Child prodigy becomes the youngest person in the WORLD to get a university degree in music

April 27, 2015 | by | 0 Comments

Child prodigy Curtis Elton has become the youngest person in the world to get a degree in music – at the age of 11.

Curtis Elton at the piano (© James Linsell-Clark /

Curtis Elton at the piano (© James Linsell-Clark /

The junior marvel started learning the piano at the age of three and could read music by the time he was four.

Curtis – dubbed Mini Mozart – was the youngest person in the world to pass a piano exam equivalent to the first year of university when he was nine.

And two years on he has completed the course and been awarded an LTCL diploma from elite Trinity College, London.

The qualification – a Licentiate of Trinity College London – is equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree.

Curtis practiced for more than two hours a day to perfect a challenging 37 minute programme – mostly from memory – for the examiners.

He played Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E flat, Mozart’s Sonata in F, two Etudes by Chopin and April by John Ireland.

The chief examiner said Curtis performed the Mozart with “much virtuosity” and said his fingers moved “nimbly and easily” in one of the Chopin pieces.

Curtis, who has appeared on Channel 4’s Child Genius programme, also had to write a 1,000-word programme about the pieces and histories of the composers.

Proud mum Hayley, 41, – herself a concert pianist – said she trained Curtis for the exam like a marathon runner by feeding him plates of pasta to give him energy.

Curtis, who is home-schooled and practises on his own white Yamaha grand piano, said: “I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the exam but when I started playing I wasn’t nervous anymore.

“I practice for about two hours a day but before the exam I probably did more than that to perfect the pieces.”

Curtis says he wants to be as successful as pianists Liberace, Lang Lang and Elton John – but also admires Manchester United heroes Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

He said: “I used to listen to my mother playing when I was younger and I really enjoyed it.

“The piano is a really musical instrument and it is nice to play. My favourite composer is probably Chopin.”

Curtis Elton child prodigy

(© James Linsell-Clark /

Curtis lives in Barnet, London, with his mum, dad Jonathan, 45, a graphic designer and  younger sister Sophia, 10.

The first song he learned to play in full was Yankee Doodle, followed by the Pink Panther theme and then Beethoven’s Ode To Joy.

He took his Grade 1 exam with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music at the age of four.

He rapidly progressed through the grades and got his Grade 8 – the highest – when he was only eight.

When he grows up, Curtis says he would like to be a concert pianist and play at the Albert Hall, or possibly become a doctor – or even a Prime Minister.

Curtis, who only stands at 4ft 7ins but will now have LTCL after his name, added: “Hopefully one day I will play in America. I would like to play all over the world.

“I would like to play at the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Royal Opera House.

“Last year I played in concert in front of 2,000 people Valencia, Spain. I had my own police because there was a huge queue of people and I was signing autographs for an hour.”

Mum Hayley is a professional concert pianist and at the age of eight she was the youngest pupil accepted to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

She said: “It is an incredible achievement for Curtis. It was hard work, but it was worth it.

“It was like training for a marathon. I was feeding him pasta for energy and making sure he had regular drinks.

“We practiced the programme in sections and then did a few runs of the whole 37 minutes in the weeks before the exam.

Curtis didn’t practice the night before the exam so he would be fresh for the morning.

“It was a very demanding programme and it was very technical. Some piece were very fast.

“He loves performing in front of people so that wasn’t a problem.”

She added: “I wanted to get his music exams out of the way before his GCSEs so they didn’t interfere.

“But it never occurred to me how quickly he would absorb all the information.

“Even if children start an instrument young, they might not want to continue. But Curtis loves playing the piano and he is very keen to learn.”

Curtis took his LTCL exam last November and received the result in March.

He was invited onto ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2011 and in 2014.

But despite getting three out of three yes votes from judges during the auditions both times he failed to make the final selection.

Mum Hayley slammed Simon Cowell and accused him of inviting the youngster on the show only to let him down.

Last summer Curtis entered Channel 4 programme Child Genius – a competition to find the nation’s cleverest child – but left after the second episode.

Trinity College London said: “Trinity is proud to support young musicians as they progress and set out on a lifetime of musical appreciation and achievement.”

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