5. Compositions and Manuals on Piano Technique

From June 1926 James published series of musical compositions and manuals on piano playing which were well reviewed.  Three pieces: A Romp, Winter and It’s a wild day were published by Curwen and sold for 1/- were ‘heartily recommended’ by the Music Teacher magazine in May 1926.  The Rotary Road, a book helping students with piano technique, was recommended by the Musical News and Herald also in May 1926.  This was followed by Forearm Rotation, published by Forsyth, described as being ‘in response to innumerable requests’ in Music and Youth publication September 1926.

In October 1926 the magazine Musical Opinion praises a new set of pieces called ‘Over the Hills’ published by Forsyth, saying ‘We like ‘Over the Hills’ for its serviceability as well as for its charm and variety.  The composer richly deserves a place among the recognised educational composers of the present time.’  By December that year he had also composed a set of Four Monographs for the more advanced students, which he performed at a concert in Leicester on 11th of that month.

In addition to The Rotary Road, which had gone into four editions, James compiled a further set of simple ideas and exercises for the principles of Rotary Movement entitled ‘Forearm Rotation’ published by (Forsyth).  These books sold well and Forsyth went on to publish a series of James Ching compositions, namely Apple Blossom, Over the Hills and Through the Ages.  These are listed, together with the two books of exercises, in a full page advertisement with the heading Under the Banner of Forsyth. It shows a cartoon of the pianist at the keyboard.

Four Monographs composed by James Ching was performed at a concert in Leicester in December 1927.  The review of the concert was printed in the Leicester Mercury on 22nd of that month under the title of Music by Leicester Composers. The review states ‘Mr James Ching has gained very rapidly of late in his mastery of composition.  It is possible to object to passages in the ‘Four Monographs’ on the ground that the piano specialist, rather than the musician, is uppermost in their make-up, but it cannot be denied that most of them ‘come off’.  These pieces present with an eloquent variety of pianistic device some musical ideas of real value, and are Mr Ching’s best so far.’  (These are compositions for the advanced student unlike most of his previous compositions.)  The Leicester Mail critic wrote ‘His Monograms had all the elfin joyousness for which his Bach playing is known.  His compositions had all the arithmetical outlines of Bach, clothed in modern idiom, and vitalised with the youthful happiness of the pianist’.