When I spot someone on the phone during a show…

I love performing and speaking at C2 Montreal.

This year I was about to lead into introducing Andre Agassi onstage when I spotted a lady playing with her phone. I decided to make her a bit of a star for the day.

Compose Yourself – music composition game

Philip3yrsOldI recently invented a game concerned with creative music play called Compose Yourself, and I’m really excited to share it with you.

I’m pretty sure that given the right tools, anybody can become a composer. It’s an easy thing to say, but actually I’m sure It’s true!

Some of the greatest musicians I’ve worked with, from the classical world, the film music world & the rock music world haven’t been able to read a note of music. It hasn’t stopped them from having full, successful and exciting musical lives.

When I was very young I really wanted to make music.
Actually, to be very honest with you, I just wanted to make lots of noise, and music seemed the best way to do this without getting into too much trouble.

At the age of three, I decided I was going to play the cello. It sounds like a cliche, but I heard a cello on the radio and fell in love with it. I actually remember the moment very clearly. It was the Elgar cello concerto played by Jacqueline Du Pré.

When I saw pictures of a cello and realised that it was much much bigger than a violin I was in love. That was it. I was going to play the cello…

That photo above is me on the day I had my first lesson. Looking back on it now I realise I was so lucky that my teacher also happened to be a kindergarten headteacher. She really knew how to make learning fun, and more importantly she knew how to play with music. Believe me, in the UK in the 70s, classical music was very very serious.

Not for fun. Nope…

The photo shows me playing a piece of music that she wrote and taught me in my first lesson. The piece was called Charlie and Fred and it was a simple thing that she’d written about her two pet Cavies. Most importantly, it was a piece of music about something I cared about, and it was written by someone I knew. Looking back on it now I realise that this was a really unusual way to teach music at the time, and it totally worked for me.

I loved playing her piece. It sounded amazing to me. I would play it for as many hours as I could. At no point didn’t occur to me that I was practising…
(Actually the way I played it at the time, it probably sounded horrible, but it’s still one of the most exciting moments of my life!).

I remember being so excited that I could make abstract noises that painted pictures in my mind, and to be honest, I still get very excited about this.

I’m now a film composer with more than 30 movie scores to my name, and I now get to paint pictures with music all day. I can’t begin to explain how much fun this is, but I can share the feeling a little bit.

This is the reason I invented Compose Yourself, so kids can make their own music – music that paints wonderful, colourful pictures in their minds.

Music can take kids on wild and exciting musical journeys, and they can make music about absolutely anything. One of the children I was teaching in Harlem number of years ago wrote to me after the composition project we were running.

I’ll never forget what he said,

‘… I like writing music. Music makes me feel important…’


Kids have no idea that writing music is difficult (until adults point it out), so let’s keep it easy for them! This game is a powerful set of musical building blocks. The moment children make up their very first tune, they become Composers.

Here’s a little film about the game:

.Being a composer is like having a special power. A power that can make people dance, sing and cry (in a good way).
Now, that’s a real superpower….


Philip Sheppard live at Abbey Road

Philip Shepard at C2MTL - Photo by  Jimmy Hamelin
Philip Sheppard at C2MTL – Photo by Jimmy Hamelin

Here’s what I did after a long day of recording in Abbey Road one night last week. I’d been conducting the fantastic English Session Orchestra all day, and my brain was in another place.

I was speaking a language far from English, and things were swimming in front of my eyes. Rather than start heading home, I decided to decompress a bit.

There’s a deeply unusual documentary I’m writing at the moment, so I put the film on, Gordon, my fantastic engineer set everything to record and I got ready to play along. In the end, I ended up doing a 59 minute solo take on my cello – which is something of a record for me… It was a bit surprising seeing as my arms were really aching from conducting all day.

Anyway, here’s the result. (Don’t worry, it’s not 59 minutes).

Philip Sheppard scores Star Wars trailer

Star wars celloI’ve always loved Star Wars, so was rather delighted when Disney & JJ Abrams requested to use some music I’d composed for the new Star Wars Force Awakens trailer/ teaser (behind the scenes) film as revealed at Comic Con in San Diego last night.

The piece they used is a reworking of a track I wrote called ‘Epiphany’. It’s now called The Force Epiphany, and it’s on an EP I’m releasing called Strange News from Another Star. The wonderful images with the tracks are by my friend Trey Ratcliff.

Here’s the trailer:

Philip Sheppard 2015

Joining Cirque du Soleil

PhilipSheppardCirqueCelloNo, that is not my normal cello…

Last month I travelled to Vegas to join Cirque Du Soleil for a special One-off show as a featured musician along with the wonderful John Legend.

The whole show was in aid of One Drop, and amazing charity established by Cirque to help those in need find water supplies.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and I’m writing more about this very soon.

Here’s one of the pieces I played.

Human Universe Soundtrack

Here’s a preview of my score for Human Universe featuring Professor Brian Cox, which debuts tonight on BBC2.

We’re going to release the soundtrack on iTunes, Spotify and many other digital music platforms shortly.

If you’d like to receive a one-off email when this is released, just leave us a short message below naming your favourite track.

You’ll get a free download of one of my other film scores by way of thanks.

And, you’ll really be helping us, as the most popular track will become the first track on the album.

Composer, Producer, Musician & Inventor


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