One-armed guitarist wows his fans

A BOTTLE cap, some elastic and a strategically placed plectrum means that one-handed Barkingside guitarist Ben Teacher is able to play out his ambitions. Ben was even on the verge of a prestigious place in the final of the global Guitar Idol competition –

A BOTTLE cap, some elastic and a strategically placed plectrum means that one-handed Barkingside guitarist Ben Teacher is able to play out his ambitions.

Ben was even on the verge of a prestigious place in the final of the global Guitar Idol competition - to be held at the ExCel on June 13 - narrowly missing out this week.

The 25-year-old former pupil of King Solomon High School, Forest Road, Barkingside, was born without a right forearm, with small fingers on the end of his elbow joint.

His love of the guitar-dominated soundtrack to 1996 movie The Transformers, meant he yearned to play, but he cut his tiny and fragile fingers to shreds when on his first attempt at the age of 16.


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Ben, of Barkingside, explains: "I quickly decided I couldn't go through that again and then thought about how I could get around it. That's when I came up with the bottle cap idea.

"Initially, without the elastic, I couldn't get the grip I wanted, but with the help of my mother, bless her, I used a penknife to make cuts in the bottle cap, and then inserted elastic so that I could fasten it more securely to my arm."

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Ben's unique style of playing the guitar can be seen on www.myspace.com/benjaminteacher or on www.youtube.com.

That myspace page has flourished, with Ben, a registered London Underground busker, now more than 36,000 friends to the good.

His performance on Guitar Idol, organised by www.alloutguitar.com and Marshall Amplifiers, saw him come sixth in a corresponding public vote recently.

And one of his YouTube clips is being used on a new MTV cartoon show about two guys who watch the website all day at their office. It's due to be screened later this year.

But just how does he deal with the attention that his disability brings and does he worry that his busking routine is viewed as some kind of novelty act?

He explains: "When I was younger I got loads of stick and I really hated it, but fortunately I've been able to embrace it all.

"I obviously get a lot of attention when I'm busking, but I don't have another job and I'm able to get by on that, so I'd rather be playing guitar for a living than working in an office doing a job I hated.''

Ben enrolled at Redbridge College to study IT but gave it up to follow his guitar dream.

And because he is such an example to others, he also gives motivational speeches to young adults and students about what it's like to live with a disability and how you can aim high to achieve your ambitions.

Early inspiration came from the likes of Pink Floyd, Metallica and Jimi Hendrix, while Ben would love the chance to work with some of his modern day guitar heroes, like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and, in particular, Japanese star Ayumi Hamasaki, the man behind that Transformers soundtrack.

It would be a dream to work on his own soundtracks and in the meantime he composes all the music for, and fronts, The Ben Teacher Band, with 17-year-old bass player Charlie Noakes, from Dagenham, and veteran former Dusty Springfield, Nazareth and Hawkwind sessionist Robert Dupre, from Romford.

Look out for Ben throughout the week at Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus Tube stations.

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