PHILIP McNAMARA – 1st April 1962 to 9th May 2024

Philip McNamara

I write as a long-time colleague and friend of Phil McNamara, who passed away on May 9th at the relatively early age of 62. His health had not been good for a couple of years, but none of us expected that he would actually die of the strokes and lung complications which eventually, and shockingly, took him from us - his family, friends, colleagues and students.

I first met Phil when he came to a gong workshop I gave in Churchstoke, mid-Wales in 2007. At that time Phil was already familiar with the gong as a percussion instrument, to be played sparingly at key dramatic moments in certain orchestral works by Romantic and more modern composers. He had been an amateur percussionist for many years, playing with various orchestras, and knew the gong’s orchestral repertoire like the back of his hand – it was a specialist topic about which he had a good deal of knowledge.

Attending the Wales gong workshop, though, gave him a different dimension of understanding about the gong as a therapeutic instrument which could be used for Sound Healing. I remember his reaction as we worked through the weekend class, and his joy and delight at having discovered this new way of playing and using this powerful instrument. He was hooked right from the get-go, and that started his journey into the Gong Therapy/Sound Healing world.

When I wrote and started teaching the Gong Practitioner Course for the College of Sound Healing in 2009/10, Phil was a student on the first Course. From there he went from strength to strength, throwing himself into the gong Sound Healing work with the gusto that he always displayed as an Aries, driven by his passions and thirst for knowledge.

At that time he still had a day job as a safety advisor in the nuclear industry, but he soon became a Tutor, wanting to teach his own workshops and run gongbath events, as well as helping me on the Course. In 2010 when I wrote and published my first book, Phil wasn’t far behind with his own – “Gongs and Tam-Tams”, and we did collaborate a little on content, as he used to enjoy telling the students! He was currently working on a revision of his book, which is widely known and used in the gong world. And he had just started teaching his own Gong Craft Course.

Phil was a scientist and quite left-brained, although conversely he was also very intuitive. As a musician I come more from the right brain, and tend to see things in a more holistic, esoteric way. We had discussions and occasionally gentle disagreements about the way we saw certain things, but it was always amicable and respectful. I greatly valued his scientific approach to the gong work, and he was an invaluable source of knowledge and information, which he was happy to share freely.

He always did a morning’s teaching for me at Session 2 of the yearly Gong Practitioner Course, and also facilitated the Planet Gong Trek at Session 5. He was an excellent teacher, with a very clear way of putting the information across, and the students liked him. We will miss him terribly, especially at those two weekend sessions – it won’t be the same without him, especially his signature corny jokes, which always made us groan!

As a man, Phil was quintessentially English – he reminded me a little of my father actually (also an Aries) – somewhat old fashioned in many ways, and was quite a rare character in today’s modern world. He leaves behind two sons – Connor and Finn – both of whom he introduced to the gongs at an early age.. I recall photographs of Connor already being shown how to play his Paiste Moon gong while still virtually a babe in arms!

The greater Gong Community is a family, and we are all saddened by Phil’s passing, especially those of us who knew him well and worked with him on a regular basis. He is a huge and irreplaceable loss to my College of Sound Healing Tutor team, and to his students. However, knowing Phil and his passion for the gongs, I am sure he will be continuing to work with us from wherever he is now.

RIP Phil... I think you fulfilled your mission here with flying colours. Wishing you all the best on your onward journey. And we will cherish all the happy memories

Sheila Whittaker 23.5.24

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