Composition, arranging, songwriting and production

I’m a very experienced composition teacher. I love to help people find the discipline and freedom necessary for their creative expression to flow more or less on demand. Using my simple, practical model of how music works tonally and rhythmically, students are encouraged to explore ways of using music to tell stories. Conventional approaches to composition teaching tend to be based either on learning dense theory or an abstract, experimental approach that can leave many people in the dark. By learning Phil’s simple model of fluent musicianship, students can develop a clear understanding of tonal and rhythmic “syntax” and structure and this ensures that they communicate their own unique musical messages clearly, in any style of music that they choose to explore as a composer. Having my model firmly in mind, is therefore a powerful way for students to unlock their creativity. To help students develop their confidence and skills when composing, I will teach them to improvise to some degree on the piano keyboard or any instrument that they play.

Whilst the foundation discipline of being able to handle rhythm, tonality and musical structure is top priority in composition lessons, various other aspects of composition will be covered to whatever level of depth is required:

  • Timbre, texture and instrumentation
  • Notation – engraving scores, parts, lead sheets for pop songs etc.
  • Compositional techniques – thematic transformation, symphonic development, variation etc.
  • Study of different styles of music and understanding the techniques involved
  • Wordsetting and melody-writing
  • Music technology and production – sequencing, synthesis, sampling, recording etc.
  • Synchronising music and film

I use Finale for notation and Cubase for production, together with a whole host of other music software. I will help students navigate today’s very complex world of music technology and composition and help them demystify the whole process in order to feel confident and secure in their own musical choices. Whatever path students wish to follow – complex production, classical symphonic writing, solo instrumentals, experimental electronica or just putting down simple pop songs as vocal melodies with guitar chords – I can guide them expertly to develop their skills and free their creativity.