All The Information In The World

Ideally, as parents, we would prefer to trust our instincts. However from time to time, we might pay a brisk visit to google and search for an edge, some information that will tick all the right boxes and put our minds at ease. Is that what actually happens? Or do we get lost in all the ideas and opinions, forgetting why we came?

The semi-sad reality is that the most clicked on words/phrases from google searches are: “how to” or “free” and no search would be complete without “tips,” “why,” “best” and “tricks.” The quadrillion dollar question you may be asking yourself is, how does this help me as a parent and more importantly my child?

Information is only half the battle or perhaps a battle in itself. Synthesising it into a simple life is the gold. So what do our kids need from us as parents? Love, of course. The dedication to keep growing, would be up there. Our trust within the context of their age, another. Do they need us to possess some sort of googability? Actually, I’m not so sure. It’s an important question and the answer cannot be static, it will continue to evolve as they do. A bit like the algorithms on google.

Firstly, I believe they need us not to panic or if we are to panic, do it profusely in another room somewhere quiet. Secondly, they need us to listen. To take them seriously where they are, even if they don’t take you anything. We must strive to be laid back. To be quietly confident, setting a consistent example and clear boundaries, yet with the flexibility to allow them to create enjoyment for themselves and enough freedom for them to grow. If you cannot manage this, use the power of the force. If you don’t have kids and this is putting you off, er, warning, this blog entry may be an effective contraceptive.

About ten years ago, it was all about work life balance. In today’s oligarchy, it’s all about work, no life, imbalance. How do we “sell” this over extension to our kids? We used to go on picnics, now the traffic jam is our picnic! (Saw this on Peppa Pig) Hmm, smell those possible carcinogens.

As a parent, teacher and part time comedian, I’m really pro active about providing a realistic balance between physical and mental activity for kids. This foundation will enable them to develop both their fine and gross motor skills and critical thinking skills in a holistic way. I believe music needs sport and to some degree, sport needs music. This relationship must be nurtured and appreciated if we are to raise kids with the potential to be greats and let’s be clear, we need all the help we can get these days.

Music is a great gift to share with your children. Once autonomous, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Handy at family gatherings too! It’s a language and a skill that can be used throughout a lifetime. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I heard somebody say, ‘I wish I didn’t give up piano,” I could retire to the Caribbean and divert some funds to the Cayman Islands. Happily, most of the students I take on, leave many years later with a love of music that won’t leave them.

If you’re still wondering where to begin with your toddler, it’s prudent to break things into rhythm and melody at such a formative age. By keeping it simple, you can engage children and teach them through mirrored enjoyment. The physical aspects of music are particularly important early on, for example, marching or clapping in common time (1,2,3,4), dancing, jumping, listening and even additional singing if it’s a good day for you! This is a great way to start.

What I believe makes good parents and teachers is the ability to observe and listen. Ironically, all the things that also make really good kids.

You don’t need to be in a musical profession or be a musician to involve your children in music. There are amazing interactive toys on the market along with many instruments specifically designed for kids. Next time you’re shopping, check out the toy section. Like you haven’t been dragged their kicking and screaming before. Or if heading to the shops isn’t on your list of things to do, you can always check out a music app online.

The benefits of music lessons for children assist physical and mental development in so many ways. Not only are they developing and improving their hand-eye coordination, but they will also improve their concentration and develop a lot of self confidence. The positives are far reaching and go beyond music education.

The study of music engages both hemispheres of the brain and this skill is carried into adulthood. It also enhances spatial temporal reasoning ability which can assist in grasping concepts behind maths, science and engineering. Not to mention, it’s amazing to be able to play or sing a favourite song. You’ll get invited to a truckload of parties!

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Welcome…

Hi Y’all! How’s the internet treating you?

I am a classical and contemporary musician, dedicated music teacher, performer and music producer with over twenty years experience in the entertainment industry.

As a teacher, providing music lessons, I am passionate about the arts and education and care very deeply about the student, seeking to holistically engage their passion for the arts and music.

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Formerly trained in classical piano, a music scholarship student of Perth Modern School and WAAPA, I have released two albums with a third on the way, simply titled “Piano V.1, V.2 and V.3.” These volumes contain some of my favourite repertoire from the late romantic and early twentieth century piano literature.

Each album has a colour theme. Blue, Red and Green. The first (blue) represents the sky and the sea, the second (red), the heart, and the third (green), nature and the earth. They reflect our realities, dreams and priorities at different stages of a lifetime.

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As a contemporary keyboard player, I guess you could describe my “sound” as a tasteful rhythm and blues based pop, however I am also well versed in jazz and have performed in this genre regularly. I have been fortunate to be engaged by many of the biggest companies to perform and entertain in various musical capacities.

My forte as a music producer is being able to take an average song arrangement and get it ready for the market. I have helped to design and shape the music and audio image of many artists, entertainers and media organisations. I also enjoy mentoring and working with vocal and instrumental talent which hopefully helps to inspire them in some way. I was fortunate to have several great teachers, who inspired me to continue the journey, such as my dear friend Martin Clarke, an inductee of the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Meeting and working with artists is never dull and incredibly rewarding, in any capacity from music tuition to musical arranging or working as a music producer in our recording studio facility.

Being a seasoned performer, either as a classical piano soloist or in a popular live duo/trio, acoustically or electronically, means a wide range of entertainment options for your special event or professional engagement.

Recording Studio

According to scientists, dinosaurs became extinct around sixty seven million years ago. The general consensus was that an astroid hit the earth causing living conditions to deteriorate. It is completely the opposite of recording studios. Somehow, they still exist, but once large, the size of a brachiosaurus, they were hit with the introduction of new technologies.

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The recording studio, whilst smaller, still managed to survive and in many cases thrive, able to function with all, if not more ingenuity, than the past. The only threat to these once monolithic, now room size structures dying out, is not with larger studio spaces, but with a diminished capacity to appreciate art. Capturing audio can be done by anybody, anytime at any place, legally permitting. Just ask Apple. The game has changed.

We believe that the way forward is to find out who you are, build your niche and in turn, value each and every creative relationship, treating it with the utmost care and consideration.

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It would be very easy to be cynical with literally thousands of people vying for business, but in our studio environment, we are very passionate about educating the consumer. We prefer to sensitise, rather than desensitise.

As both trained professional musicians, the “music producer, audio engineer” combo is irresistible, in terms of sonic results. We can create a sound from any musical era or design an original audio signature to suit your overall image.

If you are a singer, songwriter, play a musical instrument or can rap hip hop, then we wholeheartedly believe the first studio you should contact, is ours.

The reason for this confidence is our grounding and unique skill set and above all else, our ears. We foster a totally creative environment and believe that you will leave us, having exceeded expectations, inspired, with a product that is totally top shelf.

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Our recording studio, located south of Perth, in Western Australia is designed for the contemporary musician and the small business technologist.

Primarily, our role is to listen, share your vision and guide you in the direction you wish to go. We will assess your musical language and offer constructive feedback and abundant solutions, enabling you to explore with creative freedom.

We are a recording studio with a varied list of satisfied clients. Aside from albums, EP’s and singles, we are also able to record or track soloists and groups in real time, analogue or digital. Take original DAW session files in Logic Pro or Pro Tools and work with an artist to create magic. Archive collections of vinyl or tapes to disc for prosperity. Provide backing tracks for stage shows. Track additional parts for album projects elsewhere. Record and mix voice overs and commercials. Provide station branding/imaging for radio or podcasting. Create stunning, magical wedding memories. Add fat musical arrangements to your songs. Lay down live sets for DJ’s and provide live brainstorming sessions for vocalists and musicians to reference.

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We also offer a range of corporate audio and video solutions and will match any competitor for quality and affordability.

By the time you are ready to master your music, create and press the disc, upload for digital download or go live, we would have completed the picture for you, allowing you peace of mind, to simply be the artist or content creator.

Today, the only thing that really separates us, is the technology. The idea is still the same and is just as exciting. We want to bring heart back into business. The sort of creativity that inspires, gives goosebumps or makes the spine tingle.

Seeing an artists dreams realised is a fantastic feeling. It is such a great privilege to work with talent in helping them establish a sound or take the next step in their careers. We have over thirty years combined experience and know how to create great content for musicians that want to be noticed.

Our recording studio, located south of Perth, is a culmination of this experience. We are able to recognise the vast difference between average and professional and your final result will speak for itself.

To begin, call us on 0438 382 048.

Meet The Producer & Engineer

Justin James

My journey as a musical arranger and producer began in the lounge room of our family home. My Mother was a contracted broadcaster for ABC radio and was a regular on the concert circuit. This inspired me to begin learning the piano and percussion.

It wasn’t long before I found an effective way of capturing my own musical performances during practice, initially using an analogue reel to reel tape machine, then morphing to a cassette recorder. Once I knew a bit more, it was time to use multi track tape, move to digital audio recorder and eventually, the various DAW’s available on computer such as Logic Pro or Pro Tools, but still with that an original blueprint for warm analogue sound.

It is really hard to encapsulate a career that spans several decades. I have done just about everything there is to do within the music industry. I have performed, recorded, consulted, managed, presented and produced media programs/content and most of all, had a great time.

For a decade, inside all the other activity, I was busy writing, recording and submitting songs to publishers. Slowly, over time, there was an accumulation of gear and a studio appeared. I began working with songwriters, instrumentalists, d-jays, rappers and just about every kind of artist. Several albums and EP’s later, the studio continues to grow thanks to the quality of work and the relaxed, professional environment we provide for clients.

Seeing an artists dreams realised is a fantastic feeling. It is such a privilege to share in their vision and work with talent in helping them establish a sound or take the next step in their careers. Sometimes, it is just that one piece of advice or one new approach that can spawn incredible growth for an artist.

My trained musical ear has been utilised in helping bands form a core sound, recording artists and entertainers, presenting award winning radio programs, researching and interviewing musical celebrities and creating commercials or shaping the sound of a commercial radio brand.

I even worked at the famous, Jingles Australia with the late Gordon Inglis. I got to do everything from making tea, to performing, arranging and directing a voice over or vocal take. Gordon had acquired the first Fairlight CMI in the state. There were nights I worked so late, it was time for breakfast and I remember the smell, sleeping on one of those fine studded leather sofas.

I have won awards for both presentation and production, but believe that awards are not as important as the client. Ultimately, it is the people that make the experience.

Some of the types of work I have done over the years includes archiving a gentleman’s amazing collection of vinyl to a digital format. Recording/tracking vocals for an album that was to be mixed and mastered elsewhere. Working on original EP’s for artists. Adding musical arrangements to already established songs. Assisting those with limited musical arranging skills or production skills in making their DAW sessions come to life. Recording the voice over for a documentary presentation. Providing backing tracks for a live performer’s stage show. Recording a singer songwriter and capturing their unique live performance. Preparing songs for weddings and special occasions. Assembling a backing tape for shopping centres. Capturing a live set for a local d-jay and running a brainstorming session for a singer to take away and write from. This is just a small portion of the work.

We use gear that is at the top of the audio tree. From Avalon to Empirical Labs to Manly. We deliver great results at the most affordable price in Perth. Put us to the test and find out for yourself.

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Classical Pianist

Justin James is a classical and contemporary pianist with an affinity for the music of the 19th and 20th century periods, especially that of Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofieff, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff.

Aged four, Justin began playing his first notes and has never lost touch with the instrument. Growing up exposed to creativity in a musical household, with a considerable amount of classical and jazz influences and his Mother, a contracted live musical broadcaster with the ABC for a decade, was also a significant factor.

Justin began formal studies at the age of six and by thirteen, had mastered much of the romantic piano repertoire with a musical sensitivity beyond his years. A former student of Perth Modern School, as part of the music scholarship program, he also trained in classical piano at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, studying with Robert Curry (student of Charles Rosen) and Pauline Belviso (student of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli).

Introducing, Justin James – Piano V.1

His debut recording is simply called, Justin James – Piano V.1. It is a collection of “timeless” compositions for the piano, when the piano was at the height of it’s power.

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Justin James Piano V.1 begins with the expressive and ornamental Nocturne of Chopin as we are taken on a poetic musical journey featuring the delicate Minute Waltz and two Preludes which include the elegant Raindrop, culminating in two of Chopin’s most cherished and technically difficult Etudes. Classical piano at the height of virtuosity.

From there, we melt into the sonorous tranquillity of Debussy’s first Arabesque and second Image from Book Two, showcasing the natural acoustics of both instrument and venue. Two “Chopinesque” Etudes from the lyrical Scriabin transport us to a climactic finale with several scintillating Preludes and the fourth Moment Musical of Rachmaninoff, highlighting the incredible depth and power of the grand piano.

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Justin James Piano V.2 was highly anticipated and further explores the beauty and artistry of influential 19th and 20th century composers. Justin James performs and records a timeless selection of the most cherished piano music ever written.

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Please support locally performed and recorded music and purchase Justin James Piano V.1 or V.2! Visit www.justinjames.com/shop

Social Experiment

You may have seen this on social media over the last few years…

It was a cold, January morning and a man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till without stopping and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother hurried him along, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.

Finally, the mother pushed harder and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Kids, Music & Movement

As selfless parents, we take an active role in our children’s daily routines. Often, this can leave you feeling devoid of energy. Being a parent is a demanding job with hours of overtime and no holidays.

To be at our best, responding to the ever changing needs of our children, at different stages of their lives, physical exercise is essential.

I cannot endorse physical exercise enough for parents wanting to create meaningful change in their lives and the lives of their family. It is a catalyst.

In the past few years, my understanding of exercise has dramatically increased. I used to believe that regular routines were an easy way to build strength and stamina. While, this is correct in a general sense, there is a lot more available for us to explore.

Today, the primary reason for exercise is to generate positive energy, creative thinking and contentment that comes from physical and biological fitness.

When people ask me why I train with some intensity, they are often surprised by the answer. It is only a fringe benefit that the body develops into having the curves and toning that both weight loss and muscle gain brings. For me, the results are evident in the deeper relationship with the musical language it brings.

People who haven’t invested much thought into exercise may perceive it as a “fix” for being at an undesirable weight. While this is true, fitness doesn’t evolve in a straight line or one dimensionally. Slim guys need weight loss and fat guys need weight gain. Like the study of piano, there is a lot of counter-intuition.

When you understand diet, appropriate formulas, warming up/down, how specific exercises affect muscle groups, correct techniques, how many calories to burn and what heart rate burns fat versus muscle, you will be ready to get some pretty significant results.

Whether it be going to the gym and using the creche facilities, doing a cardio or weights program, swimming, riding a bike, surfing or kite surfing, playing footy, cricket, going for a walk/run, there is something for every parent and the children. If you are fit, parenting is more fun.

For a long time, my weekly routine has consisted of bike riding, cardio and weights sessions incorporating constant variation on different muscle groups, cross training, running, rowing and aerobics. Water, especially salt water is also great, so weather permitting, hitting the beach for a swim or surf is a natural choice.

No two people are alike, so it is important to track your preparation, workout and recovery and try different techniques.

A few weeks ago, I did a triathlon and was startled at just how easily I finished although this can vary dramatically. Like the big bad wolf, there was some huffing and puffing, however I was able to recover easily and generally keep up the intensity. It was surprising!

Age and circumstance must to a degree, dictate what works for you. At a minimum, I would recommend two or three thirty minute workouts per week. I prefer a high level of fitness although with it, comes the responsibility of a good diet.

As parents, time management is more important than ever. Be realistic and set small goals first. If you’re too hard on yourself, it won’t develop. Self defeat is not an option.

Exercise can give you clarity of mind and that extra energy needed to be even more of a responsive, selfless and dedicated parent. We all want our children to lead happy, fulfilling lives and the first step is teaching them by example. The result of your exercise spills into your role as a parent in so many ways and this truly is the biggest positive about deciding to get fit. The kids benefit!

When my son and daughter need me, I am able to respond accordingly. I can add joy and creativity to my role as a parent, whether it be enjoying a beautiful “transient” moment, singing a song, reading and sharing a book, helping with homework, listening, preparing a meal or snack, setting and negotiating boundaries and packing bags for playgroup or school. They see me living in the moment and so they then do the same. Life has a natural uncomplicated rhythm when you are physically and mentally fit.

Parents and families take note. Exercising is the answer to an upgraded version of you. It’s great for the mind and wouldn’t you know, especially good for learning music too!

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