Hi, I’m Philip Kebbell and this is my bio, and how I got to become a Music Tech Teacher.
I’m a Musician – Keyboards being my main instrument, very basic Guitar, Electronics Engineer – Mainly Audio and some IT hardware, and an Internet Publisher.
My musical tastes are open minded and I’ll listen to almost anything as there’s always some good to be found in many music genres be it from either a musical or production point of view.
It all started right back when my Mother was teaching me to talk. She was into recording all sorts of stuff on a very old valve Grundig reel to reel tape machine. She even recorded me trying to say ‘tape machine’ without too much success, but that’s what started it all for me.
My Early Sound Recording Experimental Years
I then started recording all sorts of things like music from the radio just using the poor quality microphone supplied with the tape deck and placing it in front of the radio speaker, and I couldn’t understand why it sounded dreadful. I moved onto recording natural things like thunderstorms, rain, creating my own sound effects and so on, but the poor old mic just wasn’t up to it.
Curious About How Tape Recording Works
The recording process fascinated me and I was curious as to how a tape machine worked and soon discovered it was magnetic when I was given a small reel portable tape recorder that used a permanent magnet to erase the tape prior to recording new material. A really crude erasing method, but this led me to discover Sound – on – Sound. If I removed the magnet I was able to add new sound onto the tape without totally erasing the previous recording and this sparked a whole load of fresh imagination, creating more weird sound effects.
Enter the Record Player and Radio
While I continued experimenting with tape I also got into early records starting with a 78 portable wind-up Gramophone my mother used when she was a teenager and was amazed that it did not need any electronics the hear the sound. The problem was that sometimes it was too loud, and the only way to quieten it down was to stuff cloth down the horn to mute it a bit. As for radio, how did this wireless device work? It was all a fascinating mystery to me and I just had to find out how it all worked.
Besides dabbling with sound recording, record players, radio and occasionally nearly blowing myself up or suffering the odd electric shock from playing around with the innards of these devices (no health and safety back in those days), I did find the time to study piano and passed my grade VIII by the age of 16.
My Career in Sound, Music and Engineering
Once I reached 16 I decided to quench my thirst for knowledge on how all this audio equipment worked by attending a basic electronics evening course. I’d rush home from school, grab something to eat and was straight out of the door to attend my regular Thursday evening training and I built my very first transistor radio which actually worked despite myself!!
Once I completed that and also left school I secured an apprenticeship with Decca Ltd who were not only a famous record label, but also manufactured a whole load of electronics equipment from domestic radio, TV and HiFi to military grade Radar and Satellite, and this is where I qualified as an electronics engineer and got to work in many departments of the company.
Work Experience with Sound Engineering and Production
I was fortunate enough to land myself a job in the Record Production department where I built and maintained custom record decks for the Quality Control section as well as doing audio metric tests for would-be staff employed to sit and listen to records all day to analyze vinyl surface noise. It was an interesting experience as I learned a lot about the record production process.
Recording Studio Experience
After Decca I worked at Trident Recording Studios in London as a Tea Person (the way people still get started today incidentally), which had both its downsides, i.e. making tea for everyone, both clients and staff as well as running around getting food from the local Soho district, getting very strange propositions from weird people (it was the ‘red light’ area at the time!), but on the positive side it was a great way to learn all about microphone techniques, setting them up and positioning them for optimized sound.
Some of the artists who recorded at Trident were Phil Collins with Genesis, Elton John, Quantum Jump, Renaissance, Max Merritt and the Meteors amongst others. I got to see Genesis record one of their classic albums ‘Then There were Three’.
The other major studio was Morgan Recording Studios which was a four studio complex, one of these was large enough to hold a full orchestra such as the kind that perform at the Albert Hall Promenade Concerts.
With my electronics background I was a Maintenance Engineer doing anything from changing a light bulb to stripping down a complete studio and refitting it out with new equipment. No day was ever the same as faults were many with so much complex equipment around, but it did give me the chance to sit in on sessions and meet some of the artists involved.
Some of the artists who recorded at Morgans were Thin Lizzy, The Cure, The Enid, Black Sabbath, Joan Armatrading, Rod Stewart recorded his earlier work such as Maggie May, but that was before my time there, Hot Chocolate as well as the BBC using it for TV theme tunes such as Citizen Smith – a classic comedy series, and ITV’s South Bank Show featuring Julian Lloyd Weber on Cello.
I have also been on the other side of the mic as keyboard player for Jazz Funk, Soul and Function bands, recorded a few tracks in studios of different sizes and equipment levels.
How I Became a Music Technology Teacher
With all the stories I told my partner about my musical and recording studio experience, she was interested in learning about it for herself, and discovered The Recording Workshop advertised in one of the music publications at the time and enrolled on the first course. I decided to update my knowledge especially regarding digital technology and wanted to learn more about Tech stuff like MIDI, Sampling and Music Sequencers and so I joined her on the advanced courses, and I suppose, due to my experience and the fact I ended up helping others on the courses I attended, Jose, The Course Leader of The Recording Workshop asked me if I’d like to teach, which I was delighted to accept, and I have been doing so since 1994.