• 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 

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • Visiting music shops in person post lockdown

    Why we're excited to visit music shops again in person 🎉

    As we all know, many small businesses and high street shops were knocked sideways when lockdown hit the UK, but a year later things are starting to look up…

    Music shops have always been ‘essential shops’ in our eyes so we were super excited when our Take it away music shop members were once more allowed to throw open their doors ready to welcome back customers! 

    Many music shops have adapted to the times to ensure that lots of their stock is available to buy online, and for some customers this may still be the safest option. If you feel comfortable doing so, supporting your local music shop in person is incredibly important and here’s why we recommend popping in to see them:

    In need of a new instrument or upgrade?

    Nothing can compare to the joy of trying out different instruments and seeing how they feel beneath your fingertips. Some even say that it’s the instrument that chooses the musician… (Harry Potter fans, we see you.)

    Music shop staff have unrivalled knowledge so stop by and ask for their advice however little or big a question you may have. Our Take it away retailers are lovely and are always ready to help – we know that they’ve missed having a chat with customers and musicians alike! 

    17 String instruments displayed on wall

    Image curtesy of Alan Gregory Music

    Looking to refresh your repertoire? 

    Browsing for new sheet music in person and having a peek inside to see what the print is like beats searching online where more often or not you can only see the cover. In store, you’ll often be able to see what’s popular to learn for your level and ask for recommendations too! Also the smell of new books is oddly appealing. (This felt strange to write down but you know what we mean!)

    Photo of sheet music on shelves

    Image curtesy of Just Flutes

    Start browsing 

    Two shop staff with covid safe face masks

    We’ve got a brand new search page to make finding the best Take it away music shop member for you super easy! 

    All of our shop members have the appropriate COVID safety measures in place and some have timed booking slots to visit showrooms or try out new instruments, so make sure to have a quick check online before you head over. 

    Either search by location on the map with your postcode/town, or filter by instrument and shop name.

    Image curtesy of Bridgewood & Neitzert 

    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… StringWind Repairs

    StringWind Repairs Shop
    From repairing and selling brass, woodwind and stringed instruments to making violins in the onsite workshop, there’s lots going on in this music shop!
    Nestled in Evegate (just outside Ashford, Kent) we spoke to StringWind Repairs owner and maker Derek Himsley to find out more…

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Inside shop violins displayed on wall

    We solve problems!

    How did the business get started?

    In 2010, I started to learn to play the flute as a distraction from grief. Being an engineer, I thought that I should be able to service it myself so I signed up for a three year course in brass and woodwind repairs at Merton College. The second year was cancelled due to too few students, so I transferred to the second year of the three year violin making and repair course, which I completed in two years. I have been trading since 2011 and my son-in-law has now joined the business as a partner.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Following my courses and training, I now repair almost any musical instrument and make instruments in the violin family. We also look for innovative solutions to help the disabled to play music, but this is a generalised answer. I guess we specialise in making people happy ☺️

    What additional services do you offer?

    We sell a range of instruments (both new and used), offer advice on the choice of instruments, have a range of rental instruments available and advise on the viability of repairs.

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

    Actually, my most favourite instrument, a Yamaha bass clarinet has recently been sold. It had been here a while and I was beginning to think that it may end up as mine!

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

    Difficult to choose one, in memory of my wife either Pachelbel’s Cannon or Three Times a Lady, but I like the Mozart Wind Concertos.

    Ok we’ll let you have the three! How do you get involved in your local community?

    I support the Pilgrims Hospice by selling donated instruments for them, making sure that they are in playable condition, I also take part in their charity events, such as parachute jumping or walks – I recently did a wing walk!

    We’ve also worked on adapting instruments for physically disabled musicians such as an adapted violin for a one-handed player. We very much support the Take it away Inclusive and Accessible Music-Making Initiative.

    Visit StringWind Repairs at:


    Derek Himsley in his workshop

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • 60 Seconds with… Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre

    Front of "Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre"

    *This article was first published in July 2020*

    Born from a long held childhood dream, the iconic Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre is a one stop shop for all your percussion and guitar needs!
    Founders David Fletcher and Andrew Cammiss first opened their specialist shop in 1999 and it has grown from strength to strength.
    We talked to David to find out more ahead of their reopening on Friday 3rd July post lockdown. 

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Great friendly store

    How did the business get started?

    David Fletcher, Director

    My business partner Andy and I, are both working drummers and have been friends since our teens. Back in 1999, we had the idea to open a drum store in Nottingham and so we opened the Nottingham Drum Centre that December. We had a team of drum teachers in the building too and the business just grew and grew. A few years later we decided to add a guitar department and the store became the Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre.

    By around 2006, we realised we needed bigger showroom premises so the hunt was on. Luckily, we found an ideal building and, after a lot of hard work and many late nights, we moved into our present store on Cranbrook Street, just a stones throw away from the Motorpoint Arena.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Drums and guitars, plus offshoots such as marching and concert percussion, and sound healing gongs.

    What additional services do you offer?

    We do a lot of drum repairs, re-heading, tuning, and also guitar restringing.

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

    That’s such a difficult one… probably the large Meinl Gong as I seem to be unable to walk past it without giving it a hit!

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

    “Variations” by Andrew Lloyd Webber… Incredible music played by awesome musicians.

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

    We are very proactive in instrument tuition and have a great working relationship with many great drum and guitar tutors. We’ve also held many drum clinics over the years with people such as Gregg Bissonette, Jojo Mayer, Craig Blundell, Thomas Lang, to name just a few…

    We are re-opening on Friday 3rd July and looking forward to getting back to the shop and seeing our customers and friends. This year had started off for us very positively, so we’re hoping to build on that success after the COVID Lockdown. Pop in and see us 🙂

    Visit Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre at:

    Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre
    Cranbrook Street
    NG1 1ER

    0115 8414148

    Inside a music shop with a wall full of electric guitars, a drum kit and a counter

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic