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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Practice Post for Feb 5th-12th


#1. Note Naming Exercise.
#2. Continue 10-20 warmup, 5 times every practice session (it’ll only take 2 minutes and 30 seconds and you’ll have had a wonderful warmup for your air support!
#3. Continue our work from the blue book. Remember to use a metronome.


#1. Note naming exercise.
#2. Continue overtone warmup – aim for the most consistent transition between overtone and fingered pitch.
#3. Major Scale exercise ascending and descending at 70 bpm.
#4. pg 37. #2
#5. Listen to So What by Miles Davis and try playing the melody along to the recording. The music on your page starts when the piano comes in at around 35 seconds into the recording, so you can start playing with the piano instead of when the horns come in at bar 9.


#1. Note Naming exercise.
#2. Galper 55, 82,92.
#3. Continue G pentatonic scale into the next register.
#4. Apologies for the long wait time on sending these recordings, but here they are! A few versions of When The Saints:

Try playing the melody along to this one, then try riffing on the pentatonic scale and filling in the spaces in the melody like the clarinet on the recording!

This is another great version to listen to, but in a different key (so don’t play along):


This week, focus on keeping steady, consistent time. Try tapping your foot to quarter notes and feeling how the rhythms you’re playing fit on or between the beats. Can you keep your foot on a steady rhythm?
#1. Note naming exercise.
#2. Galper 56, 59, 85.


#1. Warm up with 10-20 exercise – use a clock, watch or metronome set to 60 bpm to count seconds. Remember, a good exhale is only possible with a good inhale. Try it 5 times in a row and keep a mental note of how many seconds you can hold the note. Does it gets better by the 5th time?
#2. Shake it Off

  • practice along to a metronome at 60 bpm. It’s slow, but if you’re able to get the melody steady at this tempo it’ll be much easier to speed up!
  • Remember our new notes: G# (G with the top pinky key of your left hand) and C# (no fingers down!)

#3. Continue Quick Dance. Watch out for your posture and position of your left arm and hand – remember, if you lift from your wrist (not your elbow or shoulder) you can avoid hitting the palm keys and squeaking.

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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