Guitar and Banjo Instructor



Benjamin Thomas

Benjamin’s life long pursuit of music began at the age of 6 when he studied piano and grooved along to his father’s recordings of Dave Brubeck, The Rollings Stones, and various classical recordings. After several years of lessons, he moved on to alto saxophone, steel drums, and harmonica as he participated and led many of his middle school and high school ensembles.

Benjamin’s life was forever changed one day, though, when he was 15 and heard several tracks of Muddy Waters singing and playing the guitar. The raw, emotional intensity of the music led him down the road of learning as much as possible about the blues and, ultimately, learning to play the guitar himself. Within a year of playing guitar, he started his own Blues/Rock band, “Aces High”, and played frequently around Central Ohio at clubs, The Pickerington Blues Festival, The Hot Licks Blues Fest, Creekside Blues Festival, and various Columbus Blues Association events. Seen as a young talent in the scene, Benjamin was mentored by the amazing blues guitarist and singer, Sean Carney (International Blues Challenge Winner).

All of his passion for music and playing guitar led Benjamin to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where he focused on Jazz Guitar. He studied with local jazz giants, James E. Smith, Kim Pensyl, and Phil DeGreg and was sent on a special study abroad program to Brazil to give workshops and performances. By the time he graduated in 2011, Benjamin was performing jazz regularly around the Midwest in various ensembles and as a sideman.

During his time at CCM, Benjamin joined forces with several other CCM students to create the band, The Happy Maladies. The ensemble blends the acoustic sounds of violin, banjo, double bass, guitar, and mandolin into fresh textures and through-composed sonic adventures. Now having been together for close to six years, The Happy Maladies have released two albums, been nominated by CityBeat for “Best New Artist” (2009) and “Album of the Year” (2012), and toured extensively around the United States.

Aside from The Happy Maladies, Benjamin has been busy working on his side project, Whitfield Crocker, that features his songwriting, singing, and more electrified soundscapes. He plans to have a full length album recorded and released by Spring of 2014 and tour dates to follow.

Benjamin has always considered himself a lifelong student and is always gathering new techniques, ideas, and methods for better teaching his own students. Having taught at the West Chester Academy of Music, Madeira Music School, and privately, he has years of experience in helping others reach the next tier of their playing, listening, and collaborating. Blending a mix of ear training, sight-reading, improvisation, music theory, Benjamin loves creating the best combination of topics to enhance your studies and help motivate your drive to practice and achieve.


What Benjamin’s Students are saying:

“Ben has ignited our son’s interest and enthusiasm for playing the acoustic guitar!  Ben’s skillful teaching and ability to relate to his students…has helped our son steadily progress in his playing ability.  As a parent, I feel that, more importantly, Ben has been an outstanding role model to our adolescent son who looks up to him tremendously.” – Joy B.