John Kember - Biography

John Kember

John Kember

John studied at Trinity College of Music, London and has enjoyed a varied career in both performing and academic spheres, ranging from teaching in schools and privately, to working as composer, arranger, pianist and conductor in Concert Halls, theatres and recording studios.

Currently John is working on a number of new and exciting projects for both publication and performance. He has a busy private teaching practice in S.E. London and teaches for Kent Music Academy in Maidstone. He was an examiner for the Associated Board for over 16 years from 1989 to 2005.

John's works may be ordered online from this website as well as from good music shops and the relevant publishers.

If you experience difficulty in locating any of these works, or would like to contact John for more information, please email John@johnkember.com

What they say

“beautifully crafted arrangements of jazz and pop standards ... a gift to anyone who wants to entertain” “John Kember has produced some more beautifully crafted arrangements of jazz and pop standards ... a gift to anyone who wants to entertain, either alone or with others. ... Each is then turned into a characterful piano piece, with plenty of rhythmic variation and syncopation, and some fine examples of bass and inner-part melodies.”
Nancy Litten, 'Piano Professional', Summer 2011

“arrangements true to the originals and compositions beautiful, stylish and delightfully pianistic” “I always send up a quick cheer when I see anything by John Kember, as his arrangements are true to the originals and his compositions beautiful, stylish and delightfully pianistic.”
Fiona Lau, 'Music Teacher', March 2010

“Presented with style, care and panache” “Presented with style, care and panache ... ideal for ensemble work, in school or teaching studio ... an arrangement with real pianistic flair for performace and private indulgance.”
John York, 'Piano' Dec 2009/ Jan 2010

“I love these books. They eclipse any others I have examined because they work. Nothing thin or weak, nothing merely derivative” “two fabulous volumes ... The reason these work so well where others often fall short of expectation is the sheer quality of the arrangements by John Kember. ... I love these books. They eclipse any others I have examined because they work. Nothing thin or weak, nothing merely derivative”
John York, 'Piano' Spring 2009

“practical and original gems that could easily be prepared as part of a concert” “The solos with piano accompaniment that are included at the end of each chapter are practical and original gems that could easily be prepared as part of a concert program. ... This text would be of particular interest to adult players who wish to brush up on their sight-reading skills, and is an excellent resource for teachers who would like to reinforce the reading ability of their students and are looking for a clear and systematic method to accomplish this task.”
Brenda Brenner, 'Strings, October 2007 (USA)

“John Kember is truly one of our finest composers who incorporates the interests of the student as well as the pedagogical needs of the teacher in his works.” “John Kember is truly one of our finest composers who incorporates the interests of the student as well as the pedagogical needs of the teacher in his works.”
Julia Amada Kruger, Vice-President of the American College of Musicians

“Here is a composer and teacher who understands the jazz piano idiom and how to train it positively, thoroughly and progressively” “Here is a composer and teacher who understands the jazz piano idiom and how to train it positively, thoroughly and progressively, starting at about the grade 3 level. His music always feels and sounds great and the 'Plus One' volume also encourages ensemble work, improvisation and a wider experience for the pupil. All styles are covered within the books, big band, gospel, ballad, blues etc and, again, presentation is brilliant.”
John York in 'Piano', July/August 2005

“A brilliant and original collection” “A brilliant and original collection which covers all standard jazz techniques and idioms-swing rhythm, anticipation, syncopation, walking bass-line in blues, rag, jazz waltz and dreamy reflective styles.”
'Piano Journal' (EPTA)

Collections from John Kember

American Song Book (Self)
All-new arrangements of the classic hits of the 20th century by John Kember
Easy Jazz Pieces (Music Sales)
Short pieces to make this popular genre available to relative beginners, and for those at primary and intermediate levels.
Easy Piano Duets (Schott)
Designed to be played by teacher and pupil, or by two players of equal ability.
Jazz masterclasses (Schott)
John has worked with Jiggs Whigham, internationally acclaimed trombone virtuoso, to produce this fine in-depth guide for aspiring jazz trombonists.
Jazz Piano Studies (Faber)
John Kember's love of jazz and latin styles is well illustrated by the volumes in this collection, which includes material for everyone from the beginner up to more advanced players with a wealth of pieces to help develop a true jazz style.
Keyboards (Schott)
The Keyboards series provides simple but interesting arrangements of well-known pieces.
On the Lighter Side (Schott)
Although the pieces in this collection are on the lighter side, they are by no means trivial and offer pianists of all levels something interesting and challenging. The series contains both piano solo and piano duet volumes, some with CD recordings of the pieces.
Original Jazz Ballads (Music Sales)
Pieces for the solo player that evoke the atmosphere and styles of popular songs from the periods when melody, lyrics and harmonies reached their peak.
Play Ballads (Faber)
'The joy of ballad playing is indulgence pure and simple: performing the smoothest and most expressive of melodies'. The melodies are similar in style and are attractive, providing opportunities for developing tonal quality, phrasing and legato playing. Play Ballads offers the Grade 4-6 (intermediate) instrumentalist the inspirations of some of the greatest exponents of the form.
Play Broadway (Faber)
Each volume in the Play Broadway series features 10 of the best shows from across the decades. Available for six seperate instruments, each volume includes a CD with backing tracks and piano accompaniments.
Sight Reading (Schott)
Sight-reading is a vital accomplishment for any musician. This series provides a new approach and includes introductory introductory and more advanced volumes for instrumentalists (the Sight-Reading volumes) and vocalists (the Sight-Singing volumes).
Starting Out (Schott)
Short, tuneful pieces to help new players of all ages gradually widen their range of notes and rhythmic patterns. Although these pieces are broadly progressnve in range of notes and rhythmic figures used, they are intended as a source of material from which the teacher can select to suit the needs of individual pupils rather than needing to work from cover to cover.
String Quartet Arrangements (Schott)
John Kember provides in this series a variety of pieces from classical, romantic, baroque and modern periods in score and parts for the string quartet.
The Ensemble Collection (Schott)
These original compositions, presented in a variety of styles, offer each player an equal share of the melodic interest and are aimed at students of similar playing experience and standards. The minimum teacher assistance should be required.
The Jazz Piano Player (Faber)
The books in this series are based on well-known songs from the Great American Songbook by great American songwriters such as Cole Porter, George Gerwin and Harold Arlen. The purpose of these books is to help pianists to understand chords, chord symbols and voicings. Each song is shown in two forms - firstly with melody, words, chord symbols and notation; and secondly an intermediate standard solo arrangement.
The Pop Piano Player (Faber)
Designed for pianist wanting to make the transition into playing pop piano, as well as those keen to develop their own style.
The Simply Series (Self)
The books in this series each take a genre of music: Latin, Jazz, Swing and provide a series of original pieces by John Kember that fir perfectly into any repertoire.