In 1880 the Croydon music teacher Joseph Beck meets 5 year old Coleridge-Taylor and starts to give him violin lessons. Samuel Coleridge took a keen interest in music and at the age of 15 applied to enter the Royal College of Music. Sir George Grove, the principal of the Royal College of Music, originally said no as he feared other students might complain about having to study with a black man. He would later decide against it admitting Coleridge-Taylor to the Royal College of Music.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor switches from violin as his first subject to composition under Charles Villiers Stanford. While studying with Stanford, Coleridge-Taylor competed for one of the nine open scholarships at the college and was awarded the fellowship in composition in 1893.
Coleridge would be taught by Sir Frederick Bridge, Hubert Parry, Walter Parratt and Charles Wood. In 1896 Coleridge-Taylor publishes his first piece, Te Deum. Some of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's greatest works date from these early years. Coleridge-Taylor receives the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival commission; (Ballade in A minor). The success of the piece was repeated at its London premiere at the Crystal Palace on November 4th.