- Career Highlights
- Doctorate of musical arts with dissertation from University of Texas at Austin
- Dissertation: "Finding a Voice in the American Classical Guitar Vernacular"
- Master of music degree from Yale University School of Music
- Editor-in-chief of Soundboard Magazine: The Journal of the Guitar Foundation of America
- Founder of Ben & I Play for Peace: Concerts and Classes to Benefit American Veterans, honored by the U.S. House of Representatives
- Recordings: Common Ground: New American Music for Solo Guitar and Yong, Kim, & Cathy at Yale: American Music for Flute, Guitar, and Cello
In Their Own Words
"My teaching style is focused on the student. At Berklee, students come inspired and they already have something to say musically. I see my job as helping them develop the tools to say that more effectively. So I'm able to look at a student and say, 'I can help you with this set of tools that I've worked on in my career and in my playing. I can help you develop your tone and your facility so that you can play a melodic line like it's a vocal line and then accompany yourself by playing a bass line and chords behind that. Then, whatever you want to say will come out in a more fluid, musical way.' I think that's really my job."
"As we're working on things, I want to get a sense of what they want to sound like. I think that identifying their ideal sound helps define the learning process. It's hard work to develop the tools that you need for your technique and for your interpretation. It's one thing to say, 'I'm going to work on being more expressive.' Practically, that's lot of hard work—it's tedious and it's a lot of repetition. As a young person who's inspired, it's difficult to focus in that way. But ultimately, to find their musical voice they have to be able to say, 'I want a loud sound. I want it to have this kind of attack and this kind of color.' And they have to practice specifically for that, and get it right, and then repeat it a thousand times so that the next time they hear it in their head they can play it on demand. That's hard to do in a practice room."
"At other music schools, you have one stylistic track for guitar and there’s some room within the one track. At Berklee, you're seeing representations of all the different ways in the world to play this instrument. It allows you to really think about what inspires you from the very beginning. I think a lot of students don’t have the chance to think: 'This is what I'd love to learn' about a wide range of styles and approaches. There’s so much music out there. And at Berklee you have a chance to be exposed to all of that in the beginning."