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Feature: King Charles’ Remarkable Musical Abilities Revealed as he Showcases Proficiency in Playing Three Musical Instruments

3 min read

It has long been known that King Charles has a great love for Classical music. In an interview with Classic FM, he once detailed how his grandmother, the Queen Mother introduced him to ballet and music at a young age.

For many years, the King has been a patron of the arts. He supports the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and the Royal College of Music.

Last month, he spoke about his experiences as a child learning to play not just one, but three musical instruments.

What three instruments does the King play?

In his younger years, King Charles was particularly fond of the cello. It was one of three instruments he was taught to play.

  • Cello

His Majesty opened up about his love of cello as a university student saying “I loved playing in the orchestra at Trinity – albeit rather badly. I remember playing in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and trying to practise in my room at Cambridge to an old record conducted by Herbert von Karajan

The cello is known for its mellow, resonant tones. It usually takes around 2-5 years to master this instrument. Buying one can cost anywhere from £200 to £13,000 so it’s a great idea to get it covered by cello insurance.

  • Piano

Another instrument that King Charles learned to play at school was the piano. When Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge demonstrated her piano skills in a cameo appearance for the 2023 Eurovision Grand Final, she was playing King Charles’ Steinway piano.

The piano is one of the world’s most popular instruments, yet there is some confusion as to how to categorise it! If you dive inside the inner workings of a piano, you will see that it works by way of string vibrations. But because the player uses small hammers rather than string directly, it is also a percussion instrument!

  • Trumpet

The King also learned the trumpet as a youngster. His first public performance took place at the age of 15 when he participated in an 80-piece orchestra at St Giles’ Cathedral as part of his school in Gordonstoun, Scotland.

The trumpet has three valves and while the fingerwork is not overly complex, mastering the correct mouth shape can be trickier. It’s a fun instrument to learn if you can dedicate the hours to it, being the brass instrument that has the highest pitch in classical music!

Though the King regretted that his cello practice inevitably tailed off when he joined the Navy, music has always been one of his great passions. For his wife the Queen Consort’s 60th birthday, he even conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra.

Speaking on Radio 3, he told Michael Berkeley ‘I’m one of those people who believes in the importance of arts education and music education in schools. Apart from anything else, I think people forget – or may not realise – what an enormous contribution the creative arts make to the whole economy. It’s immense.“

Music is a vital part of life and just as the King found out, the childhood years are where it all starts!