Ben attends Pine-Richland High School where he is a senior. He plays acoustic and electric guitar, tenor sax, ukulele, banjo, and piano. Ben began his academic career at CYM in the “Babies” class when he was not even one year old, and has been continuously enrolled at CYM for eighteen years! Ben could read notes before he could recognize letters. After the Toddlers class, Ben began with Mark Marston as a Twinkler, then took up Classical Guitar in the Suzuki program. Aside from CYM, Marching Band was a favorite school activity. At school Ben was a member of the National Honor Society and Ski Club, Vice President of Math Club, and Founder and President of Bike Club. Ben volunteered his time playing guitar and helping with Sunday School at Temple Ohav Shalom. He played Soccer and Tennis for his school teams, and holds a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Ben will take his memories of CYM and his music with him to the University of Pittsburgh, where he plans to study Computer Science.
From Mr. Mark:
- I have had the honor of being Ben’s teacher for longer than I have with any student in my career so far. Ben was in one of my first Twinkler classes when I returned to CYM, and is now the first student I have taken all the way from early childhood music through all nine of the Suzuki guitar books. Ben has been part of just about every milestone of my time at CYM, including many performances on the Saturday Light Brigade radio program, the annual performances at Wintergarden, the first guitar Chamber Music classes, as well as many solo and ensemble recitals. I’ve also watched him work with other students at Suzuki Institutes and other workshops.
- If I had to pick one part of Ben’s character that has impressed me the most, it would be how he balances a strong desire to learn independently with a willingness to learn from others with an open mind. Ben has always polished music that I had assigned until he could perform it at a high level, but he also often surprised me with music he discovered on his own. And usually this music was very challenging! He also made his own arrangements of favorite songs, and branched out into jazz and piano on his own. Just this year, he had prepared to play in his school’s orchestra pit, which is always a challenging experience for a classical guitarist, but even more so as his part included switching between guitar, banjo, and ukulele. And he played them all well.
- I am having trouble imagining the time when I will not have regular lessons with Ben any longer, but I know that as he moves on to college and beyond, he will take the abilities he has developed and be able to excel in whatever paths his life takes. Ben, we all wish you well!
From Ben’s Mom:
- When I reflect on the 18 years I spent at CYM with Ben (and the time before that, with his older sister Julia), you might expect that what would come to mind would be the exciting times playing on the radio, at museums and Heinz Hall, and even in the White House. But that’s not it. Most memorable to me is the focused time I spent with my children, day in and day out, as their home teacher. Practicing at home. Practicing at their grandparents’ homes. Practicing in hotel rooms. Practicing at the beach and poolside. Practicing on ski resort balconies. Ben remembers practicing guitar in our moving car once, buckled into his booster seat. Julia practiced cello once at a highway rest stop. We didn’t have instruments with us, but for one week during a 200 Day Practice Challenge, we even “practiced” (reading music) on a cruise ship.
- Ben is our youngest. Parents of grown children know that childhood is fleeting. If not seized in the moment, those chances to spend time with our children at any particular stage will never come again. While our children learned music and perseverance at CYM, my parent takeaway is different. Just like parenthood itself, being home teacher for my children was a challenge. But the value of those precious moments spent together, every day over the many years, fighting and loving each other at the same time, learning to work together, is immeasurable. The days are long but the years are short, and I’m so glad we spent them making music together!
From Ms. Victoria:
- The long-term commitment of the Solomon Family has given vibrancy to the stated mission of our music school. Seeing the pictures shared here brings amazement and a few tears! and makes us reflect on why we still want to study and play music – to be ready to meaningfully connect with others, at any age, in any venue, for any reason. Ben (and Julia) you have done just that, with quiet yet steady affability, and we are so proud of you!
- Thank you for sticking with your lessons and practice, for the generosity with which you regularly shared through performance, and for the kindnesses you showed your teachers and fellow students. We are grateful. Congratulations Ben!