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James Rhodes: If I ruled the world

James Rhodes: If I ruled the world

James Rhodes is an applauded concert pianist who performs all over the world. His memoir Instrumental was an international best-seller. Here are the rules he'd make if he ran the world. 

Music education would be a priority

I’d make our government accountable to the promise they made in 2011 to give every child, whatever their background, the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and for teachers to have the budget and training to embed it into the curriculum.

That hasn’t happened and it’s terribly sad because we know the benefits are astonishing: better academic results, greater focus in class and improved discipline throughout the school.

I’ve seen kids, who previously couldn’t be in the same room, rehearsing together as a team and helping each other tune their instruments. 


Everyone would spend 45 minutes a day being creative

The world we live in nowadays is manic and external, and it’s too much. We need to stop and find calm so anything that allows us to go inside ourselves is a wonderful thing.

In How to Play the Piano, I show it’s perfectly feasible to play a piece by Bach in six weeks if you put 45 minutes a day aside to do so. Finding the time is hard, but focusing completely on something is where creativity starts.


We wouldn’t abandon our dreams

Although I knew I wanted to be a pianist from a young age, I stopped for ten years and worked in a high-paying city job. It made me very unhappy.

I went back to the piano and, although it took a lot of energy and time to get to where I am now, I’ve never looked back. We get bogged down with responsibilities but, if we’re persistent, we can reawaken our childish optimism.

What are you passionate about? Everyone I most admire, alive or dead, has been single-minded in their relentless pursuit of whatever it is they love.


I’d end the segregation of musical genres

 I’d never dream of saying to a ten-year-old girl that Beethoven is more worthy than Jessie J; it’s all just music.

The biggest problem with classical music is that certain people like to keep it in a weird gilded cage, as though they don’t want to share it with the wrong types. That breaks my heart.

Radio stations should play all different genres of music; the more we get everyone listening, the better.


I’d make it illegal to walk down the street glued to a mobile phone

Or use a phone while having a face-to-face conversation with someone else.

If you go out for a meal with friends you should all put your phones on the table. The first person who touches their phone, for whatever reason, pays for the meal.


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