TEACHING & COACHING
Phil believes that you are as musically talented as you are fascinated and excited by music and that his job as a music teacher is to help you learn and practise effectively at your own pace, without pressure, removing any blocks that you may encounter along the way. To do this, Phil will provide you with the following 7 things:
- A carefully designed method or learning model with clear goals for you to follow
- A lucid explanatory teaching style with plenty of practical demonstration
- Beautifully designed learning materials
- Powerful coaching and encouragement to help you practise effectively
- Honest assessment and feedback at every step
- Patient and compassionate guidance based on dialogue and the ability to listen to the student’s needs
- The recognition of the collaborative nature of teaching and learning
Phil teaches at home in his small, very well-equipped recording studio, which has stunning sound, two excellent digital pianos and a very powerful silent Digital Audio Workstation running Cubase, Pianoteq and Finale and a host of other music software. He currently teaches adults only, as his musical fluency course materials have not been designed for children. This may change in the future and he is always willing to discuss the possibility of teaching younger pupils in exceptional cases.
His fees are £50 for an hour’s session.
Phil has worked as a piano teacher for over 25 years. Having successfully taught in a conventional way in the past, he now teaches piano using his own highly effective and innovative approach, where genuine musical fluency is fostered from the outset. Fluent musicians have the ability to play the music they can hear in their imagination, instantly, without working out. Rather like learning a language, students build a kind of musical “vocabulary” of rhythmic and tonal elements. This enables you to express yourself effortlessly and naturally, rather like speaking in your native language. This means that you develop the skills necessary to play by ear, improvise and when you look at a score to hear it instantly in your imagination.
Radical and effective training
Musical fluency training gives students a very significant edge as musicians, whatever style of music they choose to play, classical, jazz or pop etc. Whilst improvisation, fluent sight-reading and the ability to play by ear are obviously extremely useful skills generated by fluent musicianship training, another extremely important quality also emerges: people discover their own personal style or musical voice.
This is because fluent musicians have the ability to let go and play with a direct, authentic and free expressiveness that comes from within. So in Phil’s piano training method, the unique personality of the student must always be present from the outset. This ensures that your piano playing never sounds flat, stiff or mechanical which is a common problem for so many piano students. From the very first lesson, there is an effortless ease and flow to the way that students play using Phil’s method that sounds like a professional musician. As you develop, this natural ease works to generate powerful yet relaxed technique that makes you fully capable of playing fast and loud passages without fatigue as well as fostering control and precision necessary for delicate pianissimo music.
Phil has developed a radical new system of keyboard musicianship training that lays solid foundations for studying any kind of music. It follows a clear scheme of work and he provides all the materials that you will need. Once you have completed Phil’s core training, you may go on to take grade examinations in either classical or jazz piano. With fluent skills in place, students can learn to play pieces and scales after very short preparation times. Learning music quickly is another important useful effect of being musically fluent. Being musically fluent, you can also expect to find aural tests and sight-reading tests very easy indeed. All this ensures the achievement of very high marks.
In conventional piano training methods, the skills that most students acquire to pass examinations, decay rapidly without a substantial amount of consistent practice. This is because of the unconscious way they play; playing by rote is rather shallow and automatic. As a result, learning new music becomes increasingly difficult and their confidence suffers more and more over time. Even passing grade 8 does not guarantee lifelong skills. Fluent piano skills, on the other hand, are fully conscious and clear and do not decay very much at all, even over a very long time. Playing the piano fluently is like riding a bicycle: you never forget how to do it!
Discover a way of practising that sets your playing free
Students who may have completed their more conventional studies, perhaps having graduated from Music College, often seek to open up their musical horizons and discover themselves as artists. Phil offers powerful support and guidance with this process, specialising in freeing up their technique and fostering real musicianship to help them access their true, natural inner musician.
Phil works in a very practical way, helping students make their piano practice truly effective. How you practise – the quality more than the quantity of your practice – is the most important determining factor for progress and motivation. Phil works closely with students in piano lessons to assess the quality of their focus and ensure that there is freedom and ease in their playing at all times, both physically and mentally.
Phil has worked as a singing teacher for the past ten years and before that worked extensively as a vocal coach or repetiteur for many years. The shift to working on actual vocal technique came about as a result of his increasing sense that the voice must be fully released in order for us to sing really well. Having suffered vocal problems himself, he has developed a model of singing technique that supports healthy, relaxed functioning of the vocal mechanism.
A clear model for developing a fully released singing voice
He uses a powerful, innovative model for vocal training that sits comfortably with many other schools and disciplines of vocal study, even ones that disagree with each other. He provides clear materials and a logical scheme of work. Phil recognises the danger of a one-size-fits-all, dogmatic approach and his model has a flexibility that means it easily adapts so that different voices use it in very different ways.
Each person has a unique voice and Phil understands how vital it is for voice students to release their authentic tone and not merely put on a voice that sounds impressive. With this clear model for vocal release, combined with his system of learning vocal musicianship, students can feel very confident and clear as they work to discover their true voice and sing with effortless freedom.
Expand your range and expressive power
Phil works with students to help them increase their vocal range both in terms of pitch and dynamics. His focus is always to ensure that the voice is produced freely and never using excessive tension or breath pressure against a closed throat, even when vocalising high or loud (vocal belt) notes. This way, using a fully supported voice, singers can perform technically demanding music for long periods without suffering from vocal fatigue.
To achieve this state of relaxed tone, singers are encouraged to investigate their internal blockages to free vocalisation and the uninhibited expressive use of their voices. This process can be very exciting, illuminating and almost therapeutic in nature.
Become a vocal musician with real skills
The musicianship training that Phil teaches means that singing students develop fluent musical skills such as sight-singing, vocal improvisation and the ability to harmonise effortlessly. Such skills are of course very useful in themselves but they also contribute directly to the expressive freedom and authenticity of the singer. A skilled vocal musician has a great sense of rhythm and tonality that allows for the development of true artistic expression rather than the kind of karaoke vocal mimicry that we hear too often these days.
Once students have mastered the foundations of vocal fluency, Phil is happy to prepare them for examinations if that is something they would like to do. Having vocal freedom and musical fluency, they can expect to achieve very high marks.
Discover your true, unique and healthy voice
Phil’s approach works very well with experienced singers and beginners alike, even people who are afraid to sing and would like to challenge this. Likewise, his model of how to develop free, effortless vocalisation and solid musicianship is very suited to professional or experienced singers who are looking to take their artistic development to the next level. It can also be an extremely helpful way for singers to develop greater confidence and overcome performance nerves as well as ironing out technical wrinkles. And because of his focus on the technical freedom and health of the singing voice, Phil can also help singers with the process of rehabilitating a voice that is suffering with vocal problems by gently exploring the effortless resonance and freedom of their natural true voice.
Composition & Song Writing
Phil is a highly experienced composition teacher. He helps people find the discipline and freedom necessary for their creative expression to flow more or less on demand. Using his simple, practical model of how music works tonally and rhythmical, 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, 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 Phil’s model clearly in mind, is therefore a powerful way for students to unlock their creativity. To help students develop their confidence and skills when composing, Phil will teach them to improvise to some degree on the piano keyboard or any instrument that they play.
Whilst the foundational discipline of being able to handle rhythm, tonality and musical structure is top priority in composition lessons with Phil, 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
Phil uses Finale for notation and Cubase for production together with a whole host of other music software. He will help students navigate today’s very complex world of music technology and composition. He will help them to 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 – Phil can guide them expertly to develop their skills and free their creativity.
Theory and Practical Musicianship
For a fluent musician, music theory can be a genuinely fun activity. So Phil teaches students to have a firm grasp and practical knowledge of his model of rhythm and tonality as a practical foundation before going on to explore theoretical ideas. He is equally happy to teach music theory across all styles and genres of music.
He can help students understand classical harmony and counterpoint, grasp jazz chords and voicings, realise Baroque figured bass, flesh out chord symbols on a song lead sheet, understand syncopation or crossed rhythms, analyse the structure of large symphonic works, grasp the basic structure of a modern pop song or a jazz standard or classical sonata form… Music theory is a rich and complex subject and Phil can help students with their studies in all disciplines and levels, whether beginner, Grade 5 theory or graduate level.