In today’s podcast you’ll hear my interview with James Daly: Pianist, Composer, Teacher, Business Owner. He’s created the San Ramon Academy of Music and the Powerful Piano brand. James is so charming and passionate, and you can just feel his love for the music he makes and the students he teaches. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles to get where he is now, owning a successful teaching business and continuing to perform, compose, and create content with energy and love. I hope you enjoy this conversation!
Let’s just say it: Classical music is elitist. The people on our orchestra stages tend to look a certain way, the composers who get played tend to be demographically similar, and our diversity/equity/inclusion efforts often get a surprising amount of internal and external pushback. As a white woman, It makes me really uncomfortable to talk about these issues, but these are conversations that need to be had.
The bio my guest James Daly shared with me addresses this head-on, and starts: James is not what people think of when they picture a ‘classical pianist’. Being an African American man with full sleeve tattoos and a visible athletic background he is mistaken for a personal trainer more than anything else. But definitely never an artist. How can a meathead be a Chopin aficionado??
James has been a lifelong musician, but his circumstances and background put him in a position similar to many other youths. Before turning 17 he was a high school dropout, working full time, and living on his own. Yet, it was a dedication to music that inspired him to pursue higher education to fulfill his potential. Despite the odds, he achieved a full scholarship to UC Berkeley where he specialized in piano performance and composition. From there he graduated with honors in 2012 and has been teaching the last decade. His unique approach to instruction gained him such success he opened San Ramon Academy of Music in 2018, focusing on online music education and group classes. He started the Powerful Piano brand in 2021 to grow his educational platform and provide access to music education to anyone, not just those who can afford private instruction.
I loved this conversation with James. He’s so charming and passionate that it’s obvious why he’s been successful – and at the same time it’s inspiring that he’s overcome so many obstacles and is now trying to clear the way for others to do the same.
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I’m your host, Jennet Ingle. I love you all. Stay safe out there!