PPP054: Learn About Piano Lessons from a Composer’s Point of View with James King III

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James King III is a piano teacher and composer from Key West, Florida. His studio is a mixture of children and retired adults. He says he began piano lessons by accident because of an old piano that belonged to his grandmother.

James was fascinated by the sounds he could make on that piano and he enjoyed watching the hammers hit the strings inside the piano while he played. His parents, naturally, thought he was a musical genius and enrolled him in piano lessons.

Piano Lessons

The first year was easy and James didn’t really have to practice much to master his pieces. During the second year, his teacher helped instill better practicing habits. She also recognized that James was most interested in the “mechanics of music” – music theory. She gave him the tools to compose his own music.

Early Career

After earning his degree in Music Theory and Composition, James discovered that earning a living as a composer wasn’t as forthcoming as he had hoped. He took various jobs that afforded him the opportunity to include his composing skills. He provided an entire audio package for a local host while he worked as a radio DJ. Though he wasn’t passionate about radio, he was grateful for the opportunity to write music and have it be accepted and used.

He served at a United Methodist Church in South Carolina where he was able to write music for the choir, including A Final Blessing, a vocal benediction piece. It was while playing for the church that James was asked about teaching piano.

James realized he was gifted as a teacher because of the amount of patience he had with his students. If a student had a struggle with a music concept, James was eager to try different approaches to help them. The more difficulties they had, the more he was able to stretch himself as a teacher.

For a number of years, James worked as a music editor for Warner Bros. Publications and FJH Music.  Listen to the podcast to learn what James has to say about finger suggestions in music editions.

He still gigs for musical events in Key West.


One of James’ earliest compositions was called “Telephone Talk”. He wrote it as a young student to simulate the sound of a dial tone on the telephone. His teacher entered “Telephone Talk” in a composition contest and James won! His music was engraved the published in the local teacher’s journal.

If a student is struggling with a musical skill or concept, James is very likely to sit down and write a customize piece to meet their need. This is similar to what Bach or Mozart or Beethoven would do for their students.

While learning music does improve our test scores and provide other life lessons, why shouldn’t we also play music simply because we enjoy music?


Practice Tools Available from James’ Website

Practice Perfection Progress Game Board – inspired by the 1980’s arcade game Gorf Helps students improve their pieces through intentional repetitions aiming for mastery to advance up to six level. Board Game Downloadable PDF

Let’s Practice! Cards (Starter Pack) – Two decks are included: a 7-card Daily Practice deck and an 11-card Try This! deck.  *The Let’s Practice! Cards are available at a discounted price for a limited time. Get yours today!

James King’s Website and Compositions

James’ website – www.AlijamMusic.com

Professor King’s Celebrated All-Purpose Exceptional Invigorating Effectacious Good-Time Spirited Composition for the Modern Piano-Forte –  This piece is highly recommended by Duane Davis, Shelly’s husband.

Prelude in G Minor

These pieces are always free at Alijam Music:

Under the Quarter Moon

Brawl on Duval Street

Let’s help James get more subscribers to his YouTube Channel!

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