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Phil Nov 2021.jfif

I've played in all sorts of bands over the last 50 years;  punk, alternative, jazz, pop, rock, big bands, show pits, function, salsa & world music, always keen to try something new really.  I either played bass, guitar or piano/keyboards in these bands - always been a bit of a jack-of-all-trades).      

By the time I reached my early twenties I do remember feeling frustrated with what little I knew about music, I wanted more, the whole picture and had a burning desire for a broader knowledge of music other than 4/4 rock riffs (which I luv of course).  So I started going to night school and also started learning to read music.  A girlfriend bought me a knackered piano for £50 and I started to learn to play.  


For a few years I carried on at night-school (with a wonderful teacher, Bernard Reader) and I took myself through the early piano grades.  The culmination of this process was going to Colchester Institute as a full-time music student when I was 29.  I had never imagined I could go to music college (it was like suddenly becoming a member of the cast of 'Fame'), but I did and spent five great years there, learning so much.  The last three years studying a music degree.  I ended up with a 2:1, specialising in Composition and Music in Education.  It was here I took my grade 8 piano, although I still preferred modern music styles and song-writing to classical piano playing. The examiner noted in my certificate report that my Mozart attempt basically scraped thru and said something like "... but this not MOZART!)

When I left in 1995 I started my career as a self-employed musician, mainly teaching but also recording other musicians and performing in bands.  I worked in all sorts of schools teaching music; state, private, special needs, running bands, teaching one-to-one and class.  I worked for years in an EBD school (emotional & behavioural difficulties) where I set up a couple of bands.  I also began teaching pupils from home, mainly children from my local community, who came to learn music in my home studio.

Throughout all this time I have always had a passion for songwriting, it's what drove me into music really at 14... ... always encouraged it with my pupils, played as much original music in bands as I could (in fact I never played in a cover band till I was 29 (to make money at college), and have always preferred recording musicians playing their own music. I see song-writing as a craft, a long process of experience & knowledge (ooh la la) and I've done a long apprenticeship! 


    Just to put things into perspective (as my dad frequently reminded me) I've never made a penny out of my songwriting.  I did once do a commission for a client who asked me to write some music for putting people to sleep - he was a hypnotherapist, and liked my work.

 Anyway, song-writing is something I'll probably do all my life.  As well as the 'expression' it allows me, I'm simply fascinated by songs & songwriting.

Part of the reason I rented Dove Studio was to give this a boost. To attract musicians and to be able to rehearse and record easily.  Being able to easily accommodate a real drummer for instance, rather than drum machines, and to be able to record bands all together

... to capture the magic and atmosphere of a band playing together. I think of the recording 'event', hit the red button, as a photograph, a one-off perfect moment in time.

Dove Studio - Phil Graves

FEBRUARY 2025 details to follow...

For the last many years, down Whitefoot Lane, I have had the pleasure to work with Jason Scopes

and Ollie Billsberry.

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