Bluegrass Faculty

Ben Proctor

Banjo, Bluegrass

Ben Proctor is a musical pilgrim living in Rochester, New York. He works as a performer, teacher of guitar and rock history for Fairport Central School District, instructor and ensemble director at the Kanack School of Music, and private teacher of guitar, voice, banjo, dobro, and mandolin. His current project is acclaimed bluegrass/Americana band The Crooked North. He has many annoying habits, like constantly playing instruments and singing children’s melodies in odd meters. Ben likes to write songs and believes that teaching music is a high art.

Mr. Proctor graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2009, receiving a Master’s degree in Music Education and New York State teacher certification in music. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology at SUNY Geneseo in 2005 with highest honors. As an independent musician, Ben has performed in concert halls such as the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and Kilbourne Hall, international bluegrass and jazz festivals, and legendary rock venues such as CBGSs. As an educator, he has published teaching tools, given seminars, and been a guest teaching artist. He dreams of one day having a really cool nickname and a family band with everyone in corny matching outfits. The family band is underway, although the two youngest children are still not strong enough to support the weight of most bluegrass instruments. But that does not prevent them from trying.

Ben grew up in a Connecticut swamp where he dreamt of becoming a famous jazz musician. He played with jazz, blues, gospel, rock, and klezmer groups for a few years in Connecticut (including the Afro-Semitic Experience) before moving to New York City, where he postponed finishing college for the third time. With a lot of time on his hands and needing to support his annoying habits, he built websites, acted in off-Broadway theater, and performed with country, blues, and rock and roll bands. After years of musical soul-searching, he found his passion singing and playing American traditional music. He brought this passion to Western New York to finish college and begin his career as a musician, music teacher, and advocate for participation in social music traditions. His long-term goal is for everyone to learn a musical instrument that they can play in kitchens and on porches with their friends and families.

Learn more about Ben Proctor – Banjo, Dobro, Mandolin (Guitar, Voice) at:

Austin Wahl

Guitar, Suzuki Guitar, Mandolin

Austin Wahl, a Minneapolis native, began his guitar studies in 1998 with Alan Johnston, a former member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, at the MacPhail Center for Music. Annually from 2004 to 2011, Wahl attended the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI where he worked with Alan Johnston and Joseph Pecoraro. In 2009, he also studied with David Madsen at the MacPhail Suzuki Institute in Minneapolis. Between 2011 and 2015, Wahl earned his B. M. and Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, studying with Dr. Nicholas Goluses. He will begin his M. M. studies in August of 2015, also at the Eastman School with Dr. Goluses. Wahl received his Suzuki guitar teaching certificate in August of 2012 from Mary Lou Roberts in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Wahl has won top prizes in various competitions. These include first in the Schubert Club (2010) and Thursday Musical (2011) scholarship competitions, second in the 2009 Schubert Club competition, being named a Showcase Artist in the inaugural Minnesota Varsity competition (2011), third in the Women of the Guitar Competition (2014), third in the Great Lakes Guitar Society Competition in 2013 and 2014, and first in 2015. In addition. Wahl also won the prestigious biennial Eastman Guitar Concerto Competition, and performed Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with the Eastman Philharmonia in April of 2014.
Wahl has performed in masterclasses for David Russell, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Benjamin Verdery, William and Adam Kossler, Judicael Perroy, Jeremy Jouve, Raphaella Smits, David Madsen, Sharon Isbin, Eliot Fisk, Roland Dyens, the Eden-Stell Guitar Duo, Anton Baranov, and Krzysztof Meisinger.
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