Ben Wheeler

 

Adjunct Professor of Jazz & Music History

Ben Wheeler has been a freelance bass player and teacher for over a decade. Having played in the orchestra and jazz band in high school, Wheeler went on to study classical bass at Truman State University. After his freshmen year, Wheeler joined the group "Swing Cat Swing," a cover band that performed around the St. Louis area during the retro-swing fad of the late 90s. The group performed the theme for Fox 2 News, along with several promotional clips that aired regularly. Wheeler transferred to Webster University to finish his bachelor's degree and study jazz with bassists Jay Hungerford and Dan Eubanks. His undergraduate experience included a trip to Poland to assist with Webster's Summer Jazz Academy in Krakow.

After graduating from Webster University, Wheeler began playing with some of the top jazz musicians in St. Louis. His regular gigs included backing the legendary saxophonists Willie Akins and Dave Stone, along with performing with piano virtuoso Ptah Williams. He was a member of the Jeff Lash Trio which got several positive reviews in the Riverfront Times for their jazz interpretations of rock standards. Wheeler also got the opportunity to perform in other cities with jazz guitarist Corey Christiansen (featuring drummer Danny Gottlieb) and the rock band "Perry Went Home."

An opportunity for a teaching assistantship at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and the chance to study with the spectacular bass player Tom Kennedy prompted Wheeler to go to graduate school. He had taught private lessons, but classroom teaching was a new and exciting prospect. It ended up helping him discover an enjoyable “day job” for a musician and an outlet for sharing his love of music with others.

Wheeler currently teaches at St. Louis Community College, Webster University, Washington University and Jefferson College. He has recently received the Teacher to Teacher award at STLCC-Wildwood, along with a teaching award from the Wildwood Rotary Club. He continues to work as a freelance bass player, recording and performing concerts with vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, saxophonist Paul DeMarinis and many others. Wheeler is also the proud parent of a two year old daughter, Zooey Simone, who is currently enrolled in toddler music class.