir and the folk group Decoration Day. Ben leads and co-leads his own groups the Ben McCarroll-Butler Group and The Band Named Crow, a large ensemble premiering works based on the surreal novels of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

As a composer with Spectrum Music, Ben premiers 2-4 new large-scale chamber jazz works a year. Spectrum programs themed concerts full of original music, crossing genre divides, connecting communities and telling compelling musical stories that resonate with audiences. Ben’s writing and arranging has been recognized with the 2016 Ken Page Memorial Trust Award In Memory of Ron Collier, the 2015 Dave Stillwell Arranging Award and the 2015 Spectrum Music ‘New Voices’ Young Composer’s Residency.

In his teaching, Ben aims to create an environment that encourages the student to identify and follow their interests – keeping the passion of making music at the heart of education.

Get to know Ben…Beyond the Bio!

Hobbies: reading, cooking, long-distance running.

Musical influences: Wayne Shorter, David Binney, Sam Amidon, Erik Satie, Ambrose Akinmusire, Thelonious Monk

Favourite food: Ful Medames (fava beans)

Least favourite food: Mulled tomatoes

Favourite music: Anything from the heart!

Favourite song: One of Us Cannot be Wrong – Leonard Cohen

Favourite movie: Cloud Atlas

Favourite movie music: Arrival soundtrack

Favourite musical theatre/opera: Rent

Best quote from your teacher: “Failure is much less painful than regret” – Michael Stuart

Favourite quote: “You gotta be careful; this music will make you weep” – Jamie Howison on the music of John Coltrane (from God’s Mind in that Music)

Favourite book: The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

Best thing about teaching at ABC: Getting excited about music with my students!

Latest Homework from Ben

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Homework Post: May 28-June 4th


#1. Overtone warmup – practice with full air support, aiming for a strong, steady sound and very little embouchure tension.

#2. Hooked on a Feeling – practice at 100 bpm, remembering tonguing

#3. Tonguing exercise at 90 bpm (2 notes per click)

#4. Continue blues material (Equinox) from last week (here’s it is again):
Play solo, and along to this backing track:

  • Melody of Equinox
  • Improvising using your ear / pentatonic scale
  • Quarter note arpeggio exercise (playing notes of chords from your chord chart in different octaves)

#5. Elementary Method pg 14 #7: slur eighth notes and tongue quarters. Remember F#’s!


#1. Continue overtone scale exercise, building to step 3.

#2. Memorize ‘Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle’: the order of sharps!

#3. Db major scale (from Voxman or page in book)L build from 70-80 bpm.

#4. Chromatic major scales: practice at 70-80 bpm, forwards and backwards. Aim for fluidity and focus on any parts that are hard for you.

#5. ‘Amen’: listen to the first 2 choruses from the recording, then play the first chorus along to a metronome at 120 bpm.

#6. Continue the Voxman piece, adding the next 6 bars. Practice at a tempo that you can play it perfectly, then speed up.


#1. Ab major scale, quarter note = 60 bpm (3 notes per beat)

#2. Continue Galper 136 and 134. Keep track of your tempos for 134 this week; what tempo feels natural and easy, and what is the tempo you built to after a week of practice? Try speeding it up by 5 or 10 bpm each session.

#3. Galper 131

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Preferred Books for TCHRNAME Students

Click to buy them here, and they’ll come right to your house!  What could be easier?

The Galper Clarinet Method

Volume 1

Cover of The Galper Clarinet Method Book

Buy on Amazon

Basic Elementary Method for Saxophone

One of the most widely used series of methods for individual or like-instrument class instruction. Using a very well-rounded approach including scales, arpeggios, technical studies, studies for musicianship, articulation studies, solos, duets, and studies.

Buy on Amazon

Selected Duets

for Saxophone

Cover of Selected Duets for Saxophone (Voxman)

This classic series of duets for like instruments is recognizable to nearly everyone who has ever studied an instrument. The wealth of material supplements musical development and provides a rich experience for growing musicians.

Buy on Amazon

Selected Studies for Saxophone

Cover of Selected Studies for Saxophone (Voxman)

These excellent studies are the next step for students who have completed the advanced level method for their instrument. The full-page etudes in this series, key-centered and supported by scale and arpeggio exercises, take the student to that next level of performance wherein their accumulated skills allow them to play full-length performance pieces with a high level of musicianship and competence. As such, many states include these pieces in their all-state audition lists.

Buy on Amazon