Carter Pendell was born in Oklahoma City and was introduced to the violin at age five: a mother's attempt to keep her active son occupied while he recuperated from a hip problem. While he was still in high school, he joined the violin section of the Oklahoma Symphony.
Carter studied with Michael Avsharian at Oklahoma University and attended Meadowmount School of Music, the famed string school of violinist, Ivan Galamian, where his teachers included Mr. Galamian, Paul Makanowitsky and Sally Thomas. He spent thirteen years with the Oklahoma Symphony and one year with the Kansas City Symphony before being offered a first violin position with The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in 1982.
Carter and his wife, Marian, The Phoenix Symphony's principal oboe, have one child, Elizabeth.