I’m Phil Best, award-winning RNCM graduate performing & recording artist – pianist, composer, producer & vocalist – and innovative piano teacher & singing teacher.

Hear my music – pieces, songs and improvisations – on YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify and other streaming sites.

Study piano, singing or composition with me online or in my studio at home in London SW6, Fulham / Hammersmith.

artist

I use fluent musicianship skills as a pianist and vocalist to express inner feelings with spontaneity, authenticity and candour. Whether complex or simple, deep or trifling, challenging or transparent, the meanings are always relatable and honest.

As a composer of contemporary piano music, I explore the rhythmic and tonal language of jazz and pop as well as classical music and allow my subjective tastes and experience to unselfconsciously create originality and a unique, identifiable “voice” without following or contriving any particular genre. I believe my job as an artist is to be a musical storyteller, to communicate with clarity and directness, using a rich, personal musical vocabulary, evoking vivid scenes and atmospheres in a natural, intelligible and coherent way – even in completely unplanned improvisations.

I love how musical language can evoke the intricacies of our interior moods and convey subtle shifts of feeling with sharp precision. Ultimately, I aim to describe how it feels to be alive in the world today, to offer insight, catharsis and solace.

teacher

I teach fluency in the language of music for piano or keyboard players and singers. My unique approach builds on natural, intuitive musicianship using a simple model of musical language to generate powerful skills. I coach students to focus effortlessly on internalised musical “vocabulary” and “syntax” whilst actively letting go of expressive blockages and self-consciousness.

It’s a highly practical system that is very different from current conventional music learning: I don’t use lots of technique, complex theory, repetitive muscle-memory rehearsing, drilling of finger exercises or scales, mindless karaoke or show-and-play instruction… these approaches have no place in my musical fluency training.

A fluent musician has incredibly useful musical skills such as improvisation, playing by ear and true sight-reading or sight-singing (not the usual decoding). Fluency removes the stiffness that conventional music training causes: it generates the freedom to express musically with natural ease and flow.

Fluency in the language of music as a means of authentic self-expression is the heart of my work both as an artist and a teacher

background

I studied piano with 2 wonderful teachers, Ella Pounder from the age of 5 until I was 9 and Denis Matthews from the age of 14 until I was 18. They helped me explore music in playful and creative ways, including improvisation. In the time between studying with them, I had a teacher who taught in more conventional ways, with lots of theory, strict technique, playing with the metronome etc. This didn’t suit me at all, especially as he was also quite a bully. I instantly felt my natural musicality getting blocked.

But this negative experience had a very positive effect on my musical development, becuase it caused me to to rebel, albeit secretly. In order to hold onto my natural skills, I began to reflect deeply, exploring the inner workings of my mind as it processed music intuitively. I quickly became very fluent in the language of music, which ironically help me cope with my teacher’s highly dogmatic instruction and please him by passing all the ABRSM examinations with distinctions by age 11 and I won many junior competitions. I also played concertos and recitals from the age of 12 onwards. Studying with Denis Matthews from the age of 14 was a wonderful experience. His encouragement and profound musical insight were invaluable.

Aged 18, I went to the RNCM to study piano and also had informal singing lessons. Again, I had a difficult relationship with my piano teacher, Ryszard Bakst: he found my natural, unpretentious manners not to his taste but he encouraged me to participate and compete and I won awards for my piano playing, performed regularly as a concerto soloist and in recitals and graduated with first class honours.

I left the RNCM quite burnt out but gradually settled into my own unconventional ways of working as a professional musician and teacher. I now offer students fluent musicianship training in piano and singing, which generates a range of incredibly useful skills in any chosen genre of music. Ultimately, musical fluency allows us to express our deep inner feelings directly and spontaneously, something which is beyond the scope of words, and in my view, is the true purpose of music. I have continued working as a pianist, playing classical repertoire, as well as my own pieces and improvisations in my own unconventional, natural way. Jazz and pop styles (piano and singing) also interest me very much as an artist and I am currently working on some new artistic projects.

“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife.”
­­‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ­­­― Kahlil Gibran

soul, not ego

Fluent music communicates directly soul to soul, bringing joy, solace and catharsis, even healing. This is the goal of my all musical work, both as an artist and as a teacher. I dislike the competitive climate that we find so often in today’s music industry: rooted in egotism, cold commercialism and status-seeking, it weakens the true purpose of music.

Having experienced early success as a young classical musician, I was injured psychologically by the pressure of workingwithin a system that feeds an insatiable hunger for prestige and rank within the hierarchical competitive realm. The continual process of healing – transcending these painful experiences – is a great opportunity for growth and insight, both as an artist and teacher. My role is to serve the healing properties of music, using its extraordinary power as the language of inner feeling, to tell musical stories that help us make sense of living in this complex and often troubling world.