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Phillip G.

Instruction in all things Music - Instruction in Reading and Writing

Emeryville, CA (94608)

Travel radius
20 miles
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I have been performing and recording internationally with numerous musicians, bands and composers for over 30 years and have received critical acclaim on over 50 recordings that have been released on CD and vinyl. I strive to work with the students' interest instead of forcing them to adapt to my personal approach, but I am happy to help guide students when they are unsure of a direction. I truly enjoy teaching students of all ages and abilities and have a positive and encouraging attitude while keeping students apprised of professional expectations in the music industry.

In addition to woodwind performance on saxophone and clarinet, I enjoy working with students to enable them to become young composers and improvisers. For woodwind performance I tend to focus on: sound (tone, intonation, timbre); harmony (scales, chords, intervals); rhythm (pulse, groove, tempo, meter, compound meter); sight reading; interpretation/developing your own sound and approach; repertoire; composition; improvisation - while we may not touch on all of these aspects every week, I like to keep these skills on the table so the student can integrate them into their performance skills.

Finally, while I am a professional musician and see that as the central focus of my work, I do not see teaching as a day job, or a necessary evil. Instead, I feel honored to help shape the future of music by working with young people and inspiring them to discover their own personal approach while working within a variety of musical traditions.

In addition to my work as a musician, I have a master's degree from the University of Southern California in literature, was trained as a reading specialist at the Institute of Reading Development, and worked/taught in this field for nearly 20 years. I also taught at Stanford University in the Center for Teaching and Learning for 5 years, focusing on curriculum that relates to the reading process. I enjoy helping students in any of these subject areas and have an easy going, friendly and supportive manner.

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Phillip’s subjects

Elementary Education:
Grammar, Phonics, Reading, Vocabulary
Special Needs:
Corporate Training:


I have been playing clarinet since 1986, when I entered the music education program at the University of Southern California's School of Music. I already had experience playing clarinet in jazz bands at that point, but to satisfy my woodwind requirements, I also had to take woodwind methods courses.

Since graduation in 1988, I have been playing clarinet in numerous ensembles, have composed music for wind trios with clarinet, works for solo clarinet, and other jazz ensemble-related compositions. I have recorded on several albums (CDs) that have received critical acclaim where I performed on clarinet.

Composition (Music)

I have been composing since the late 1970's, when I attended College of the Redwoods in Eureka, CA. I played in numerous bands in the early 1980's and composed for jazz and rock bands (along with taking courses in songwriting and composition at the Blue Bear College of Music in San Francisco. When I entered the music education program at the University of Southern California's School of Music, I was required to take coursework in counterpoint, theory, orchestration and arranging.

Since graduation in 1988, I have composed nearly 400 works for nearly every conceivable ensemble: string quartet - jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles, orchestral works (with and without choir), electro-acoustic ensembles, new music groups, countless works for solo instruments (saxophone, piano, clarinet, cello, flute, etc.). I have served as Composer in Residence with Rough and Tumble (theater company) since 1995.

I have received numerous commissions and awards for my work and was recently awarded a composer residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in the summer of 2013. My works have been recorded on numerous record labels and have received international critical acclaim.


I received a Master's Degree at the University of Southern California in Literature (English). My focus was on the work of James Joyce, but I read numerous other writers and have been an avid reading throughout my life. To truly understand and appreciate Joyce, one must master a myriad of aspects of structure, language and linguistics.

In addition to reading all of his works numerous times, attending various classes that focused on aspects of his work, I have read many critical views on his writing (as well as the writings of Dostoevsky, Proust, Genet, the existentialists, and countless others).

After graduation, I was trained at the Institute of Reading Development, where I became a head teacher, teacher trainer, and head of the writing department; which means I was responsible for developing curriculum and teaching the majority of classes.

Since then I have taught for over 15 years in various classes that focus on literature and the writing process. I enjoy working with students to develop their skills in reading (phonics, whole language, comprehension) and all aspects of writing.

General Music

I have been studying music since childhood, and am proficient in every aspect of music performance, history and theory. I earned an AA degree at College of the Redwoods in the late 1970's and returned to school to complete my BA in music education at the University of Southern California in the late 1980's. These experiences in formal music education well prepared me for a life-long career as a musician (I have been playing professionally for over 35 years). I have performed and recorded internationally with many of the leading figures in jazz, new music, and other popular forms. I have advanced skills in woodwind performance, theory/harmony, composition, music history, piano, guitar, voice, and I have been running an independent record label since 1995, which gives me an insightful view of the music industry.


In addition to coursework in English at College of the Redwoods, Glendale College, and the coursework I completed for my MA in Literature from the University of Southern California, I was head teacher (and teacher trainer) in the writing department at the Institute of Reading Development - responsible for teaching coursework and developing curriculum.

I also taught at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University for four years, teaching coursework in language development and the reading process, all of which relates to grammar.

My MA in Literature at USC focused on the writings of James Joyce, and woe to anyone that would attempt such a thing without a thorough knowledge of grammar, linguistics and narrative structure.


I began playing guitar in 3rd grade, with one of those Mel Bay guitar books ... my parents didn't pay for lessons at the time, I think they wanted to see if I would sink or swim! I kept playing the instrument as I progressed into middle school, and finally began to take private lessons. I played in numerous bands and jam sessions until I started my college career in 1979. At that time, I started my studies on saxophone, but maintained my studies on guitar. I took jazz improvisation, classical guitar, sight-reading, and theory - all as applied to the instrument. I played in lots of bands, performing a variety of styles into the mid-1980's.

I have taught numerous guitar students over the past 20 years, focusing on various techniques that are crucial to mastering the instrument: sight reading (even my 6th grade students can read and know the names of all the notes in the first two positions on the instrument), chord theory and harmony, songwriting, improvising, etc. I have lots of method books and try to focus on the student's desires and interests, rather than force any particular method on them.


I have an MA in 20th Century Literature from the University of Southern California. My thesis focused on the trinity aspect of the novels of James Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: the son - Ulysses: the father - Finnegans Wake: Holy Ghost). I read countless other writers during my student career at USC, and have organized theatrical readings of Shakespeare, Genet, Dylan Thomas, and Eugene O'Neill.

I was active in a Shakespeare reading group for two years, reading all the plays by the bard on a monthly basis.

I have taught coursework in African/African American Literature, Russian Literature, and English Literature at various high schools and through the Institute of Reading Development, where I served as head teacher, teacher trainer, and head of the writing department.

Finally, I have been an avid reader since childhood (I am 55 years old) and devour books when I am not teaching or playing music.

Music History

I have studied music history since my teen years and, more formally at College of the Redwoods (1977- 1979), the University of Southern California (1986 - 1988), where I studied early music (music from the Renaissance until the Baroque Period), the Baroque and Classical Period (1685 - 1790), the Romantic Period (1790 - 1880) and Music of the 20th Century. I also attended seminars and master classes with Leonard Stein on the operas of Berg and Schoenberg (the Second Viennese School). In addition, as a composer and musician, I am constantly reading old and new works on composers and trends in all of the aforementioned areas of music history.

In addition, I am considered an acclaimed performer in the new music, and have performed works by many living composers, sometimes working with them directly (Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Roscoe Mitchell, and more living jazz composers than there is room enough to print here).

Music Theory

I have passed (with flying colors) several semesters of music theory from College of the Redwoods, the Blue Bear College of Music and the School of Music at the University of Southern California.

In addition, I have taught theory and composition at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, where I have been teaching since 2007, in addition to some theory and harmony coursework that I taught during my teaching residency at Oakland School for the Arts for five years.

In application of theory, I have been a composer since the late 1970's, and have been commissioned by numerous ensembles and received grants for composing projects from Meet the Composer and Oakland City Cultural Arts Grants. I have served Rough and Tumble (Theater company) as their composer in residence since 1995. In summer 2013, I was awarded a composer residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts.


In addition to acquiring a Master's Degree in Literature from the University of Southern California in Literature, I was trained at the Institute of Reading Development (IRD) as a reading specialist in 1990. I taught for IRD for four years, became a teacher trainer, and was responsible for teaching all aspects of the reading process: (phonics, whole language learning, comprehension and structural analysis, speed reading, etc.). We were trained to work with students of all ages, from K - college level reading skills - and phonics was a core subject area for younger students.


I have been studying piano as a part of my music education since I attended College of the Redwoods for two years (where I received my AA degree). In addition, I continued my piano studies at the University of Southern California, where I earned my BA in Music Education. In addition to those 5 years of study, I have studied piano technique (fingering, use of hands, how to play without suffering fatigue via bad posture, poor hand control, etc.) I have studied jazz harmony (as used in piano) with Debbie P. and Angelica S. I have been playing piano since high school in the mid-1970's, and have recorded piano performances on two of my critically acclaimed CDs (in duo with drummer Scott A.).

I have taught many students over the years, from young children who are beginning to learn to play the instrument and starting out on sight reading skills - to more advanced players who want to expand their repertoire, learn voice leading, fingering techniques, and explore various styles related to pop, jazz and classical music.


In addition to having a master's degree in literature, I was trained at the Institute for Reading Development in 1989, and worked for them as an instructor and teacher trainer for four years.


I have been playing saxophone since 1977, and have performed and recorded internationally with countless ensembles. I studied with Jerry M. at College of the Redwoods from 1977 - 1979, with Doug M. at the University of Southern California from 1986 - 1988, and have made over 40 critically acclaimed recordings on CDs that have received international distribution and airplay.

My approach has always been to work within a tradition and develop my own voice within that tradition - while respecting it and seeking to push open the boundaries of the tradition. By that end, I have worked in numerous styles and genres and currently play saxophone in about 30 groups - none of them sound the same or use the same approach.

My approach as a teacher is a) for beginners, to learn the basics (develop tone, master scales, chords, intervals and other aspects of harmony, develop sight reading techniques, and b) for intermediate students, to master basic techniques and become comfortable in the genres in which they work, and c) for professional and advanced students to help guide the student to find their own interests, develop their voice as a saxophonist, and explore the emerging language of extended techniques. In addition, I encourage all levels of saxophone students to compose. There is no better way to master forms and discover your own voice within that form than through composition.

Sight Singing

I began my ear-training/sight singing studies at College of the Redwoods from 1977 - 1979, and continued them during my studies at the University of Southern California (USC). When I started out at USC, I had to take a graduate level "ear training review" class, as a way of showing that I was proficient enough to satisfy the requirements for my degree. I worked hard and received an A in the class.

Since then, ear training has been an important aspect of the work that I do with my private students - I have developed numerous techniques (and access various texts) to teach this subject. As a jazz musician, and free improviser, it is essential that my ear is in tune and I can detect scales, intervals, chords and melodies without fail.


I have been writing for more than 30 years. I have composed works for rock bands and other pop projects, jazz ensembles, and I have composed for orchestra and choir, setting poetry for ensembles by masters like Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot and Marina Tsvetaeva.

I studied song-writing at Blue Bear College of Music with Bonnie Hayes, back in 1980, and have studied composition at College of the Redwoods (where I earned my AA) and at the University of Southern California (where I earned my BA). I have been awarded numerous commissions and prizes, and grants for my compositions, and enjoy working with young musicians and composers to help them find their own voice, while exploring a variety of styles.

Voice (Music)

While earning my BA in music education at the University of Southern California, I was asked to complete two years of voice training, take a semester of choral conducting, and compose works for choir. In addition, I was asked to perform in several composer's compositions as a singer. The experience in voice classes not only helped me to become a better singer, but it explored how to use the voice, and the complexities of the vocal mechanism - how to use it without straining the voice along with ways to protect and preserve the voice.

Since then I have composed numerous works for voice and chamber groups, choir and orchestra, conducted choirs, and performed in numerous ensembles as a member of a choir.

My early, pre-college experience includes singing in several rock bands.


In addition to coursework at College of the Redwoods, Glendale College and the University of Southern California, where I earned an MA in 20th Century Literature, I served as head of the writing department at the Institute for Reading Development for five years.

I also taught coursework in reading and writing skills at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University for four years.

In addition, I have been teaching literary and writing coursework at various high schools since 1993, and enjoy working with students to improve their writing skills and develop confidence with a variety of styles, assignments and work-related writing projects.

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University of Southern California (Music Education)

University of Southern California (Master's)

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $60.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Phillip will travel within 20 miles of Emeryville, CA 94608.

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