Phil graduated from the University of Adelaide and The College of Arts and
Education in 1980. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree (specializing in
Education) and a Graduate Diploma in Education. He studied piano with Alison
Holder at The Elder Conservatorium of Music for three years. He admired Alison’s
flair and skill as an accompanist when he heard her play for concerts at “the
Con” and decided after hearing his pedagogue playing for lieder soloists and
instrumentalists that he would specialize as an accompanist.
Phil’s background is quite a musical one. His father Keith has been a church
organist in Blackwood, South Australia for as long as Phil remembers and is well
known in Adelaide by Theatre Organists and his work as presenter of music in
that genre on radio 5EBI.
Growing up with annual Sunday School anniversaries and always singing in the
choir of these, Phil loved the choral sound – and watching the piano
accompanists playing. His sister played the recorder and violin; his brother
played the piano by ear. Laurel his mother sang in the church choir. At the age
of nine, Phil began his formal training in music, learning the piano under the
guidance of well known teacher, Joy Gracie in Blackwood.
After graduating as a teacher, Phil and his wife Sally, also a music teacher,
moved to Whyalla in 1981 – Sally a music teacher also, at Stuart High and Phil
at Whyalla High. The music program at Whyalla High was predominately classically
based however under Phil's guidance and inspiration, huge changes were
implemented which included the formation of the first ever concert band at the
school. He remembers when he ordered the first drum kit for the school!
“…previously, this sort of instrument had never really been thought of as useful
in music education at the school. Soon the music room also had amplifiers, lead
guitars and keyboards as well! The students became more enthused with their
music studies and participated more actively in the teaching/learning process”
After eight years Phil moved back to Adelaide in 1989 being transferred to
Norwood High School where he taught for four years. The same year Sally and
Phil’s first child Stephanie was born. Norwood High’s music department which
included not only teaching duties but also the mentor to contract teachers. Two
years later their son Andrew was born.
In January 1996 tragedy struck when Sally and Andrew died in a car accident
while Sally was driving back from Melbourne. Since then Phil has juggled casual
work with parenting Stephanie, an experience he has found has given him the
ability to be flexible in his approach to his parenting role whilst giving him
an enhanced ability to effectively resolve issues. It has also given him renewed
respect of the preciousness of life.
“The last seven years have been a continual growth experience for me. It started
as a living nightmare, and now, striving to live in the present moment and with
the help of my friends, I see and appreciate the beauty and value in people
around me more and more. While life may still present itself with challenges,
there is now a pervading sense of calm and bringing up my daughter is a
The pinnacle of Phil’s career so far occurred when he was an accompanist with
The Australian Youth Choir for two years from 1998 to 2000. He remembers with
pride playing the grand piano on The Adelaide Town Hall stage for the choir
twice a year.
“I used to greatly admire the visiting world famous pianists who played on that
stage when I was a teenager attending concerts. It was a great feeling to now be
playing on the same stage and helping children with their choral performances.”