As an internationally recognized pedagogue, Simon James has attracted worldwide attention as one of the foremost teachers of violin in the United States. In his long performing career, James has been a member of several prestigious orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Orchestra. As concertmaster of the Northwest Sinfonia, he can be heard on hundreds of motion picture, TV, and video game soundtracks and has performed live with Pearl Jam, Elton John, Billy Joel, A R Rahman and many others. He has recorded concerti with the Seattle Symphony and the Slovak Radio Symphony with whom he premiered Richard Englefield’s Violin Concerto.
James students have won many of the world’s top prizes, including the International Menuhin Junior Competition, Stradivarius International Competition, Stulberg International String Competition, Vancouver International Music Competition, MTNA National Competition, and were laureates at the Spohr, Johansen, Il Piccolo Violino Magico, and Postacchini Competitions. They have been featured numerous times on NPR’s From the Top. In addition to appearing with all the Pacific Northwest’s leading orchestras, his students have performed with the Detroit, Richmond, Utah, and Seattle symphonies, the London Philharmonia, and on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series. They have participated at the Aspen Music Festival, Morningside Music Bridge, Meadowmount, Starling/Delay Violin Symposium, New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Kronberg Academy Festivals. Students from his studio have recently won positions in the New York Philharmonic, St Louis Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra.
Faculty member Simon James, who has trained many prizewinning musicians, explains how to prepare for a competition in just one minute.
- Applied Lessons
- Violin Performance
What is your hometown?
What is your favorite recording?
Strauss “Four Last Songs” Dame Kiri Takanawa, LSO
What are you passionate about outside of music?
My family, fine instruments, my new C8 Corvette
Who were your major teachers?
Erick Friedman and Szymon Goldberg
What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?
Too many to mention! At the end of last academic year my students presented me with a framed poster of all my many quotable quotes! “Wonderful, fabulous,….do it again.”., “Perfect intervals are non-negotiable”, “It can’t be beautiful until it is accurate”, “Take the bow to the violin, not the violin to the bow”, “Be an artist NOW”……etc,etc
What was a turning point in your career?
Falling in love with Opera. Joining the Melbourne Youth Orchestra as a kid, and more recently the Australian World Orchestra.
If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?
If I wasn’t a musician or teacher, what would I do? I have no idea! I am doing exactly what I want to do….. feeling extremely lucky!
What is your daily practice routine?
My practice regimen: First hour is the most important part of my practice. Shifting etudes, double stop scales, arpeggios, vibrato acceleration, bow stroke practice with strokes that connect, stop and leave the string. The rest of my time depends on repertoire that I need to prepare.
If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?
Brahms, Mahler, Strauss
From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?
Year/City Cremona Italy 1715. Stradivari’s most celebrated year for producing his “Golden Period” violins….he was in his 70’s at this career peak!
What are your most important collaborations?
Jan Coleman and Hiro David were responsible for getting my teaching career started and remain 2 of the finest musicians that I know. The Australian World Orchestra….Australian ex-pats that play in Principal positions in every great orchestra in the world get together to make music at the very highest level.
What is your unrealized project?
My unrealized project: can’t think of any. I’m doing exactly what I enjoy most…..teaching the violin, and enjoying the success of my students . Project continues!