Saxophonist Ben Britton is an active educator and performer in the U.S. and a published scholar. His talents as a musician and composer were first nationally recognized in 2007 when he was selected to participate in a residency at the Kennedy Center as part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. Following that, Britton recorded and performed with both world-renowned musicians like Chris Potter and Bobby Sanabria as well as rising stars from the younger generation. He has made two recordings as a leader: Uncertain Living with guest artist Chris Potter, and an EP titled Children at Play, featuring Philadelphia-based musicians and a unique brand of jazz with influences ranging from African music to modern rock. He also performed on the album Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!!, which was nominated for best Latin Jazz Album at the 2011 Latin Grammys. In 2012, Britton participated in two national saxophone competitions, placing as a finalist in the Detroit Jazz Festival National Saxophone Competition and winning the First Annual Charlie Parker Cutting Contest hosted by NPR's 12th Street Jump. During his recent time in Rochester, NY, Britton has had the opportunity to perform as a featured soloist on premieres of works by Dave Rivello, a significant composer for large jazz ensembles, and has had the opportunity to perform with fantastic and important jazz musicians such as Harold Danko, Clay Jenkins, Vic Juris, and Scott Colley.
As a music educator, Britton has been teaching music for over a decade. He has held adjunct teaching positions at several colleges, including the University of Pennsylvania where he taught jazz saxophone and directed a jazz combo. He has published two method books for saxophone, which have been endorsed by heavy-hitter saxophonists Dave Liebman, Ben Wendel, Walt Weiskopf, and Charles Pillow; one of the texts is used in the saxophone seminar taught by the renowned Steve Wilson at City College of New York. Britton has taught private lessons throughout his teaching career, working with students of all ages (young beginners to professional players). He has also taught masterclasses at many venues including colleges, high schools, and elementary schools. Britton has written educational articles for various publications, including Saxophone Life Magazine, Engaging Students(an academic peer-reviewed journal), and his personal saxophone blog, which is the number one saxophone blog on Google.
In his own training, Britton has had the opportunity of studying with significant modern saxophonists, including Chris Potter, Rich Perry, Steve Wilson, Walt Weiskopf, Charles Pillow, George Garzone, and Chien-Kwan Lin. He completed a doctorate and bachelor's degree in at Eastman School of Music and a master's degree at Manhattan School of Music.
I help students find personal fulfillment though overcoming musical challenges and through their enjoyment of playing. Starting out, I engage students by helping them enjoy playing their instruments. If students are creating sounds they like and the instrument feels comfortable, they are much more likely to enjoy playing music. I also pick repertoire that is sufficiently challenging but also appeals to students. If the music is too simple, then there is no feeling of accomplishment as they work on it. Also students should be given the opportunity to learn new and unfamiliar music, though if it is unappealing, students won't be sufficiently motivated to work on it. I consider students' input on the kind of music they enjoy as I build up and expand their repertoire and their ability.
Secondly, I teach each student to become a complete musician. My students learn to understand the music they hear, and how their individual contributions fit in. Not only do they learn to read music, they learn to use their ears to recognize their role within a group setting. They learn about song forms, which helps them better understand how to perform a piece. We focus on sound. In terms of technical facility, students play their best when they love their sound. I help them get to that point by teaching them and motivating them to develop their technique and overcome any obstacles. Overall, my students learn to use their ears and musical knowledge along with written music, memory, and a healthy technical facility to become the best musicians they can be.