I have known Dr John Phillips since I began studying classical piano and theory with him in 2010. John has helped me to become a competent and committed musician, while also making huge progress with my technical skill and stylistic understanding of pieces by studying my works with depth and intensity.
He has helped me go beyond what I thought I was capable of, and has helped me successfully complete AMEB grades 6 to 8 and Certificate in Performance with top marks.
John has pushed me to tackle challenging repertoire while being enthusiastic and confident in my skills as a pianist. An example of this was successfully completing my AMusA in November 2016 with a demanding and extensive program, while also studying at school in year 11. We have also pursed further studies in advanced harmony, aural training and strict counterpoint.
John is a very enthusiastic teacher and goes out of his way to help students, whether it is giving some extra lesson time or an extra performance before an exam.
The layout of the two pianos where John teaches really helped optimize my learning as we could play and communicate at the same time.
John is very thorough with his students’ musical education in piano and theory and is a knowledgeable and experienced teacher that I can highly and unconditionally recommend.
An Pham, AMusA (Piano)
- An Pham, AMusA (Piano) An_xuanpham@yahoo.com.au
Mrs Deidre McFaul
12 Peppercorn Way
Jerrabomberra NSW 2619
14th February 2017
To whom it may concern
I am writing a personal character reference and a professional reference for Dr John A. Phillips.
I have been privileged to know John as a fellow music educator and as a parent of one of his singing students since 2011. John was one of my mentors and encouraged me to successfully complete my honours thesis in 2012.
John is one of the best music educators I have encountered at any grade level in South Australian, ACT or NSW private music teaching. He is a passionate teacher who encourages every child to succeed at their own level. In a climate of ‘dumbing’ down education to the lowest denominator he actively encourages every student to work at their highest level and thus build self-belief and esteem in his students. John is also a very active listener and this skill enables him to connect with the students and present a relevant music curriculum that engages students of all abilities. John and I have had many long talks about the importance of building up the confidence of students through a challenging curriculum and setting the level of work at a level that requires hard work for everyone- but most importantly making it achievable.
His method of teaching is strongly set in consultation with parents and students, and is structured to encourage students to think as an individual, perform as an individual and problem solve independently. These are all skills that should be fostered in young people to take into their adult lives. John’s approach is not aimed at allowing students to fail, rather it allows them to develop their strengths and ability to think as individuals and become valuable musicians.
John’s knowledge of musicology and theory is of the highest level and he always underpins his teaching in the theoretical and historical context that is relevant to the piece. As an accompanist, he is generous with his time, his knowledge and comforting presence on stage. I have rarely seen an accompanist of his standard, and his ability to match the student and transpose on the spot is awe inspiring. John is also an incredible vocal teacher who completed his studies overseas. His knowledge of German, Italian, French and English diction is of a very high level. He also stresses the importance of connecting the voice with the physical body, thus teaching vocal students at a high level with great consideration to not damaging their voice.
As a parent of a daughter who had vocal lessons with John, I could not be happier. Jade received an offer to study classical voice at ANU after gaining an outstanding result with her 8th grade AMEB and year 12 music. She also received a scholarship due to the hard work she and John put into her year 12 studies. She received an invitation to perform at the AMEB presentations that year.
Watching John work with her was a delight. He consulted with her when necessary, pushed her gently but firmly and was always there for her performances as her accompanist. John also gave her a sound foundation in German diction which she has often had to rely on in her Art Song performances. Her diction is now so good that the German Ambassador for Australia regularly requests her to sing at the embassy.
Most importantly John fostered in her a love of classical vocal music, a strong work ethic and self-confidence. I have no hesitation in recommending John for any position within the music education industry. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.
Deidre (Dee) Elizabeth McFaul B.Ed. (hons)
St Gregory’s School