Dr. Benjamin A. Therrell

Cello Teacher

Dr. Benjamin Therrell


Madison, WI
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Dr. Ben Therrell, DMA has many years of both private and group teaching experience with ages 3 to “I’ve stopped counting,” and from beginning students to college-level cellists. Currently, Ben is certified to teach Books I and II and has done his teacher training with Tanya Carey.

Excellent Students
Ben is very proud of the successes of his students. Many students in his studio successfully win seats in local youth orchestras and regional honors orchestras. Some have gone on to competitive music programs, while others have grown into well-rounded young adults with a love and appreciation for music. All have gained a deeper understanding of their personal values through music.

Ben has studied cello performance under Uri Vardi, Brooks Whitehouse, and David Schepps; music education with Teryl Dobbs; and string pedagogy under Susan Kempter and Lisa Collins. For his string pedagogy training, Ben spent a total of 10 semesters as either an intern or employee teaching for the University of New Mexico (UNM) Suzuki Lab School, working closely with program coordinators. During his Doctoral Fellowship, he was the resident cello for the Rabin String Quartet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.

Teaching Experience
Ben has previously served as cello faculty for the Community Music School (CMS) in association with University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), UNM String Pedagogy Lab School, The New Mexico School of Music, and as a freelance private instructor; Ben has also given workshops and sectionals for middle and high school age cellists at schools and elite youth orchestras in New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Performing Experience
Ben has held a chair in the Fayetteville Symphony and performed with many groups in North Carolina, New Mexico, and Colorado; including the Winston-Salem Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, Boulder Symphony, and others. He previously occupied a residency with the Giannini String Quartet at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Noteworthy Teachers
Ben’s teaching is influenced by personal feedback from noteworthy cellists Lynn Harrell, David Finckel, Alan Harris, Timothy Eddy, Parry Karp, Rhonda Rider, Wendy Warner, Antonio Lysy, Scott Kluksdahl, Alex Ezerman, Andrew Mark, Kim Cook, Jeff Lestrapes, and Mark Votapek.

From Ben’s Studio Handbook:

My Philosophy
Our studio motto, “becoming lifelong artists,” communicates a few key ideas. I want learners to affect an artistic life. I seek sensitivity to students’ motivations, background, and experiences. My intent is for us to find the most fulfilling music-making together. I challenge students to generate critical reflections about their music. I also make a point to reduce discussion and immerse students in the language of music. I strive to inspire, encourage, and motivate my students’ high personal standards. I want them to risk safely and fail observantly for their learning mindset to flourish.

Through music, students learn more about their personal values and self-actualization. The cello is a wonderful music-making tool that can play many different genres: pop, rock, jazz, folk, along with classical as well. My teaching encourages creative artistic communication through focused, balanced, and wellness-centered approaches.

As a Suzuki-Certified instructor with a BM in String Pedagogy and currently completing a Doctoral Minor in Music Education, I have had extensive teaching experience with students from ages 3 to 63. My approach includes Suzuki’s “Mother-Tongue Method,” where students learn how to pronounce “words,” and string them together into “sentences,” before they learn to read. This ultimately gives cellists a very relaxed and natural control over their playing before they have the added challenge of reading notes. I have taught private and group classes for over a decade and worked with absolute beginners through pre-professional students.

The “Ideal” Student
I have been asked many times over the years how I would define my “ideal” student. I have learned that this is less a question about my expectations for students and more about exploration and play.

I am committed to empathy and support for all my students and their families. For me, this is a constant learning process requiring personal reflection and scrutiny. I strive to be curious and compassionate about the lived experiences of the people I interact with.

I welcome conversations that allow us to treat others more respectfully and equitably. Ultimately my goal is to encourage students to express themselves in a safe and personally fulfilling way. This involves careful recognition of and sensitivity to my students’ needs.

Therrell Cello Studio Motto
“Becoming Lifelong Artists”