He passed his Grade 8, then?
Actually, no. Despite starting early, James Rhodes never progressed past his Grade 3 exam. But that hasn’t stopped him – he’s now one of the most recognisable classical pianists in the world and an educational campaign he’s set up is doing pretty well.
It’s making a lot of noise?
The 39-year-old's instrument amnesty, Don’t Stop The Music, has now collected more than 6,000 donated instruments, which will be passed on to primary schools throughout the UK so children can learn to play them.
Any help from his friends?
Fellow stars such as Labrinth, who donated a guitar, and Laura Marling, who handed over a dulcimer, have helped – while figures such as Sir Paul McCartney have given their support.
It struck the right note.
Indeed. He’s now calling on the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, to deliver the Government’s pledge to give every child in the country the opportunity to learn an instrument.
Music is his first love?
The pianist says music saved his life. When he was starting out professionally, he ended up in hospital because of mental illness. It’s not just about health, though. Quite simply, he feels a music education “is a right, not a privilege”.
Since his shaky start, Rhodes has sold out the Royal Albert Hall, has a host of celebrity fans, and is a well-known culture blogger for major newspapers. He’s also the first classic pianist to be signed to Warner Bros. Records.