Kay Chappell grew up in Penzance, Cornwall where she enjoyed playing the violin with various orchestras and ensembles. She joined the National Youth Orchestra when she was thirteen and went to Chetham's School of Music from the age of fifteen. Kay went on to take undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the Guildhall School of Music, where she studied with Detlef Hahn.
On leaving college, she had trials with various orchestras and accepted a first violin position with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, where she stayed for three years.
Kay then moved back to London in 2000 when she became a member of the First Violin section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She has enjoyed the variety of work since then, alongside raising her daughter, who has just finished taking her A-level exams.