Teacher Spotlight on Jeremiah Benham, guitar
March 1st, 2019
Interview by Erin Cano, violin
Jeremiah joined MIC in 2017 as a Suzuki guitar teacher.
What led you to become a Suzuki teacher?
I felt that learning and teaching are very similar processes. In order to be a good teacher, you must be a good student. In order to be a good student, you must be good at teaching yourself. Focusing on the beginning stages allows me to set a solid foundation in which students can grow, because these students will become the future of music.
Which of your teachers inspired you the most? What aspects of their teaching have you integrated into your own style?
Mark Maxwell drastically improved my tone and technique. Both Dr. Wesley Vos and Mark Maxwell gave me an interest in history. This has inspired me to give students a little historical background about the composers and musical techniques. Dr. Sheldon Atovsky improved my ears, which really opened up my imagination. Susan Jackson improved my rhythm with the Rhythm Bible book. Scott Mercer improved my ear and taught me to write jazz arrangements for a solo guitar or an ensemble. Bob Palmari and Mark Maxwell taught me some metronome tricks that also helped me improve my rhythm.
What is your favorite Suzuki piece to teach?
My favorite Suzuki piece to teach is Are You Sleeping Brother, John. In a group, this piece can allow students of many different levels to participate. No matter how experienced they are, I can still challenge them with this piece. I can also include pre-twinklers with an ostinato using open strings.
You have performed extensively as a soloist and in ensembles. What are some memorable performance experiences that you’ve had?
I enjoyed playing with Columbia University's percussion ensemble in a rendition of Frankenstein by Edgar Winter. It was such a cool sound to play a driving piece with so many percussion instruments. I have performed at Concordia University in a program featuring pieces from Robert Dowland’s Musical Banquet. I also enjoyed playing at an Indiana government building representing the talent of Vincennes University at the Awards for Excellence. It was quite an honor.
Do you play any other instruments besides the guitar? If not, what other instrument would you like to play?
I also play piano, keyboards, and bass guitar. I have performed on the mandolin, banjo and ukulele before, but I am less comfortable with them. I wish I could play the upright bass or an orchestra instrument. I think it would be cool to have a union orchestra gig.
Do you have any upcoming projects or performances about which you would like to share some information?
I currently play keyboards in a band at the Another Chance Church in Merillville, Indiana.