Ben McCarroll-Butler

Toronto Clarinet & Saxophone Teacher

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

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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Mid-week homework reminder: Dec 11

Happy holidays! I hope you all have a lovely, restful break. I’ll see Ryan, Alex and Camille for makeup lessons next week, and the rest of you when our lessons start up again on January 8th.


  1. Learn Passion Dance melody (metronome on every beat at 160 bpm – build to recording tempo)
  2. practice G mixolydian scale and triad pairing (handout)
  3. Listen to So What by Miles Davis, playing along to melody. Try improvising along to the sections using our dorian scales:
    • E minor dorian (Em11 in music), from D major scale
    • F minor dorian (Fm11 in music), from Eb major scale


I apologize, but I forgot to take a photo of your homework this week! Here’s a reminder to look back in your book and spend some quality time with your sax before you head away on holiday.


  1. Continue melody of In A Sentimental Mood, playing along to this recording (music starts after the beautiful poem at 0:56). Also, check out these recordings – they’re in different keys, so you can’t play along – but they are examples of great phrasings of this melody.
    1. John Coltrane
    2. Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Listen to Passion Dance by McCoy Tyner and learn melody slowly.
  3. Continue work from Elementary Method.


  1. Note naming exercise.
  2. Learn When The Saints Go Marching In by ear, using your page as a starting point. Also give this recording a listen – it’s in a different key, but has a great feeling!
  3. Galper 34, 36


  1. You have the same ear homework as Alex this week – perhaps you can play this song together! Learn When The Saints Go Marching In by ear, using your page as a starting point. Also give this recording a listen – it’s in a different key, but has a great feeling!
  2. Galper 36, 45, 47


Remember to always tongue a the firm tongue this week – tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed!

  1. Continue Voxman duet: ‘Air’.
  2. Continue C major scale – remember when octave key goes down (everything above D!)
  3. Alouette pg 26 of school book.
  4. #139 from pg 29 of school book.
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Preferred Books for TCHRNAME Students

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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.

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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.

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‘Our Choice’ Lessons & Classes in January 2019

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