Meet our Program Director, Mr. James Riley, MM, MT-BC!
James was born and raised in Key West, Florida, where he taught piano and guitar to underprivileged children through the Bahama Village Music Program. He earned his bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Music (MM) in music therapy from the Florida State University, where he met his wonderful wife, Katy. James worked in many medical and mental health settings before accepting a full-time teaching position at FSU. Several years later, Katy and James moved to St. Pete and fell in love with the local community and the whole Tampa Bay area. James is the founder, program director, and internship supervisor of MTSP.
What instruments do you play?
I love classical piano and classical guitar, though electric guitar is a lot of fun, too. My parents started me with piano when I was pretty young. I loved the instrument even then, but when I got to middle school, I became much more interested in learning guitar and drums to play in bands with my friends. I wrote some songs and tried singing them, but didn’t feel comfortable with my voice until I got more experience singing throughout college. In middle and high school, I choose percussion, especially timpani, marimba, vibraphone, snare, and drum set. As a music therapist, I’ve picked up ukulele, and would love to make enough time to learn flute and violin someday.
What is your favorite music?
Always the toughest question to answer; I love it all! I love Beethoven and Chopin as much as Ray Charles and Radiohead. I primarily listen to classical, jazz, blues, soul, rock, indie, and world.
Tell us a little about your interests and hobbies.
As mentioned, I do really enjoy studying piano and guitar outside of all the repertoire developed for music therapy practice, and still write a few of my own songs, too. I love spending time with my wife, family, and friends. I enjoy being out in nature. I love reading, drinking coffee, good food, traveling, biking, baking, and being immersed in whatever project I’m currently interested in.
Do you have a favorite place to think?
Hmm… I’ll have to think about it. The first place that comes to mind is the Pinellas Trail. I also like the shift in thought patterns as you’re flying on an airplane or visiting somewhere you’ve never been before. I like getting lost in thought in the middle of a good book, video, lecture, sermon, conversation, or whatever else inspires me.
Where do you want to travel?
Everywhere. I dream of the Galápagos and Singapore, to name just a couple, but then, Italy and France are definitely first up on my list, and throw in Spain and Portugal, and all of Europe! I’ve never been anywhere in Africa, East Asia, Australia, or South America, and I want to go!
Name three of your bucket list items.
Music Therapy St. Pete itself is a bucket list item that I’m already so proud of, but there’s always so much room for improvement and growth; there’s so much more I want this team and this organization to become. I am also looking forward to creating a family and raising some wonderful children. I want to teach at the university level again, though I’m not sure I could leave my home and my family to take up a full-time position. And I know that’s three, but I also want to have a grand piano someday, go skydiving with my sisters when we’re in our fifties, and a million more bucket list things!