• In the Spotlight… Rockem Music

    Rockem Music... In the Spotlight | Interview

    We’re delighted to introduce our latest interview series ‘In the Spotlight’ with Take it away music shop members! 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 drum and guitar specialists Rockem Music, based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Read on to find out more…

    What is the story behind Rockem Music?

    Rockem Music Ltd was established in South Yorkshire by the Rockem brothers in September 2003. From very humble beginnings Rockem Music has grown into one of the UK’s leading drum stores. There is a large shop in Rotherham and a superb mail order department sending all over the UK and Europe. The Rockem brothers, Rob and Dave are originally from Poole in Dorset. They are both accomplished musicians having studied their respective instruments from an early age with well respected teachers. Rob studied piano and organ and Dave drums. Both played in various orchestras such as Bournemouth Youth Big Band and Jazz De Sud. Dave went on to play drums professionally and Rob went into accountancy. Dave’s drumming eventually lead him to re locate in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

    In 2003 Rob re located to Rotherham and Rockem Music was formed. Premises had to be found in the town. After a few chats with the local piano centre it was agreed we could start by sharing some of the building. The building is a very spacious converted Chapel. Gradually all the main accounts with the leading suppliers were opened such as Mapex, Yamaha, Remo, Evans, British Drum Co, Paiste, Meinl, Stagg, Takamine, Ibanez, Washburn, Sigma, etc.

    After about six months the company began to grow. It became clear we did not have enough space at the piano centre and the landlord kindly agreed to let us have more space. The rear of the chapel began to fill with more and more stock and Rockem has become one of the best stocked drum shops in the business! The showroom has been modified quite a few times and we now have a large showroom full of stock.

    As the company has grown we have been able to employ more staff. To start with the Rockem brothers pretty much did everything from serving in the shop to packing the mail order sales! After a few months a couple of staff were employed and gradually the employment level has been increased to five full time employees. In 2007 a general manager was taken on as the company had grown very quickly and the Rockem’s needed more help! With each manager able to concentrate on their individual roles, the company was able to expand very rapidly. The two directors and general manager are very involved with the day to day running of the company and this is one of the reasons the customer service is exceptional.

    In 2009 the company expanded into guitars and amps and employed a guitar specialist to run this department. This has continued to grow and now makes up a large part of what we do.

    A yellow to brown ombre drumkit, on display in the Rockem Music shop

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    The store specialises in all types of percussion both new and pre-owned. Our drum kits range from beginner right through to professional. We stock both acoustic and electronic kits. We have some very interesting pre-owned drum kits. We recently sold a vintage Ludwig Vistalite see through acrylic drum kit to a London production company! We have a large range of cymbals on offer and all types of hand percussion, djembe, cajon and bongos! We are one of the best stocked stores in the country.

    Our guitar department also offers both new and pre-owned guitars from beginner to advanced. We stock both acoustic and electric guitars and bass guitars.

    Our staff are very experienced and knowledgeable musicians. Dave works as a professional drummer playing across the UK and Europe. If you require advice on your instrument needs, you have come to the right place!A wall display of a dozen acoustic guitars of various shades, colours and shapes

    What’s the most unusual instrument in your shop?

    Currently, the most unusual instrument we have for sale right now is the Arbiter vintage classic advanced tuning kit – a very rare instrument from the 1990’s!

    What additional services can customers come to you for?

    Tuition is offered for drums. We repair and re-string guitars and there is also a rehearsal space.

    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer/alumni musician…

    Dave taught Ryan Jenkinson drums for many years. Ryan is now playing drums for The Vamps and Reverend and the Makers. We have close ties with local bands The Reytons and The Sherlocks.

    From the jazzy side of things one of our customers is Paul Robinson. Paul has worked at the top of his profession for over 50 years. He works on many premier West End London shows and was Nina Simone’s drummer for 18 years! We advise and supply his drumming equipment.

    Another customer is Ian Roberts. Ian was brought up in Rotherham and often visits the store. He is a session drummer, composer and producer. He has worked with famous bands such as Iron Maiden.

    Do you get involved in the local community?

    In the local community we offer music lessons. We run drum clinics featuring guest drummers in partnership with suppliers such as Yamaha. We work with the annual Rotherham Show suppling drum kits for their performers. We have an instore notice board where we encourage local events to be advertised such as jam nights and open mic nights.

    Why do you think music shops like yours are vital and important to your community?

    Being able to play an instrument is a very therapeutic pastime and music retailers are vital for people to select the instrument which feels right for them. By existing in the local community we are able to offer customers a chance to handle and play an instrument to make sure they are happy with the feel and sound of it. We are able to provide specialist advice on any questions they may have and also supply consumable accessories which may be required.

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

    Trading conditions remain very tough. For local music stores to survive it is vital that the local music community come to the store in person. Our business services customers all over the country via our own web site plus Amazon, Ebay and Reverb. But, a large amount of margin is given away to the these third party platforms and postage costs. Also money is lost due to the cost of returns. Our instore prices are very competitive and it is great to see our customers in person and help them with the next purchase!

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

    The Take it Away scheme provides the opportunity to purchase an instrument on an interest free basis making participating in music more affordable.

    Thank you Rob!

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • Music disability charity OHMI celebrates ten years of inclusive music-making

    Music disability charity OHMI celebrates ten years of inclusive music-making

    Disabled music charity The OHMI Trust, is celebrating its tenth anniversary in matching disabled musicians with the adapted instruments they need to make music.


    The charity was established in 2011, with no money, only two trustees, and two volunteers. Fast forward ten years, and this small but ambitious charity has much to celebrate.

    It is unique in the breadth of support it offers to disabled child and adult musicians, with its impact felt across teaching, research and development, and awareness raising. The charity’s biennial competition, which supports the development of musical instruments that can be played without the use of one hand or arm, attracts entries from across the globe. Its popular Music-Makers and Inclusive Access to Music-Making programmes gain momentum each and every year, reaching new musicians across England and Wales. Its hire scheme offers an impressive 300 instruments and pieces of enabling equipment; a number that will only grow through the development of further instruments through OHMI’s research partnership with Queen Mary University, London and Birmingham City University. It is this wide-ranging work that led to the charity receiving recognition in The House of Lords.

    These impressive milestones will be marked at OHMI’s 2021 Competition Awards and Tenth Anniversary Celebrations, taking place on Saturday, 25th September. The event, which will be held at Aston University, will also be live-streamed from 6pm BST, and is expected to attract musicians and representatives from musical organisations from around the world.

    The event will include performances from the talented OHMI musical community, as well as an announcement on the winners of the 2021 Competition, along with demonstrations of their equipment.

    Melissa Johns, British actor and disability activist, best known for her roles in Coronation Street, BBC drama Life, and, most recently, Celebrity Masterchef, will be hosting the event.

    As Rachel Wolffsohn, OHMI’s Manager, explains,

    “Melissa is a proud champion of the rights of disabled people, so she was the perfect choice in helping OHMI to bang the drum for inclusive music-making. Hosting the event, for the first time, as a blended live and broadcast event, will allow us to share the celebrations with a global audience, reflecting the truly international nature of the competition entries over the years.” 

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • In the Spotlight… Forsyth Music Shop

    Forsyth Music Shop In The Spotlight

    Based in a beautiful five floor building, Forsyths is a family owned and run music shop that’s been in Manchester since 1857. This month, we interviewed Emma Loat who, together with her brother Simon, is the 5th generation of the family.

    Emma and Simon Loat

    What is the story behind Forsyths?

    Forsyths is still a family owned and run business having been at the heart of music in Manchester since 1857. My brother Simon and I are the 5th generation. We were originally established by James and Henry Forsyth as a piano shop as well as managers of the newly established Hallé Orchestra. We have been in our current premises since the 1880s. Forsyths expanded into a wider range of musical products including orchestral and folk instruments as well as printed sheet music. We also established our own publishing house which is still in operation today.

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    Forsyths Pianos

    We are a large independent music shop spread over 5 floors (15,000sq ft) with a wide range of interesting stock for beginners to professionals alike. We also have in-house workshops where we restore and repair acoustic pianos, we also have in-house guitar techs as well as string and woodwind repair specialists. Our depth of stock in sheet music is unrivalled. Customers come from far and wide to spend a day browsing our extensive stocks as well as attending one of our many events for music lovers.

    Have you got an unusual instrument in your shop?

    We have always stocked a wide variety of acoustic pianos and like to have unusual pianos on display – they don’t always have to be black and shiny! We have a very unique piano currently in stock – the only one in the UK – a beautiful Bubinga Schimmel grand piano K189T – it is stunning as a piece of furniture and a superb musical instrument too!



    What additional services do you offer?

    Alongside the wide selection of stock we have available to browse and and purchase we offer a comprehensive servicing and repair service for most instruments. We also offer in-house tuition for piano, woodwind, string instruments and guitars. We offer private piano practice rooms equipped with high quality Schimmel grands and uprights. We also have an ongoing series of recitals in our piano showroom – twice per month as well as participative events such as monthly ‘Lets Play the Piano!’ meet up groups.

    Forsyths Sheet Music


    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer…

    We have a very wide ranging customer base and had many a celebrity customer through the door. From Gary Barlow and Billy Bragg to Eric Cantona (trumpet) and Gary and Phil Neville as well as many international professionals such as Katherine Stott, Ben Frith, Murray McLachlan to name but a few.


    How do you get involved in your local community?

    We are very much involved with the local musical community supplying many schools with instruments and sheet music. We work with Chethams’ School of Music particularly and support many of their events throughout the year including their International Piano Summer School where we supply many of the pianos and have a pop-up sheet music shop in the school as well as offering in-store workshop tours etc. We also have a ‘street piano’ which lives outside the front of our shop when we are open and is enjoyed by a wide range of passers by – some of which have gone viral on social media with their performances!


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

    Forsyths provides a vital role for musicians and music lovers alike – a resource that is valued by our customers and the wider public. We help to keep the high-street vibrant and alive – an interesting place to visit!


    This past year and a half with the pandemic and the fallout from Brexit has indeed been a tough one for retailers. Please do continue to support and visit your real ‘bricks and mortar’ music shop as it is a real tangible resource which can never be substituted by buying on-line.


    Why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    The Take it Away scheme is a really useful option to help young people buy an instrument that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, from flutes to grand pianos!


    Thank you, Emma!

    Visit Forsyth Music shop online at: https://www.forsyths.co.uk/

    And follow them for updates on Facebook, Instagram + Twitter:

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • Learn To Play 2021


    After delays and cancellations due to the dreaded C, we’re very excited that Learn To Play is back this year 🎉

    During Learn to Play 2019, over 10,000 participants received a free taster music lesson together with information on buying an instrument and finding local teachers, groups and other fellow musicians!

    Not sure what to expect? Here’s a little round-up of what it is and how to get involved…

    music for all logo making music changes livesWhat is Learn To Play?

    Organised by Music For All, Learn to Play is a national group of events where venues across the UK such as music shops, performance spaces, libraries and educational centres offer free taster music lessons.

    When is it?

    Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September 2021.

    Who can get involved?

    Whether you’re a budding or lapsed music maker you can start your musical journey by attending a Learn to Play ’21 event! Learn To Play events are open to anyone and everyone who wants to take part.

    What does it cost?

    It’s free and open to the public.

    venues nationwide Where does it take place?

    There are events happening in venues up and down the country. Look for an event to join near you here: musicforall.org.uk/learn-to-play

    This year, there will also be an online programme so if there isn’t a venue close by you can still join in!

    How can I get involved?

    Either pop to your local venue and take part (some will be asking you to book a space in advance so do check ahead) or join in online. 

    All necessary Covid safeguards will of course be in place.

    If you’re representing a venue, you can set up your own event and list it here: musicforall.submittable.com

    🎹 Vale Pianos 🎹

    Our very own Take it away music shop member Vale Pianos are taking part in Learn to Play on Saturday 25th September!

    They are offering free lessons in their wonderful shop in Worcestershire.

    Have you always dreamt of playing the piano or keep promising yourself that one day you’ll go back and continue where you left off? Then make it happen this the year! Playing the piano is a wonderful hobby no matter what age you are.


    This is a great opportunity to have an informal, sample lesson for you or your child, the lessons are provided by Richard who has a relaxed approach to teaching.

    Piano lessons will be taking place between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm.

    To book your lesson, please phone Vale Pianos on 01386 860419 or email info@valepianos.co.uk

    Whether you’re making a return to music or trying instruments for the first time, we’d love to hear how you get on!

    Tag us on the day and show us how you’re celebrating:

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • In the Spotlight… Just Flutes

    Just Flutes In The Spotlight

    Based in beautiful 16th-century premises located in Croydon (South London), Just Flutes have been supplying flutes, piccolos and more to players all across the world for over 35 years!
    With an on-site workshop for repairs, adjustments and custom made headjoints, as well as an extensive sheet music offering, Just Flutes really is a hub for all your fluting needs.
    This month, we interviewed Adam Clifford to find out more about this wonderful music shop and learn about some of their more unusual instruments…

    Just Flutes rehearsal room


    What is the story behind Just Flutes?

    We actually started as two businesses that came together! Just Flutes was started in 1985 in Twickenham by Chris Hankin, a flute teacher and freelance player, who saw that there was a gap in the market for a specialist shop selling sheet music, instruments and accessories. The sheet music catalogue quickly became famous across the world for being probably the most extensive of its kind, listing almost everything that was available in print for flute.

    Meanwhile, Jonathan Myall Musical Instruments was started around the same time in a small village outside London called Walton on the Hill, specialising in woodwind instruments and, in particular, flutes. In the late 1980s, Jonathan Myall bought Just Flutes and the two companies merged. Now, the business has a strong (80%) leaning towards flutes, but we still sell a large number of clarinets and saxophones, too.

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    Just Flutes old Tudor store front

    We have absolutely everything a flute player could ever dream about. Flutes from £150 to £30,000; flutes in all shapes and sizes, accessories, and of course a huge selection of flute music! We still have the same ethos as when we started: if it’s in print, we will have it!

    Our shop is based in Croydon, in south London, in what is believed to be the oldest shop in town. It’s a beautiful Tudor timber-framed building dating from around 1550 give or take a few years. Customers are often surprised to see such a beautiful building in Croydon, which is more widely known for its 1960s Brutalist architecture! Walking through the door is like stepping into the Tardis: the shop front is tiny, but the showroom goes back a long way and we are in fact spread over three floors. We’re lucky enough to have one of the most beautiful practice rooms of any music shop in the world!

    For customer-facing roles, we only employ flute players, which means that our customers can have the advice of a musician who really knows the ins and outs of each instrument. Our staff have usually studied flute at music college or university level, so can themselves play to a very high standard.

    Have you got an unusual instrument in your shop?

    Currently, we have a Subcontrabass flute in G. It’s about 8 feet tall and has two bends in; if unwrapped, it would be around 12 feet long! It sounds two and a half octaves below the concert flute and requires a lot of puff. It was made by Eva Kingma in the Netherlands, who specialises in low flutes; it sells for £21,500!

    subcontra bass flute

    See if you can spot it in the virtual tour below…

    What has been the most popular instrument to pick up and learn over lockdown?

    We’ve sold lots of beginner flutes over lockdown, including to nurses and doctors on the frontline who needed a way to unwind in their time out.

    What additional services do you offer?

    We have a fabulous repair workshop run by Ian McLauchlan, who also makes flute headjoints on-site in silver and gold.

    Gold flute


    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer…

    We’ve sold flutes to the principal flutes of the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House… Lots of people who are famous in the flute world, but probably the most well-known non-flute player was James May (Top Gear) who drove down on his motorbike one day to pick up a flute! We don’t know whether it was for himself or as a gift for someone else, though!

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    We put on lots of events for the wider flute community, including lessons and workshops with some of the world’s leading flute players. At the start of lockdown in 2020, we ran a series of daily warm-ups for flute players, and a series of lessons for players to start learning the tin whistle. Latterly we’ve had a series of online events for adult amateur flute players to improve their playing, learn new repertoire and – because it’s what community is all about – socialise!

    book shelves full of sheet music


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

    In non-Covid times, our shop is a bustling hub for flute players to meet and socialise: we never know who will walk through our doors on a given day and what opportunities for players can develop from a chance encounter!

    Why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    Buying a musical instrument is a serious investment, and a good flute often comes with a big price tag. Spreading payments via Take It Away with an interest-free loan makes the flute much more affordable to players who would otherwise not be able to access these kinds of instruments.

    Thank you, Adam!

    Visit Just Flutes online at: justflutes.com

    And follow them for updates on Facebook, Instagram + Twitter:

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • Learning by Livestream

    Learning by Livestream

    Based in Cambridge, Liam Taylor has been making music non-stop in some form for the last 17 years. He works across different areas of music from education to running a music blog, composing for independent film and releasing his own original music. This year, Liam became a Steinberg Certified Trainer and has gained recognition for his Cubase tutorial type livestream sessions. 

    We caught up with Liam to find out more about his approach to learning how to produce music and to get some advice for anyone looking to get started in this side of music-making.

    What led you to start creating your livestream music production sessions?

    I started creating videos for YouTube 10 years ago. For a while, I was creating weekly videos teaching composition or guitar techniques, sharing ideas and sometimes releasing new music. This was a great way to build a community but also gave me a way to discover new ideas myself – they say the best way to learn is to teach.

    Trying to keep on top of this weekly schedule became tricky after a while. I found that I was prioritising video creation over writing music which didn’t make any sense to me. So, I started to look for ways to stay in touch with my audience that didn’t require several days of research, recording and editing every week. I realised that live streaming could be the answer.

    I decided to go live twice a week and make music in Cubase with no goals other than to be creative. This gave me a reliable 4 hours of music creation every week with very little preparation. It also allowed me to chat with the audience live, so it was absolutely the right call.

    Liam Taylor playing the guitar with a black back drop

    I find being this open with my creative process really helps viewers see how music is really created; in an imperfect, non-linear way with plenty of mistakes!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


    Describe your sessions – what can viewers expect to happen and learn?

    The goal is almost always to write a new piece of music from scratch. I recently added a keyboard camera to the setup to show exactly what I’m playing and talk through the notes or chords I’m using. As I write the different parts, I describe the decisions I’m making, sometimes throwing decisions to the audience. Sometimes the audience will insist I change a patch or a chord which I don’t mind! 

    Once the basic structure of a song is in place, I’ll start adding production elements like E.Q., dynamic plugins, etc. Depending on the type of song I’m working on, I might add electric guitar, bass or ukulele – I have a room full of instruments so it’s nice to make use of them. 

    Liam Taylor working on music production software on a desktop computer


    What’s the benefit of livestreaming compared to pre-recorded videos in your opinion?

    Because I talk through all the decision making, viewers can use any of the production or composition techniques in their own work. I find being this open with my creative process really helps viewers see how music is really created; in an imperfect, non-linear way with plenty of mistakes! It’s exactly the kind of thing I would have watched when I was a teenager, (and exactly the kind of thing I do watch whenever I can!) 

    Occasionally, I’ll run a stream where I look back over old project files to add some variety. It’s really funny to look back at decisions I made 5+ years ago and wonder “what was I thinking!?” Sometimes it’s similar to working with younger music producers because some simple fixes can make the whole piece work better. Rather than working with a younger producer, I’m working with a younger version of myself so I’m pretty comfortable calling out whatever silly decisions I made back then. 

    These sessions go out on YouTube and Twitch (both free platforms) so anyone with either account can watch and interact. I welcome any audience questions, whether or not it’s relevant to the stream’s topic. I have some big ideas about where to take these broadcasts in the future – I think there’s potential for this to be a great resource for all music students.


    What advice or tips would you give to someone looking to start learning from scratch?

    A lot of creative projects can look really daunting from the outside. You don’t necessarily need any prior knowledge to start making music so I’d suggest that anyone interested should just jump in!

    Try to turn off the part of your brain that tells you you’ll fail, because of course you will, but you have to embrace failure as part of the process. 

    I’d recommend starting by making a BandLab account – it’s a free, web-based program with plenty of tutorials and resources to help you get started. You’re likely to outgrow it at some point, but you’ll learn a lot in the meantime and the benefit is that you won’t have to spend any money up-front.


    What do you think the biggest barriers are that stop young people from getting involved in music-making?

    I believe there are two main issues. Firstly, information overload. It’s hard to know where to begin, especially as there are so many different programmes and so many ways to approach music-making. What works for you might not work for someone else and, unfortunately, you don’t always know that until you try it.

    Secondly, confidence. As a kid, when you think of making music you probably start by thinking of someone incredibly famous who tours the world and is all over social media. When I was a teenager, I thought that all musicians could sight-read. I assumed that anyone playing music on TV had a Grade 8 and had spent years studying music history. Eventually, I realized that wasn’t true. In fact, all I needed was a guitar, Cubase and the confidence to trust my intuition. 


    Why do you think it’s important to learn about music production?

    Whatever your long-term goals are with music, understanding the production side of things and knowing the basics of a digital audio workstation (DAW) will be beneficial. If you’re interested in music creation but you treat it as a hobby, making beats or recording yourself with a DAW is a really fulfilling way to explore your creativity.

    If you want to be a performer of some kind, knowing how to record basic demos or backing tracks will be incredibly useful to convey your artistic vision to other producers, or a record label, (if that’s the route you want to take). If you’re dedicated enough, you may be able to self-produce your work at every stage of your career. 

    There are also plenty of careers that rely on music tech: commercial music and client work; studio production and engineering; composition for film, TV and games. Being familiar with a DAW and some standard production techniques is a great start for anyone considering these careers. 


    How can people get involved in your sessions and stay in touch?

    There’s a page on my website with a Livestream calendar and further info. You’re welcome to explore the site for more information about me and my music projects: ltguitarist.com/streaming

    I’m @LTGuitarist on all the socials and most active on Twitter if you have any questions.


    Stay up to date and tune into Liam’s livestreams by clicking on the icons below:

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • In the Spotlight… Becketts Music

    Becketts Music... In the Spotlight

    trio of images of the inside of becketts shop
    In the Spotlight today is Becketts Music, based in Southampton. In 2021, this extensively stocked music shop celebrated its 75th year since opening in 1946! We caught up with the owner, Dan Redhead, to find out what they’ve got to offer in the shop and how they can help you, our lovely Take it away customers.

    What is the story behind Becketts?

    The business was started in 1946 by Mr Beckett senior, so we celebrated our 75th year of trading in 2021. I joined Becketts in 1980 as a sales assistant and subsequently became manager. Mr Beckett’s son at that time was running the shop and eventually, we became business partners. I had always wanted to do something within the music sector and a plan was agreed to allow him to eventually retire at which point I took over the business. It was a very amicable arrangement and Mr Beckett still carries out repairs for the store as a 3rd party repairer today.

    Old black and white image of becketts music shop front

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    We can offer a great wealth of knowledge having been involved in the music industry for many years. Our staff are knowledgeable on the instruments we have for sale, either as players or from years of sales experience (or both!). We have a reputation for good honest advice and help which is not earned by being a “quick box shifter”.

    timpani inside shopWhat’s the most unusual instrument in your shop?

    At the moment, probably a 25″ timpani sat in the shop – any takers?

    What additional services do you offer?

    Repairs to instruments are the main additional service we offer. We don’t have much physical space so we’re unable to offer tuition but we do work closely with local teachers – do ask us for recommendations!

    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer…

    Over the years we have had involvement with many celebrities as we are located only a stone’s throw from the local Mayflower Theatre. We have had last-minute requests from musicians appearing at the theatre, musicians who were performing for the Queen on board a ship following its launch but had left gear behind, as well as James Last (a blast from the past) who wanted music stands within an hour.

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

    There would be so many, I guess it really depends on your mood at the time. I have quite a range of interests but it would have to be something with a decent melody. Sorry, I can’t pick from such a vast library to choose from!

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    We visit schools to explain how instruments work and meet with bands to give talks on instrument care. If we can, we always try to help with any musically orientated project.

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

    You will never be able to experience the joy of trying that instrument and getting invaluable advice through a computer screen.

    Why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    Money can be tight for all of us and Take it away gives that opportunity for customers to purchase that instrument which in turn opens up a whole world of opportunity.

    Thanks, Dan!

    Visit Becketts Music at: beckettsmusic.co.uk

    And follow them for updates on Facebook + Twitter:

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • Make Music Day


    We’ve made it to June, the sun is shining and summer in the UK is feeling very promising!

    This month, we’re very much looking forward to Make Music Day on 21st June. Not sure what to expect? Here’s a little round-up of what it is and how to get involved…

    What is Make Music Day?

    Make Music is a day of celebration of all music around the world! It first happened in France in 1982 on the summer solstice when they had a festival called ‘Fête De La Musique’. This evolved to become Make Music Day which is now celebrated across the globe in over 125 countries.

    street music party

    When is it?

    Every year on 21st June.

    Who can get involved?

    Make Music Day is open to anyone and everyone who wants to take part; whether you’re a beginner, amateur or professional musician, interested in classical, rock, jazz or pop, young or old – you’re all invited!

    What does it cost?

    It’s free and open to the public.

    Where does it take place in the UK?

    There are events happening up and down the country. Look for an event to join here: makemusicday.co.uk/events

    Or you can set up your own event and list it here: makemusicday.co.uk/get-involved

    Musicians playing on a bandstand

    How can I get involved?

    This year there will be both digital and socially distanced celebrations including window serenades, listening parties and live streams. There are lots of ways to take part! 

    Have a look at the Make Music Day website by clicking here for 21 ways to get involved

    Making Music UK is also organising a Bandstand project so see if you can join them by checking their website here: makingmusic.org.uk/opportunities/make-music-day 

    There’s a lot of great resources on the Make Music Day website with ideas of what and how to set up your event here: makemusicday.co.uk/resources 

    📣 Calling all Take it away Music Shop members to join in!

    Do you have suitable space for performances?

    Why not invite local musicians to come and play throughout the day to support your local community? Or perhaps set up an open door day so that members of the public can pop in and have a play… they may discover new instruments and become your next customer!

    There are useful resources from the Musicians’ Union, ISM and more including how to set up your own gig, live stream, host online concerts etc. here: makemusicday.co.uk/resources 

    Let us know if you’re planning anything on Make Music Day this year and we’ll see how we can support you here at Take it away. 

    Contact us

    After a year of restrictions, Make Music Day is going to be the perfect opportunity to celebrate playing music together!

    Tag us on the day and show us how you’re celebrating:

    Make Music Day UK 21 June logo

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • 6 Pieces of Studio Gear to get started as a Producer/ DJ – Point Blank

    Point Blank Beginner Kit List: 6 Pieces of Studio Gear for Producers/DJs

    Point Blank Music School pride themselves on helping young creatives kick-start their music careers. With over 25-years of offering award-winning music courses both at their HQ’s in London and Los Angeles, as well as online, they are clued up when it comes to the kind of music tech you should have in your home studio. If you’re new to the world of music production and/or DJing and need to get to grips with what software and hardware you need, they can help!

    They’ve put together their six go-to pieces of kit for anyone looking to jump into the world of music creation and performance which you’ll find below.

    If you’d like to learn more about music production, DJing, singing, songwriting and music business, be sure to check out Point Blank’s courses. Plus, they’re currently offering 25% off their selected LondonOnline and Los Angeles courses using the codes LONDON25ONLINE25 and LA25.

    1. Ableton Live

    Ableton Live is a staple for many music producers, featuring a range of instruments and effects. There are some affordable price plans available if you’re not looking to buy upfront as well as the option to grab yourself a copy for free when enrolling on certain Point Blank courses. If you’re looking for some fantastic free plugins to add to your music production tool kit, check out Point Blank’s round-up of the 10 Best Free Plugins: 2021.


    2. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MKII

    Akai’s MPK Mini MKII is a great controller for programming beats and playing in your basslines and melodies. Unlike many other controllers, the MKII has an innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control as well as a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable modes. This one’s perfect for taking on the road due to its compact size of 18 x 31.4 cm (that’s roughly the size of a laptop).

    AKAI Professional MPK Mini MKII

    3. Focusrite Scarlett Solo

    To help connect all your gear, you’ll need a good audio interface. Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo is perfect for beginners and features an XLR input for recording vocals or instruments, the best-sounding Scarlett mix preamp yet, a 2-in/2-out configuration and more.

    Focusrite Scarlett Solo plugged into laptop and man recording guitar


    4. KRK ROKIT RP5 G4 Studio Monitors

    What’s great about the KRK ROKIT RP5 G4 monitors is their integration with the KRK app. This allows users to gain expert assistance with EQ, level matching, speaker placement and more, so you’ll get the most out of your monitors. KRK’s are popular in lots of home studios thanks to their reliable quality and accessible prices. As well as featuring powerful D-class amplifiers, their custom Brickwall Limiter helps provide wider sound dynamics and prevents them from overheating.

    KRK Rokit RP5 G4

    5. beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

    These beyerdynamics are a solid option for those looking to use their new headphones primarily at the studio. They’re bass-heavy, reasonably priced and durable, meaning that you won’t need to replace them anytime soon. You’ll reap the benefits of these headphones when using an audio interface but when plugged into a laptop or phone the sound can feel slightly less driven. Overall these are a great selection if you’re in the game for some low-end studio sessions.

    beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones


    6. Pioneer DJ DDJ-400

    The DDJ-400 from Pioneer DJ comes in at just under £250, making it a fantastic entry-level controller for those looking to jump into the world of DJing. Like many of Pioneer DJ’s other hardware controllers, the DDJ-400 comes equipped with the latest Rekordbox software which enables users to set cue points, hot cues, arrange playlists and organise their tracks for use on CDJs when the time comes. The layout on this controller mirrors that of the performance tech giant’s flagship NXS2 set-up, meaning that it’s a great tool to use when preparing yourself for the club.



    Point Blank Music School Logo

    If you’re looking to kick-start your music career, be sure to check out Point Blank’s award-winning courses in London, Los Angeles and Online: www.pointblankmusicschool.com

    Take it away logo


    How Take it away can help you

    Instruments and equipment can be expensive meaning some people never discover the joy of learning and playing music.

    At Take it away, we work with our retail partners, Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to break down these barriers. A part of Creative United, a community interest company that drives economic growth and social impact in the arts and creative industries, we provide a range of subsidised and non-subsidised loans. These are designed to make learning, playing and participating in music more affordable and open to everyone.

    Together with our partners, we look to enable and inspire a life-long love of music.

    Find out how Take it away can help you with the cost of a musical instrument, equipment and software.

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • 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