12. 1936 – 1939   The Brighton School of Music

During this period James was initially busy writing and compiling his book and at the same time taking private piano lessons and teaching part time at the Incorporated London Academy of Music in Harrington Road SW7. In 1936 he was appointed Director of the Brighton School of Music whose past pupils had included Frank Bridge and Evelyn Laye.  The school had begun in 1883 and was immediately successful and popular with music students.  The facilities included two choirs, an orchestra, chamber music, and at least two public concerts a year. James was able to divide his time between his work for the school and his teaching and performing commitments in London.  He was also developing a series of evening or Saturday afternoon lectures to teachers on his technical methods as well as offering consultation lessons for teachers who brought their pupils with them.  He was also acquiring a group of professionally qualified pupils and some exceptional younger ones helping to advance their playing and performance techniques and arranging regular student concerts for them. At the same time he continued his own regular solo recitals, mainly in London, playing Bach for which he was now considered the principal exponent, particularly after his broadcasts.

The Leicester Daily Mercury reports both a broadcast and a concert in May 1938 noting his broadcast on 29th September that year and an evening recital the same day at the Wigmore Hall, which was favourably reviewed on the 2nd October by the Sunday Times.  On May 21st 1939 there is a review in the Sunday Times of a recital in the Wigmore Hall where James played two and three part Bach Inventions. ‘In rhythm, independence of the hands, climaxes gradually built, one recognised influences steeped in music, and music of a particular period.  Of the fact that a modern piano was in use we were scarcely conscious.’ There is also a report in the Western Morning News dated 4th March 1939 featuring a Bach Concert given by James in the Wigmore Hall.

As well as his regular recitals James was also in demand as an adjudicator at Music Festivals around the country.


Postal Study Courses and other Musical Activities during the 1930s

At some point during the 1930s James set up a small business offering postal help to teachers and students studying for LRAM, ARCM and other professional qualifications. This was popular and developed into the James Ching Professional Service which is still running today. He was very aware that being a freelance musician did not bring in a steady income and would not provide for a pension in later life. An advertisement for this postal service exists from that period offering a complimentary brochure to teachers with the words ‘If you would welcome a simpler method of teaching piano technique to children – you need this brochure’.   A smart printed brochure with the title James Ching Correspondence Courses was sent out to potential customers with a photograph of James at the piano.  Recently a contemporary copy of this brochure came to light in its original envelope, bearing a one and a half penny stamp (George V) and with the postmark dated 1935. The introduction was written by H.S Gordon who was the editor of Musical News and Herald at the time when James began his London recitals in 1926/7.  He had been told of the ‘arrival of a great pianist’ and had followed his musical career with great interest and admiration.  In addition to the correspondence courses, James wrote and published a number of instruction booklets which could be sent out to customers.  One example is a booklet on Musical Examinations and Festivals.  Later in the 1950s he developed a recording system which allowed him to send out recordings of Grade Examination pieces.  As well as directing the postal study courses James also acted as an adjudicator at Music Festivals and contributed articles to various musical publications.