James Scott Skinner (5 August 1843 – 17 March 1927) was a Scottish dancing master, violinist, fiddler, and composer.
Skinner was born the youngest of six children in Arbeadie village which later became part of Banchory, near Aberdeen. His father William Skinner was a dancing master on Deeside. His mother Mary Skinner (nee Agnew) was originally from Strathdon. James was only eighteen months old when his father died. When he was seven, his elder brother, Alexander Forbes Skinner, gave him lessons in violin and cello. Soon the pair of them were playing at local dances. In 1852 his mother remarried and he moved to Aberdeen where he lived with his sister Annie, attending Connell's School in Princes Street, Aberdeen.
Three years later he left to joined Dr Mark's Little Men, a travelling orchestra. This involved spending six years intensive training at their headquarters in Manchester. It also involved touring round the UK. The orchestra gave a command performance before Queen Victoria at Buckingham on 10 February 1858. Skinner attributed his own later success to meeting Charles Rougier in Manchester, who taught him to play Beethoven and other classical masters. Finally he took a year's dancing tuition from William Scott. Skinner could now earn his living as a dancing master for the district around Aberdeen.