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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Elton's 1m gift to music academy
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton was a child musical prodigy
Singer Sir Elton John has raised 1m to fund scholarships in aid of students at the Royal Academy of Music.

Sir Elton won a scholarship to the academy himself more than 30 years ago, at the age of 11, and had lessons there for six years.

He has now established an endowment fund with the aim of helping youngsters from poorer backgrounds achieve success in the music world.

He told the Times newspaper he was "repaying a debt" to the organisation.

To help raise the money, Sir Elton staged a concert at the Royal Opera House.

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton has sold more than 200 million records
On Wednesday the first four students received their scholarships, which will range from 1,000 to 10,000.

Academy spokesman Peter Craik hailed Sir Elton's scheme as "exciting and fantastic".

"It is not just a matter of funding for Elton," he said.

"He also wants to take a personal interest in the students as individuals. Elton wants to follow their progress and give them advice all the way."

Born Reginald Dwight in Pinner, north west London, Sir Elton won a talented young musician scholarship in the late 1950s.

His professional career began in 1965 as a pianist and singer with the band Bluesology.

He went on to become one of the most successful - and richest - pop entertainers of all time, selling more than 200 million records worldwide.

He is currently embarking on a series of sell-out shows at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.

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