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B i o g r a p h y

Collaborative pianist James Rice holds a Masters in Collaborative Piano from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, a unique state conservatory in Winston-Salem, NC. As a student of Dr. Allison Gagnon, he regularly worked with many other artist-teachers in the piano, voice, and instrumental departments. James also graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a bachelors in music education. In addition to his piano studies with Fay Adams, he studied Suzuki pedagogy. During his semester abroad, James had the pleasure to work with Nicolas Ashton at the Ian Tomlin School of Music at Napier University Edinburgh. More recently, James has worked with collaborative piano specialist Carolyn Bridger in the 2013 Chapel Hill Chamber Music Workshop and with Anne Epperson during her residence at UNCSA the same year. James took French language courses through the Sorbonne during the spring of 2016. Later that year, James was assistant pianist for the summer opera program Oberlin in Italy.

Known for his “beautiful musicality and a special communicative ability” (Fay Adams, University of Tennessee, Knoxville), and his “mastery of varying colors” (Jenny Anderson, music minister at the United Church of Chapel Hill), James frequently performs as a solo and collaborative pianist. He has worked in master class with Broadway conductor and composer David Friedman, flutist Wissam Boustany, and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. He has also performed with UNC professors Brent Wissick, Sam Gold and Leah Peroutka. 

As a young person, James’s Suzuki lessons at the Cadek Conservatory with Dr. Anne Fouquet were fundamental to his deepening love of the instrument. One of his goals is to help others find their own positive experience playing music. As a music educator, James is certified in Suzuki books one through three, and is also certified to teach vocal and general music K-12. Over the past few years at Chapel Hill School of Musical Arts, and as a teacher at the Joy of Music School in Knoxville, he garnered valuable teaching experience with all ages and levels, and believes that music is an important aspect of any person’s education.

Firm in his belief in a positive and honest teaching style, James encourages his students towards well-rounded musicianship—aural and visual skills, music theory and history, and an exposure to multiple styles and periods are essential to his teaching philosophy. Recognizing that each student has his or her own goals and talents, he therefore feels that individualized education should meet students where they are to propel them toward meeting their goals, whichever direction that might take them. James’s experience with jazz and church music helps ensure that all his students are able to pursue a wide variety of musical styles.

James believes that a positive performance base is essential to each student’s development and believes in ensuring that students are confident and ready, by taking students through all aspects of musical performance. Most importantly of all, he believes that “every child can,” that education should be an uplifting experience, and that music instruction is more than the conditioning of fine motor responses–it is a preparation for life.

James has been an active freelance pianist in the Triangle and Triad regions of North Carolina, and in Knoxville, TN. He is an experienced church musician, vocal coach, and instrumental accompanist. He is also active in musical theater, church and school performances, as well as university studio lessons and studio recitals. James teaches in-home lessons in Chapel Hill and at the Triangle Music School in Durham. He lives in Carrboro with his wife and daughter. 

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