• In the Spotlight… Howarth of London

    Howarth of London... In the Spotlight | Interview

    We’re delighted to introduce our latest interview series ‘In the Spotlight’ with Take it away music shop members! Each month, you’ll get to know one of our music shops including how they started, what makes them tick and what you can expect when visiting them.
    Kicking things off is woodwind specialist Howarth of London who have been a Take it away member since 2014! We’ve been lucky enough to visit their wonderful workshop in West Sussex where they make their own oboes, cor anglais’ and oboe d’amores’. Read on to find out more…

    What is the story behind Howarth of London?

    Howarth was established in 1948 as an oboe manufacturer and initially known as ‘Howarth & Co’. The founding directors, Thomas Howarth, George Ingram and Frederik Mooney, were members from three families already known within woodwind manufacture and repair. As ‘Howarth & Co’, they quickly established a reputation for manufacturing fine quality oboes, oboes d’amore and cors anglais.

    The company became incorporated in 1951 and converted to ‘T W Howarth & Co Ltd.’ Shortly after, the shop and workshop moved to Blandford Street. In 1968, when Blandford Street was being redeveloped, Howarth moved to Chiltern Street, the address we are still at today! The manufacturing workshop moved to Sussex. By this time Howarth oboes were being played by oboists in many of the major orchestras.

    Later, the shop expanded with specialist showrooms for bassoon, clarinet, and saxophone in addition to oboe and in 2008 changed the name to ‘Howarth of London Ltd’ as we remain today.

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    Howarth is a specialist woodwind music shop and woodwind instrument maker and we’re known all over the world as makers of the finest oboe, oboes d’amore and cors anglaise. Our retail showrooms are based in London and manufacturing workshop in Worthing, West Sussex where our instruments are made in our dedicated manufacturing workshop.

    The London showrooms are a bustling meeting point for players and offers a range of instruments, accessories, and woodwind sheet music. We offer the opportunity to try out instruments and accessories on site in our testing rooms, encourage and aiding players in finding the best tools to complement their playing.

    Our staff are all players and can help you however long you have been playing – or even if you have not started yet!

    two people examining some oboes at Howarth of London

    What’s the most unusual instrument in your shop?

    Currently, I think the most unusual would be our purple and black swirled oboe with gold plated keys! This instrument is one of two that have been manufactured and alongside looking very different to conventional blackwood oboes it showcases the advances in oboe manufacturing. The oboe is made of ebonite and plays to the same professional standard as our traditional professional models. It is always an eye catcher, and it has started many interesting conversations with musicians from all different backgrounds!

    Oboe from Howarth of London

    What’s been your most popular instrument over lockdown?

    We have seen a large increase in people buying and renting oboes, particularly from those who are returning to the instrument after a long break or have always wanted to play. The extra time that lockdowns have provided has given these players the opportunity to get their teeth into the oboe world.

    What additional services can customers come to you for?

    In our onsite workshop in Chiltern Street, we have highly trained and experienced technicians who offer repair, service and overhauls as well as making custom adaptations and modifications to customers’ specifications for oboe, bassoon, clarinet and saxophone as well as other woodwind instruments. You can see some of our adapted instruments such as the Small Hands Cor Anglais, Mini-Bassoon PLUS+ and Simplefit Mouthpiece for Clarinet in the Take it away Guide to Adaptive Musical Instruments. Recently, Howarth technician Paul, completed this bespoke modification to a Howarth Oboe, allowing the player to use a lyre on the middle joint:

    bespoke oboe joint allowing a lyre to be removed from the oboe

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    We frequently exhibit our instruments and products at events such as Big Double Reed Day and the Music and Drama Education Expo. We also host masterclasses in our shop led by professional musicians, aiming to help woodwind players develop their performance skills and introduce them to new products. These will always be advertised on our social channels so follow us to stay in the loop!

    We rent many instruments to schools, and along with the Take it away Scheme and the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme, we offer a discount to educational establishments. This helps to reduce the financial pressures of learning an instrument and therefore enable more students to begin and continue playing.

    In one sentence, why do you think music shops like yours are vital and important to your community?


    Music shops provide vital support to musicians within a community by offering resources and specialist knowledge which are vital in encouraging their progress.

    It’s been a tough year! How can the music community support you?

    Following the last lockdown during which non-essential retail shops could not be open to the public, we’re very pleased to be able to open our doors to customers again!

    We are currently booking appointments for those wishing to try instruments and are enjoying hearing customers playing music in our shops again. Our shops offer a huge range of woodwind instruments and related products, and all of our staff members are woodwind players, so we welcome anybody looking for specialist advice to come and visit us.

    And finally, why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    Being a musician comes with financial pressures which are unfortunately sometimes a barrier to people taking up an instrument or purchasing the instrument model which would be most suitable for their standard. Finance options such as the Take it away scheme make it possible for people to purchase instruments who may otherwise be unable to.

    Thank you Katie!

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • 60 Seconds with… Ebony & Ivory

    A row of guitars
    We’re delighted to introduce Ebony & Ivory, the newest music shop member of the Take it away scheme!
    Celebrating 40 years of business, we caught up with the team to find out more about the shop based in Colindale, North-West London as well as their music school which now offers handy online lessons too.
    Two people looking at the camera in music shop
    A visit from Ella Henderson

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Dedicated to musicians

    How did the business get started?

    We started about forty years ago when Ajit, who had many years of expertise in piano retail, noticed the need for a dedicated piano shop in north-west London, so he decided to open up the business.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Great customer service! Of course. Relating to our instruments, we originally specialised in new and used pianos but we soon broadened our stock to include digital pianos and keyboards, guitars and basses, ukuleles, violins and violas and other instruments. We also carry hundreds of accessories including strings, bows, picks, tuners, metronomes and cases. There’s a great selection of books in store and also a music printing service.

    Ebony and Ivory Shop FrontWhat additional services do you offer?

    You can come to us for instrument repairs including guitars, amps and keyboards. We can restring guitars, ukuleles, violins and other string instruments and offer setups as well as servicing. We also offer a piano removal service.

    What’s your favourite item for sale in the shop right now?

    Ukuleles – they are a great way to start learning music!

    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    In the basement below the shop we run a music school that teaches hundreds of children and adults to play musical instruments and learn to love music as much as we do. Normally, we hold concerts with our students twice a year where everyone is welcome.

    Find out more about our online music lessons here: ebonyivory.co.uk/online-music-lessons

    Black and white photos of children playing piano, violin and singing

    Visit Ebony & Ivory at:


    Ebony & Ivory shop details
    Ebony and Ivory staff members

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • 60 Seconds with… Mark Goodwin Pianos

    A room with loads of grand pianos
    Mark Goodwin Pianos in Manchester + London is run and owned by Mark and Julie Goodwin. After selling a couple of his uncle’s pianos, Mark released his potential to become a leading national retailer of reconditioned Yamaha pianos and that’s exactly what he does today. They sell modern, upright pianos to people all over the world!  We caught up with Mark to find out more.

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Definitely the loveliest

    How did the business get started?

    My great Uncle Ronnie was brilliant at buying old Bechstein grand pianos but not so good at selling them! I made a piano sales website to help him clear some of the twelve grand pianos that were stored on their side in his little house in Rochdale.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Yamaha Yamaha Yamaha

    We try to keep around 40-50 Japanese-made Yamaha pianos in stock. We don’t stock Chinese pianos or small pianos or old pianos. We specialise in pianos that are suitable for playing all the way up to grade 8 and beyond. We also specialise in happy customers and refuse to have sad or disappointed customers!

    What additional services do you offer?

    We offer a “can do” attitude, we try to say “yes” to customers as often as possible and we go the extra mile as standard. We offer 0% finance, free nationwide delivery, a 100-day 100% money-back trial on all Yamaha pianos and we don’t ask for any payment until the piano has been safely delivered inside your home.

    What’s your favourite item for sale in the shop right now?

    I have to say that our Yamaha U3 pianos are our all-time favourite model. Customers love them, they never get returned, they rarely have problems and they go up and up in value.

    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    In our house we’ve learned that Radiohead’sEverything in its right place” really gets the kids in the mood for tidying up. So I’ll go with that! I apologise to Thom Yorke for lowering his song to a domestic cleaning trigger song.

    Do you get involved in your local community? If so, how?

    We try to give away as many part-ex pianos as possible. Any piano that we don’t want to put our name to, we give away locally for free including free delivery. We are also setting up a guided tour of our warehouse, workshop and showrooms to local children to help them see behind the scenes of a musical instrument shop to help inspire more kids into playing music and also to inspire more children into self-employment. Get in touch if you’d like to have a look around!

    Visit Mark Goodwin Pianos at:

    London: 020 7060 5889
    Manchester: 0161 213 9402
    A white, masculine adult with short, brown hair and wearing a black top is sitting on a stool in a room of upright pianos.

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • 60 Seconds with… Bridgewood & Neitzert

    Bridgewood & Neitzert have been serving London, the UK and the world with their expert repair and restoration of string instruments for almost 40 years. Their busy shop in Stoke Newington is full of beautiful instruments and extraordinary skilled luthiers!

    We spoke to founder Gary Bridgewood to find out more.

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Leading Violin Dealers

    How did the business get started?

    We opened our first workshop with two other colleagues, Robert Louis Baille who now runs a prestigious shop in Seville, Spain and Craig Ryder, a very fine bow-maker who settled in Paris. Both Robert and Craig left for Paris in a black taxi whilst Tom Neitzert and I stayed here and started our partnership in 1982.


    What does your shop specialise in?

    Expert repairs and restoration, sales of violins, violas, cellos, double basses, bows, cases, strings and accessories, both modern and baroque set up. We have a large selection to suit every taste and budget! We’re also here for advice, expertise and consultation.

    What additional services do you offer?

    We have two floors of workshops at our Stoke Newington shop and have some of the finest luthiers in Europe. We pride ourselves on making any repair no matter how small or how extensive. We’ve repaired double basses back to health that have fallen off the back of an aeroplane or violins that have been driven over and look impossible to put back together. Sounds impossible but that’s what we do! We offer the same for bows and cases.

    We also specialise in baroque and classical period instruments and are known worldwide for this, we have a large selection of baroque instruments for sale, and for conversion work – putting instruments back into period set-up. We offer specialist string sales and have the widest possible selection, these are sent all over the world.

    We have a dedicated team handling our hire scheme where students can hire good sounding, easy to play instruments.

    We are conservators for the National Trust, recently we visited Buckingham Palace to repair their Basse de violon. We manage the hire scheme for the Viola da Gamba society, for those looking to hire viols and a similar scheme for the lute society.


    What’s your favourite item for sale in the shop right now?

    There are so many that I love! A wonderful baroque cello by Jacob Haynes made in London 1745, a fantastic violin by Johannes Cuypers, the Hague 1773 but my favourite is a violin by a rare maker called Marcell Pichler, Austria 1677 with a beautiful carved lions head.


    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    Ginette Neveu Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor recorded in 1945


    Do you get involved in your local community? If so, how?

    We have been involved since its inception with the Stoke Newington Early Music festival, such great players as Monica Hugget, Catherine Mackintosh and Emma Kirby have performed. We support music at Sutton House possibly London’s oldest house. We have also supported a local radio station and sponsor many musicians in their concert activities.

    Visit Bridgewood & Neitzert at:

    146 Stoke Newington Church Street
    Stoke Newington
    N16 0JU
    +44 (0)207 2499398

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • All Flutes Plus

    All Flutes Plus specialist music shop selling flutes

    We discuss All Flutes Plus strategy for success with Manager Director Nigel James

    All Flutes Plus is a specialist music shop selling everything to do with buying and playing the flute. The shop has been established for over 30 years. They serve beginners through to professional flautists and have offered Take it away interest-free finance since the scheme started.

    Nigel believes the shops continued success is due to their customer service and complete specialisation in one instrument. Their staff are either accomplished musicians or technicians and therefore have the knowledge to advise. They stock a huge range of flutes from beginners’ instruments to custom-made silver or gold flutes for professional players.

    Staff maintain a long relationship with customers over their musical career. Customers often start as music students and go on to be professional musicians or teachers.

    Nigel recalls one 13-year-old boy studying at Chetham’s School of Music. “He had ADD and had only been playing for a year. He bought a new flute from us, progressed brilliantly, and a couple of years later was at the Royal Academy of Music. Now he plays in a top London orchestra. A late starter, but a phenomenal talent and a highly rated young professional flautist”.

    “Take it away has been great for young music students starting and progressing up the ladder. A finance facility is a big help for parents who want to buy a better quality instrument.

    At All Flutes Plus, parents looking to buy instruments often already know about the Take it away scheme. The scheme helps parents buy a better quality instrument. Nigel advises parents to buy the best model flute that they can comfortably afford, rather than a cheap instrument from the internet. He says, “a better quality instrument can make a real difference to a students’ playing ability and confidence. They will tend to see a greater improvement in learning on a better quality flute so it’s worth the extra investment”.

    For more information about All Flutes Plus, please visit their website.