Elton John started playing the piano at the age of three, and within a year, his mother heard him picking out Winifred Atwell's “The Skater's Waltz” by ear. After performing at parties and family gatherings, at the age of seven he took up formal piano lessons. He showed musical aptitude at school, including the ability to compose melodies. At the age of 11, he won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. According to one of his instructors, John promptly played back, like a 'gramophone record', a four-page piece by Handel that he heard for the first time.