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, Schumann, 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. 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 iron frame grand piano was soaring to great heights, during the latter part of the industrial revolution and beyond.

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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

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?

After two years that seemed to fly by like two weeks, I lost my Mother to what we originally suspected was Lymphatic Cancer aka Lymphoma. However after many months waiting on autopsy results, it was revealed she died of an adenocarcinoma. This is the most common type of cancer and is normally described in a simpler fashion, for example, breast cancer, bowel cancer etc. Trust her to give me a brain teaser on her way out the door!

What was deceptive about her condition, was that she died of an unknown primary. Meaning, the original tumour was never found. Fortunately, the cancer did not spread to her brain as she was very much in control of her own death. So from that point of view, it can be referred to as a good death.

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My Mum was, and still is, the reason for my success and for the choice I made to pursue a career in music. She was also instrumental in allowing me to form my own opinions about how I want to live my life. But let’s not sugar coat it. She was way out of her depth at times and made some far from enlightened choices.

Mum was a teacher, artist, writer, musician and more importantly, a person of integrity and spirituality. She was simply world class as a pianist, but very happy to be unknown. She saw the erroneous nature of many things, but never dwelt on them, preferring to live life on her terms.

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She created her own reality, aside from the one society attempts to sell us, which made her an invaluable mentor. She gave me a fantastic grounding in the arts, rather than a distilled, watered down “McDonalds” education, that sadly appears to focus more on those running the curriculum and the success of the school, rather than individual qualities.

My Mother is one of the main reasons for my decision to record and release two classical piano albums, with a third in production. For such a vast repertoire, she left the world, having made only a handful of recordings. With newer technology, it afforded me the wonderful opportunity to document my piano performances.

Through great literature and our shared love of music, came a large part of the inspiration to become a teacher. Aside from theoretical aspects, she demonstrated in considerable depth, how to love each person for who they are and see their unique qualities.

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Aside from her brilliant musicianship, she enjoyed painting, beginning with the brush in 1995, studying with well known local artist, Bob Booth. Her acrylic paintings, all originals, are for sale, so please take a look (when they are posted) and register your interest through the address provided. They are authentically signed with some already hanging in various Perth council chambers and others residing in family homes around the state of Western Australia.

My Mother was relatively under appreciated commensurate with her musical gifts. She never wanted or looked for praise, preferring to live up to her own set of high standards. She was highly intelligent, well read, elegant and idealistic to a fault. Often, she would see the good in people to the point of being childlike. She rarely uttered a word in anger and hardly cursed or swore, although I vividly recall a time when she did. It was the day I sat in amazement, watching her play Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.3 from beginning to end, free of error, without any preparation or practice. “Why don’t you want to be a concert pianist,” I exclaimed!  She simply paused, smiled uneasily and said, “I don’t like the bullshit.” Who does right?

She was contracted regularly as a broadcaster with the ABC to present piano works live around Australia, won the local concerto competition twice and performed piano recitals in all corners of Western Australia. As an english, maths and history teacher, she was employed at just about every school around the Perth metro area. And just for fun, she was an accomplished singer, composer, organist and violinist.

Her funeral was attended by a large amount of her former students. It was a beautiful day. She intimated to me a year before she passed, that she always wanted to pass on to me the gifts she had been given. She overwhelmingly succeeded. My teaching and love for education is a living tribute to generations of our family. Their connection to all genres of music dates back further than my Great Grandfathers, Charles John Rooney and Edgar Sanders. Uncles, Syd and Jack played in both the Melbourne and West Australian symphony orchestra as teenagers. In the studio, hang various awards and antiques from the past, acquired throughout the last century. Music has been the lifeblood of our family.

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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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