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Having grown up in York and started playing the piano at seven, James went on to study music at City University (London), specialising in composition, sound recording and production, and music business. As part of his degree programme he studied piano performance with Laura Roberts at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

James composes primarily for solo piano and in 2019 released his debut album, Musical Escapades, with sheet music published by Editions Musica Ferrum. The publication was rated 'outstanding'  and praised for its 'highly enjoyable mix of musical styles' by leading piano blog Pianodao. Reflections in Waltz - James' second book of solo piano compositions - was published in 2020 by Musica Ferrum, while another two publications are in development for release in 2021.

James plays a prominent role in the UK music education sector through his work with ABRSM, the UK's largest music education body and the world's leading provider of music exams. He works closely with music hub leaders, schools and teachers across London & South East UK in his role as Regional Development Executive, and presents on a range of topics at conferences, seminars and INSET sessions across the region. Previous roles with ABRSM have taken James on educational visits to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.