Woodwinds & Brass Mentor

James is a native of central Virginia.  In the 5th grade he answered the call to “join the band.”  The Clarinet and Saxophone became his #1 Passion as he performed in “1st chair” in many High School Band ensembles, including an All District Band.  He was also given opportunities to direct the High School Concert Band and to become Drum Major of the Marching Band.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, he graduated with a B.A. in Music Education and Performance.  He studied Clarinet and Saxophone under various teachers, including Richmond Symphony musicians.  He performed in community orchestras and many pit orchestras for theater productions.

Now, for over 30 years, he has been serving in music education part-time.  He has been a Band director in Private schools and a Band director of a unique Home School Band program in his home studio in Powhatan County.  He has especially enjoyed performing in and directing a Church Orchestra.  He is now serving in the music ministry at Bethany Place Baptist Church.  He also enjoys photography, landscaping, wood working, and serving his wife as she home schools their 2 children.

Tell us a little bit about your musical background; when you first started, the first experience that made you want to become a musician.

As a 5th grader sitting in Band class with 30 beginner players, I just felt like I had “made it” and this is what I wanted to do the rest of my life.  Later on in High School I received a record (yes, a real record album) of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony for Christmas, my first exposure to Classical music.  I played it over and over and could not figure out why I liked it, but it was the beginning of my desire to study music in college.  Then in 1977, a famous movie hit the theaters with John Williams as the music composer.  That’s when I realized how much music impacts people’s lives.  It is a language, a character in a movie or Broadway Play.  Music became my Passion.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Strauss, Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, and many other contemporary rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s.

Who are some of your biggest Inspirations, musical, and non-musical?

Alan Silvestri and John Williams (both movie composers), Arthur Fiedler (Orchestra director), Robert Zemeckis (movie director), C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia and much, much more).

If you could follow in any musician’s footsteps, who would it be?

John Williams:  Even though he is known mostly for composing music, I have always wanted to create melodies like he has. I very much enjoy directing groups while playing his compositions, and I enjoy performing his music.

If you had the ability to pick anybody to collaborate with musically, who would it be?

I would love to play with an orchestra in a recording session for a movie under the direction of John Williams, or Alan Silvestri, or actually anyone.

What are your plans for the future of your music?

My goal for music right now is to move it from a part-time profession to a full-time profession. I would like to perform more in Orchestras and Bands and have the opportunity to mentor more students.

Areas of Mentorship / Education:

Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, Baritone, Tuba, Percussion, Beginner Band Classes, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band and Recorder Ensemble.

Connect with James