Facts Of Music® and its founder…
Philippe Willems is the founder of Facts Of Music®. Conceived in Brussels, Belgium, his parents came to Los Angeles 6 months before his birth in January 1957 ( – so that makes him a veritable “Brussels-sprout!”).
Welcome to America! When he was 10 months old, his grandfather, Paul Darcy (a renowned band leader in Europe) observed, “The kid’s got ears – he’s a natural.” Philippe didn’t need any encouragement, as his passion was apparent to everyone. His parents didn’t want him to focus solely on music, but they didn’t discourage him, either. They agreed to give him lessons and the various instruments he would insistently beg for such as: guitars, drums, organ, etc., of course, only after he fulfilled his obligations at school and around the house (not a bad deal, eh?!!!).
By age 12, other parents in the neighborhood were inviting (and paying!) him to teach their kids.
In the 9th grade (1972), Philippe and his friend Nick (Vincent) decided they wanted to go to Music College when they graduated from Taft High School, in Woodland Hills, CA. In 1975, that’s exactly what they did. They both really liked Rock, Pop and Jazz (and just about every other kind of music!), but decided to leave L.A. to study at one of the finest jazz schools anywhere. The University of North Texas College of Music in Denton, Texas (formerly NTSU, “North Texas State”) is the only school ever to have been nominated for a Grammy® award…and to the school’s merit/credit…not just once, but six times. No other school even claims a single nomination!
Upon returning to L.A., Philippe got right back into teaching, writing and playing with all of his old friends. He continued to make new friends as well. Various opportunities kept coming his way, as many of his students and friends were some of the most talented, recognized and connected people (or married to them!) in the industry.
By the late 70’s and early 80’s, he was working with/and around numerous stars and artists as a player, producer, musical director, songwriter and arranger, and more relevantly and importantly…as an educator. All of this led to and included gigs and record dates through his relationships with bands and stars such as Rufus, Chicago, Paul Anka, The Platters, The Imperials, Don Costa, Mireille Mathieu, and many others. It was his privilege and opportunity to play with some of the greatest players of that time. Around 1980, Philippe started commuting back and forth to Las Vegas, and eventually (upon recommendation of his friend Shele Sondheim) decided to re-locate there in 1982 and rent out his L.A home.
At that time, he landed his first job as MD (musical director) at the Strip and Tropicana – some of you might even remember the “Penthouse Pet Revue!” He also had the opportunity to entertain and play for Nevada Governor Bob List at his re-election campaign headquarters that year. He continued teaching and studying education, although there was a bit of a “slow-down” in his musical focus between 1984-88 while he served in the U.S. Navy as an airborne crypto-linguist. He also continued teaching music and guitar to interested crew members, officers and even his Spanish friends and neighbors while living on the beach in sunny-southern Spain (this was a great way to improve his “Spanish chops”).
In his “spare time,” Philippe’s varied interests took him on a couple more journeys aside from music (…remember those academic bribes from his parents?). While in Las Vegas, he attended and graduated from UNLV with a B.A. in French Culture, Civilization, and Literature. He was elected to two honor societies: Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Sigma Iota, Interdisciplinary and Foreign Languages, respectively. He also wanted to serve in the Military before he got too old (too late for the Air Force!). That’s when he decide to train and become an airborne crypto-linguist for the Navy (French and Korean…with a little bit of Russian and Arabic thrown in – no kidding!). He was sent all across the U.S., from San Diego, CA; to Monterey, CA; to San Angelo, TX; to Pensacola, Fl.; to Brunswick, Me – the Navy booked him on a cross-country tour! They finally got him trained and sent him off to lovely southern Spain (which he says was not unlike his native Malibu, CA beach experience growing up – but with less traffic!).
From there, the Navy sent him to fly on and off the carriers in the Mediterranean until late 1988 (his official duties included tactical voice communications and other things “unmentionable”…you need a clearance for him to tell you). This was all fine and dandy, but he also wanted to pursue theological endeavors, as a Christian who wanted “to get to the bottom of all this religious controversy amongst my family and friends.” He started at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon for a year and a half, and then transferred to Dallas, where he was awarded a Presidential Scholarship at Dallas Theological Seminary. He pursued the Th.M (Master of Theology) degree – which took him a total of six and a half years to complete, and is the equivalent of two doctorates in any other endeavor. He kept studying and playing music and continued teaching both basic beginners as well as seasoned instructors on guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals, and even an occasional ukelele student!
Studying languages and primary source texts in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as theology proper and church history, he majored in Hebrew Scripture and minored in academic ministries. Philippe says (when asked why it took so long)…”it just couldn’t be accomplished in a 2-year master’s program, ‘ya know?” It’s interesting to note that even his musicality was affected by, and deepened from what he gained in learning these ancient languages – from which many musical terms originate. This is all passed down in the Facts Of Music® system!
So, knowing just enough to be dangerous (even more dangerous than before…), they cut him loose from Dallas Seminary in 1997 with his Th.M. and he continued to live, teach and develop Facts Of Music® in Texas until 2002. The 5 years between graduation and 2002 were the formative period, in many ways, where the most important changes were applied to and affected the way the Facts Of Music® system was being taught in Dallas since about 1992. He moved back to L.A. in May 2002, where he’s been up to mostly other “GOOD” ever since!
In 2001, Facts Of Music® received its patent on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in International Class 41 for instruction in the field of instrumental music and entertainment. FACTS OF MUSIC® promises to become the new standard in music information technologies, “the new, fast computer on the block of music education and music information solutions.”
The company is owned and operated by Philippe, and since 2003, includes a full-service project studio in Woodland Hills (just a beat away from Hollywood).