I became a full-time musician after completing my Ph.D in Psychology 1983. It was not an overnight decision. I had played guitar from the age of 8 and piano from the age of 15. I was totally self taught until I decided to take some Jazz piano lessons when I was 23 years old and in my third year of my Ph.D research. After a year of private lessons with Chuck Yates, a veteran Sydney based jazz pianist and teacher, and two years of group workshops plus many hours of practice, I finally scored a gig playing piano in a jazz trio six nights a week, 4 hrs/ night. I still play professionally and I have been fortunate to be able to play with many fantastic instrumentalists and singers.

Teaching is also a passion of mine which I developed during my years at University as a Psychology tutor. I have been teaching music full-time since I left Psychology in 1983.

Influenced heavily by my Jazz training, I developed my own teaching method. In 1987 I published the essential principles of my method in a book called Understanding Chords. The book is out of print but I have made it available as a PDF (see Phil’s Book page).

I teach chord/melody relationships. I give my students some insight into what the composer was hearing before the music was notated on the page. My students learn to play the songs of their choice with an understanding of how music is created. I give the student the freedom to create their own arrangements once they understand the basic building blocks common to all genres of Western music. Composition and improvisation follow on naturally from my teaching method.

Some of my students have gone on to pursue musical careers. One that I am particularly proud of is a brilliant singer/songwriter called Savannah Zwi-Navon.