Royal Military School of Music

The Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) trains musicians for the British Army's twenty-two bands, as part of the Corps of Army Music. The RMSM is based at Kneller Hall, in Twickenham, west London, but the Ministry of Defence has recently indicated that the site will be sold, with the School moving elsewhere.

Royal Military School of Music
Active1857 – present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
RoleTeaching music


The RMSM was established in 1857[1] at the instigation of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, who was Queen Victoria's cousin and the commander-in-chief of the army. In 1854, during the Crimean War, he had attended a parade in Scutari, in Turkey, to celebrate the Queen's birthday. The approximately twenty British Army bands on parade were required to combine in a performance of the national anthem. The custom, at this time, was for regiments to hire civilian bandmasters for their bands, each of whom had free rein in both the instrumentation of the band and the arrangements it played. With each band playing God Save the Queen simultaneously in different instrumentations, pitch, arrangement, and key signatures, the result was an embarrassing and humiliating cacophony.[2] The Duke decided that there should be some standardisation in army music and so formed the RMSM, with Henry Schallehn (who also became the first director of music at the Crystal Palace) as commandant. For several years, in the late 19th century, the commandant was Colonel T. B. Shaw-Hellier, owner of the Hellier Stradivarius.[3]

Present day

The RMSM has spent a century and a half at Kneller Hall, which was the country house of the court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller and was rebuilt after a fire in 1848.

The school is open to men and women, and the commitment to the army is for a minimum of four years. The Corps of Army Music is the largest employer of musicians in the United Kingdom, and it promotes itself to potential recruits as an opportunity to earn a salary as a musician, something which can be hard to do. The music taught and performed is not restricted to martial music, but also includes jazz, swing, middle-of-the-road, popular, baroque, mainstream symphonic and operatic music.

Museum of Army Music

The Museum of Army Music at Kneller Hall features a collection of musical instruments, music, banners, medals, model bands, documents, prints, manuscripts, paintings and uniforms showing the history of military music. It is open to the public Wednesday afternoons and by appointment.[4][5]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. Twickenham Museum: Kneller Hall
  2. Royal Military School of Music former website
  3. "Band Gossip for Far and Near". Star. 2 April 1898. p. 6. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  4. Army Museums: Royal Military School of Music Museum Archived 13 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Official site". Friends of Kneller Hall Museum. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2015.

Further reading

  • Turner, Gordon & Alwyn W. Turner, (1996) The Trumpets will Sound: The Story of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall. Tunbridge Wells: Parapress ISBN 1-898594-38-4

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