Ben Rubin
Jersey City, NJ
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Ben Rubin

Ben R.

Jersey City, NJ
Profile-background-check Background Check
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Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Profile-location-home Student's Home
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Profile-location-home Student's Home
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I have taught guitar since 2012 and have been playing since 2000. I am happy to take students at the beginner and intermediate levels. I believe strongly in integrating music theory and ultimately moving students toward musical self-suffiency, rather than focusing exclusively on learning particular pieces.

About Ben R.

Hi, I'm a lifelong musician and educator with 20+ years of experience writing, recording, performing and improvising across multiple instruments and genres. After years of teaching music on the side, I left my day job as a college history professor in 2018 to devote myself full time to building a community-based music education business and couldn't be happier. I love teaching both kids and adults, and am always especially excited to work with beginners. Here are a few things I have come to believe in.

1) Individualized Approach

Music is a path with many branches. Often they will intersect in ways the student never imagined. My own musical journey has taken me from classical music to punk rock, and from Appalachian folk to jazz. There are many places from which to start, and many threads to follow. I believe strongly in following a student’s own interests wherever they lead. Music is about exploration, and I don’t believe that any genre of music prepares one for that journey any better or worse than any other. So, the student might as well play the music they love. If it’s a style I’m not familiar with, I’ll learn it with you, and then we both become richer.

2) Music is a Holistic Skill

You are not learning an instrument. You are learning music, and the instrument you play is your tool the same way that pen and paper are tools for writing. Technical skills and instrument mastery are important because they give you the ability to express yourself musically. But they are a means to an end, not the end itself. The end is making music. Every student of an instrument should understand how her/his instrument fits into that process, what its job is in an ensemble, how other instruments function, how to read standard notation in both treble and bass clef, how to read chord notation/lead sheets, and be familiar enough with the keyboard to visualize musical relationships on it.

3) Skills Not Songs

I’m not opposed to teaching songs that a student wants to learn. In fact, I think that is often the best way to approach learning an instrument. I want you to be able to use music to do what you want to do with it. Unfortunately, many private music instructors take the approach that they are there to teach you how to play specific songs for their own sake. I don’t think that is a good use of your time or money. My goal is to get students the skills to teach themselves the pieces they want to learn. Often the route to that goal runs through learning songs together in lessons. But every musical selection should teach a skill that makes the student more self-sufficient, and we will approach every song we learn with an eye to understanding it and drawing some kind of lesson or skill from it.

4) Music Theory: You Need It

Theory is the foundation of all musical expression, and part of taking lessons with me will be understanding those foundations and how they function in the construction of musical art. What theoretical concepts we learn, and how much emphasis we put on them will be dependent on the student’s interests and goals. Classical, rock, folk, and jazz traditions all use musical concepts differently, and theoretical ideas specific to one may not be relevant to another. Students interested in writing, composing, or improvisation will need more theoretical background than students who simply want to be excellent technicians of their instrument. However, even in the latter case, understanding the keys, scales, and chords from which music is built is essential to fully realizing one’s musical potential.

If you think my approach would be a good fit for you, send me a message and let's get started.

Reviews

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Peng D.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

I'm a new learner in guitar, I barely read notes. Ben is very patient on me. The learning process is dense but smooth. Ben let me feel I can achieve my goal in near future. Thanks!

Posted Jun 13, 2021
Sandra S.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Ben has character attributes one would like to find in a teacher, knowledge, patience and presence! Looking forward to our next lesson. Thanks Ben!

Posted Jan 10, 2021
Aena
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Fantastic, patient and kind ukelele instructor. I recommend Ben without reservation.
Thanks Ben!

Posted Aug 30, 2020
Kamal
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Ben has been instructing my 2 kids (now aged 11 and 9) in-home for at least 5 years. We started off with piano for the first few years but then switched to a combination of piano and acoustic guitar (half a session dedicated to each instrument).

He is patient, kind, and highly knowledgeable. I clearly see the upward trajectory in my kids' musical capabilities. One of my kids can be difficult to deal with, especially when he is tired, but Ben would mold his approach to the lesson on the spot to keep my kid engaged (e.g., instead of continuing the lesson on the actual piano, he'd switch to a fun music-oriented game).

Posted Sep 8, 2019
Lauren
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I hadn't played a musical instrument since elementary school when I started Ukulele lessons with Ben. Ben started from the beginning, answered all my questions along the way, and built upon that information in each lesson. It wasn't in a didactic way, but in a way that was really customized to fit my Ukulele lesson goals. Ben's teaching style is very flexible also. I had some Ukulele lesson books I had been gifted and we worked from those. I didn't feel that I had to buy a bunch of additional equipment, books, etc.

I recommend Ben as a music teacher. He is understanding, encouraging, and inspirational. I am looking forward to continuing lessons with Ben and JC Instrumental.

Posted Sep 4, 2019
Pam
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Ben has been working with our daughter since January 2019, when she turned 6 1/2. He arrives at our home on time each week and he works with her at an age appropriate level. We appreciate that he recognizes the effort she puts into the weeks when she practices often and he gently makes her aware when she hasn't practiced enough. He always speaks with her in a kind way and with us in a collaborative manner. We all want her to enjoy her piano experience, and we are thankful to have found Ben just a few blocks away from our home.

Posted Aug 28, 2019
Adam
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I've been taking piano lessons with Ben for about 6 weeks now. It's really convenient for me, since I can meet at his place or he can come to mine. I'm an adult beginner, with really zero piano experience prior to starting lessons. Years ago I played trumpet for about 5 years, so I did have some early experience reading music.

I told Ben to treat me like a true beginner. He's been very patient, but he challenges me. I think my success will ultimately be up to me -- how much am I willing to practice, and to study? So far the experience working with Ben has been great. It's fun and challenging, and I'm finding myself improving every week. I've even started to figure out some chords and songs on my own!

Posted Aug 21, 2019
Becky
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Ben was a great first music teacher for my daughter. He taught her the basics of beat and rhythm, proper piano technique and practice methods, all within her young abilities (she started with him around 4 1/2 years old). He was also extremely patient but firm when she got wiggly and tired. He was also always on time and easy to work with.

Posted Aug 13, 2019

Photos & Videos

17 Photos & Videos

Experience

Teaching
Sep 2013 - Present

Experience

-8 years teaching piano, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and music theory, mostly to beginners

Music Theory
Sep 2004 - Present

Experience

4 Semesters College theory training, plus years of experience writing and composing both alone and in musical ensembles

Instrumental
Sep 2000 - Present

Experience

-Guitar: 20 years -Bass guitar 20 years -Piano: 16 years -Ukulele: 4 years

Performance and Recording
Sep 2000 - Present

Experience

-18 years experience writing, recording, and performing with various music groups, including principal songwriting, and principal composition credits -Recorded 4 studio albums with 2 different bands

Education

Ph.D.
Sep 2011 - Present

Drew University

B.A.
Sep 2008 - Dec 2010

Western Carolina University

Bachelors's Degree
Sep 2004 - May 2008

Hanover College

Languages

English

Fluent / Native Proficiency

Spanish

Limited Proficiency

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