James Wilson, youngest of 4, was a child pianist prodigy. Starting his musical journey in Japan at the age of three taking piano lessons like his siblings. At the age of five he was entered in his first youth piano competition where he placed higher than his older siblings. Sending his oldest sibling (his older sister, Chiaki) to a piano camp in Utah she met a man named, Dr. Gary Amano. Dr. Amano, studied piano at New York’s Julliard (yes, like THE Julliard), and has a master’s degree in piano performance. After hearing about Dr. Amano, James’ parents decided to contact him for a lesson for James. Amano was very impressed with James, but said that James technique was not great. James’ normal piano teacher had been teaching him bad technique, making him very tense during his pieces and in his playing.  

After James turned nine, and after much careful deliberation from his parents, they decided to move the whole family to Laramie, Wyoming. His Parents reached out to U.W’s Dr. Theresa Bogard (internationally acclaimed Pianist, and Carnegie Foundation’s 2008 Wyoming professor of the year). Dr. Bogard, had never taught anyone James’s age, and knowing she was a pedagogue (A very strict, pedantic teacher) James was up for the challenge! He told PBS that he loved learning from Dr. Bogard, that she made learning fun, but didn’t let him get away with anything. Learning from Dr. Theresa, and doing more competitions, his parents signed him up for the Asian American Music Society competition at Washington D.C where he took 1st place and debuted at the winner’s concert at the Kennedy Center (also in D.C). Three years later he debuted in a winner’s concert at Carnegie Hall. After playing Carnegie Hall a second time, and an international competition in Paris, James was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma Cancer.  

AkronChildrens Via Youtube
AkronChildrens Via Youtube

James was allowed a normal life, he played baseball, went to a normal school, and had friends his own age. Mid-July of 2014 James began to have sudden and severe pain in his lower abdomen, so he took some pain relievers to make it through his 6 am All-Stars Baseball practice. James was prepping for a piano competition that was to take place after a baseball tournament.  

After his baseball practice the pain did not let up, so James was taken to a hospital to find the source of his pain. After surgery James was found to have a golf-ball sized tumor which was cancerous. He was put into Chemo therapy at Akron Children’s Hospital, and after a year James is Cancer free! 

James graduated Highschool in 2019 from Hudson High school, Ohio. He currently resides in Midvale, Utah, he still plays piano, and remains cancer free!


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