Allow me to introduce myself
Hi, my name is James Kael and welcome to my website. I live in Stoke-on-Trent, I teach piano and music theory and I want to encourage you to start learning them. I expect you’ll want to know a bit about me before you decide whether you want me to teach you, so here is a brief overview of my musical experience.
Why the piano?
I started playing an instrument at 8 years old, sawing away at a less than full size but not adorably tiny violin. By the age of 13 I was drawn to the more solo-orientated self-accompanying world of the pianist and decided to make a start, even if I didn’t imagine I could ever be as good as the people I knew who had been playing since they were 5. Thankfully I was wrong and what started out as a side project eventually became my career.
Teaching and learning
In 2007 I moved to Stoke-on-Trent (I still have a hint of a Bristolian accent) and set up my music teaching business in 2013. I have taught students with a wide range of ages and experiences and am particularly passionate about encouraging adult beginners to finally realise what is often a long-held dream of being able to play the piano. If this is you then I am here to tell you that age is no barrier to learning – there is no magic age after which it becomes impossible to learn an instrument, and in my experience thus far any piece named before the phrase “but I’ll probably never be able to play that” (or words to that effect) in the first lesson has been something that can be achieved in a few years, rather than a few lifetimes.
In addition to teaching students I also compose my own music, both studies for learners and solo piano pieces, which you can find in the Downloads section. The sight-reading exercises available there have been extended into full ebooks, containing 50 originally composed sample tests aimed at students preparing for the ABRSM piano exams.
When I’m not teaching or playing the piano I might spend some time on the other instruments I own – I especially enjoy the classical guitar but also have an electric guitar (which you will see on its stand in my teaching room), ukulele and soprano/treble recorders. Learning a second (or third, or fourth…) instrument is something I highly recommend for teachers – firstly it’s a lot of fun, and secondly it is very useful for reminding us what it is like to be a beginner.
What I like to play
I mainly teach classical music because that’s what’s been the primary focus of my own studies but also contains rock, jazz, cheesy 90s pop, show tunes, TV themes, video game music and a Monty Python songbook with some very strange notation layouts. My favourite studies are those written by Friedrich Burgmüller which are both technically useful and musically captivating from beginner to advanced level (even if he sometimes went a little overboard with the metronome speeds). Both Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Robert Schumann wrote many enchanting and dramatic pieces during their relatively short and troubled lives; Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn also made wonderful contributions to the piano repertoire of the 19th century.