• Opening night of the Music for Youth Proms

    The Music for Youth Proms is a spectacular national showcase event held at the Royal Albert Hall in November of every year. It provides a brilliant snapshot of young people’s music-making across the UK. The 2021 event was hailed as the most diverse ever, and this year proved no exception.
    A few members of the team were lucky enough to attend on the opening night. Here’s how it went down…

    On Tuesday 15th November the Take it away team visited the world famous Royal Albert Hall to see the first in this year’s Music For Youth Proms concerts.

    Since the inaugural concert in 1975,  the Proms have been the grand finale to Music for Youth annual  calendar of events. Appearing at the concerts were musicians and ensembles who have performed at the National and Regional Festivals earlier in the year, along with ensembles who were brought together to perform a piece of music commissioned especially for each concert.

    Taking our seats, we were struck by the palpable excitement from both the audience and the performers in the vast auditorium. For many involved this represented the highlight of several months hard work and preparation, and many in the audience had travelled across the country to see family members perform.

    Music for Youth Proms 2022. Various children singing and playing instruments

    A showcase of young talent

    The evening opened in spectacular fashion with Walthamstow School for Girls performing Sunrise from Also Sprach Zarathustra, known to many as the theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey on steel pan drums. We were then treated to a fantastic performance of pop hits from Rubik’s Cube, an ensemble from the Osborne School in Winchester, a maintained special school for pupils with learning disabilities aged 11-19.

    Other highlights included the virtuosic Gwent Music Harp Ensemble and Pear, who were a singer instrumentalist duo who had the whole audience in the palm of their hand for their performance.

    A spectacular finale

    The evening came to a rousing conclusion with the finale written by Adey Grummet and Michael Henry and performed by everyone in the hall and even gave us an opportunity to flex our vocal chords with some audience participation! It was a truly wonderful finish to an evening of performances from talented young musicians. We look forward to coming back next year!

    Play back button. Read/watch more

    Rubik’s Cube Music for Youth Proms 2022


    Music for Youth Interviews Pear


  • Let’s Do This! The Accessibility Journey Continues…

    Friday 18th February, 3pm - 5pm GMT

    Following the success of last year’s event “Normalising the Conversation”, Jason Dasent is organising another live music industry forum focusing on accessibility.

    Confirmed attendees include Ableton, Antares, Arturia, Avid, BIMM Institute London, Creative United, Focusrite/Novation, Kingston University, Native Instruments, Output, Pace|JUCE & Roland.

    Jason Dasent is a Music Producer and Accessibility Consultant who has been studying and working in the UK for the past 2 years. After the incredible progress that was made in music tech accessibility as a direct result of Jason’s MA Thesis event “Normalising the Conversation” in January last year, he is even more committed to be a driving force in advancing this important cause.

    “Let’s Do This: The Accessibility Journey Continues” will again see key players from music equipment manufacturing, education and retail brought together to deepen discussions that will hopefully enable even more creative, viable solutions for these businesses in the field of accessibility in music tech.


    The event will feature:
    • Two discussion panels with key players from all sectors of the music industry
    • Two demos of new products that have been made accessible over the last year
    • A workshop showing a music production from recording to mastering using mainstream hardware and software in Jason’s fully accessible studio
    • Q and A.
    You can expect to hear about a diverse range of topics, including:
    • The milestones that have been made over the past year in the field of accessible music technology
    • Advice for companies who are at the beginning of their journey into accessibility
    • How recent technical developments can make it easier for manufacturers to make their products accessible
    • The importance of creating documentation and video content that can be understood by visually impaired producers and engineers
    Book your Eventbrite tickets here:


    Check out some of the panellists below:
    Jason (A brown, masculine adult with short black hair and wearing a blue shirt) in Studio playing keyboards
    Come join us and Let’s Do This!

    Jason Dasent

    Let's Do This Banner
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    A "Let's Do This" poster about helping people with disabilities to play music.
    Watch Jason at work:

    VIDEO: Watch as Jason Dasent demonstrates the production techniques that help him navigate his studio equipment

  • Making music production more accessible with Jason Dasent

    Making music production more accessible with Jason Dasent

    Accomplished musician, music producer, audio engineer, accessibility consultant… there are many strings to Jason Dasent’s bow.  He uses innovative production techniques, many of which he helped to develop, to create great music – working with music manufacturers and software developers to help ensure their equipment works for people like him that have accessibility needs. And he does it all with a smile and a positive attitude that is infectious. We had a great chat with Jason and got a brilliant insight into how he works.

    For many years, the visually impaired community has been underserved by most music equipment manufacturers, with only a few  (ProTools/ Sibelius), Native Instruments (Komplete Kontrol) and Apple (Logic) introducing accessibility to their products within the last few years. However, things are changing, and Jason Dasent has been at the forefront of those changes.

    We dropped in (virtually) to his fully equipped recording studio, which comes complete with four keyboards and “tons of hardware”. It’s a happy day for Jason, as he’s just received the news that he got a distinction for his MA.  So what led to him studying in the UK?

    “I ran a studio in Trinidad for 19 years, and also worked with most of the music studios in Trinidad. Even before accessibility was a word, so I had to find work arounds. As accessibility and screen readers came into play, I became a bit of a ‘tech head’, and was fortunate enough to be able to embrace the technology as it was coming together. I then started developing some of this technology.”

    It’s clear that Jason has a very ‘can-do’ attitude, which manifested itself when he came across a significant technical barrier.  A software program, Maschine (Native Instruments) was not designed in an accessible way by the manufacturer, so Jason immediately set about making it work for him. “I would not accept that it’s not accessible,” he said. He was able to create macros that worked with the interface to make the program accessible, and before he knew it the manufacturer invited him and his wife (who helped him develop the software) to the UK. Word spread, and then other manufacturers started getting in touch. He decided to stay in the UK to study a Masters in Popular Music Practice and Entrepreneurship, and continues to work with music equipment manufacturers to share his expertise.

    Making accessibility the norm

    Part of Jason’s mission is to make accessibility ‘the norm’. He held an online workshop this year, called  “Normalising the Conversation – The Road to Accessible Music Tech”

    The title of the workshop reflects the difficulties that still exist when it comes to accessible music equipment. In a survey conducted in 2018, 63% of music retailers said they are not aware of any specialist products or adapted instruments for disabled people (Make Some Noise research, 2018), and only 25% of music educators felt that high street shops were adequate for their needs when it came to accessible music making.  The same research highlighted a lack of confidence and knowledge amongst music retailers when it comes to serving and catering to the needs of disabled customers. Jason believes that a little conversation and empathy can go a long way.

    “That’s the first thing, to get over that barrier of it being too sensitive a topic. I have made some of my best friends through people not knowing anything about how I am,” he says.

    “Once people get over the possibility of saying the wrong thing, it’s ok,” Jason says. “Because there isn’t really a wrong thing. If you don’t know, that’s perfectly acceptable! You’re not expected to know everything.

    “I think I have a duty, being blind- I think God made me blind for a reason – so we can do exactly what we’re doing now. My duty is to show people that hey, it’s cool! we’re a little different, we do things differently – you use a mouse, I use a keyboard… my motto is ‘inspiration, not obligation’ I want to inspire people and be inspired by them.”

    Being an inspiration

    Talking of being an ‘inspiration’, this is a word that’s divided opinion when used to describe disabled people – some have mentioned that they felt it was a patronising term, while others simply wish to be defined by their achievements alone, and not their disability.  Jason has his own take.

    “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, he says. “But I like to use the term ‘differently abled’ as opposed to ‘disabled’. Because I am not disabled. I’ve had a lot of push back on that statement, but I’m going to use it anyway. Because I do certain things a little differently. ‘Disabled’ [to me] means that I don’t do it, or I can’t. Which is not the case.

    “However you want to refer to it, people just need to be a little cautious. You don’t want to be someone that people walk on eggshells around. It’s ok, I make jokes about being blind, about myself. I might start a presentation by saying something like, ‘Forgive me, I don’t have my glasses today’ or something.

    “For me that breaks down barriers immediately. It makes people smile, and laugh. They let their guard down.”

    Photo of accessibility consultant and composer Jason Dasent, smiling to camera and wearing a grey shirt.
    “I think I have a duty, being blind- I think God made me blind for a reason – so we can do exactly what we’re doing now. My duty is to show people that hey, it’s cool! we’re a little different, we do things differently – you use a mouse, I use a keyboard… my motto is ‘inspiration, not obligation’ I want to inspire people and be inspired by them.”
    Jason Dasent (A brown, masculine adult with short black hair and wearing a black top) in Studio
    At the end of the day, I’m just Jay. I’m an open book, that’s the only way we will overcome challenges together. It’s perfectly ok to ask me anything, nothing is off limits.

    VIDEO: Watch as Jason Dasent demonstrates the production techniques that help him navigate his studio equipment

    Accessibility in retail – it’s good to talk

    A strong advocate for overcoming barriers and attitudes to disabled people’s musical experience, Jason is a supporter of the Disability Awareness Training course recently developed by Creative United, the MIA and Attitude is Everything.

    Although he has come across retailers who may not be used to dealing with the visually impaired, his shopping experiences have been very positive overall.

    “I guess this is because I always try to engage the sales staff by striking up conversation about the equipment I am interested in, going deep into the features etc. This lets them know that I am confident and very comfortable in this environment dealing with such equipment. I also talk to them about their own experiences in the music industry. This engagement puts everyone at ease and creates a relaxed atmosphere leading to the sales staff becoming very interested in what I do and they are willing to spend time with me exploring the equipment.”

    Jason has actually made lasting friendships with sales staff who he met at music stores.

    “At the end of the day, I’m just Jay. I’m an open book, that’s the only way we will overcome challenges together. It’s perfectly ok to ask me anything, nothing is off limits. That’s the way I’ve always lived my life and that’s what made me successful in what I do! So yeah, ask me anything! Because I’ll ask you anything!”

    More about Jason

  • Nathan Holder – diversity, music and the Why Books

    Nathan Holder - diversity, music and the Why Books

    Nathan Holder is a name that’s become synonymous with promoting diversity in music education. He works as a consultant and speaker within the sector to address bias and underrepresentation in music education resources, departments, hubs and boards. He was named International Chair in Music Education at the Royal Northern College of Music earlier this year, and he’s also recently been appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board at Music Teacher magazine.

    We’re honoured that he’s found time in his hectic schedule for a quick chat!


    Musician, author, speaker and music education consultant Nathan Holder is a passionate advocate for diversity in music education. Drawing on his own experiences as a student, musician and teacher, part of his mission is to help address bias, underrepresentation in music classrooms, departments, hubs and boards internationally.

    The books

    Nathan has become an accomplished author over the years, drawing on his early experiences in music to release the book I Wish I Did Not Quit…” in 2018 and then going on to launch the Why Music? series of music books, a beautifully illustrated collection that’s aimed at children and young people but is an incredibly engaging read for anyone who loves musical facts and history.

    A standout title is Why Is My Piano Black And White?  which is billed as the first children’s reference book all about the piano. What’s striking about it is the range of genres it covers, meaning that whatever your musical taste, there’s a section of the book for you – there aren’t many music reference books that reference hip hop, jazz and rock with equal enthusiasm.

    It’s also the one Nathan is most proud of. “It was the first under ‘Why Music?”, he says. “The decisions made when putting it all together, have been key in the direction that the other books have taken. But ultimately, it’s like asking me choose my favourite child!

    Another title, Where Are All The Black Female Composers? is the first children’s illustrated reference book all about Black female composers where you can learn about Nora Holt, Florence Price, and Errollyn Wallen, through fun facts, quizzes and a breakdown of the music that made them all great.

    Challenging the status quo

    These books all challenge many commonly held perceptions of music education, particularly the ones that certain genres are superior to others. On a recent trip to the music department at his old school, Nathan was struck by the fact that many of the learning resources and posters from his time there were still being used. .  This helped inspire him to create a range of posters with diverse images of composers from the worlds of jazz and classical music – including less known black and Asian women, alongside the more commonly seen Beethoven and Chopin.

    Nathan Holder. A bald, black, masculine adult with a black beard and wearing a blue top
    I think we’ve been told a specific narrative about which music is most important, and how that music should be learned
    A black person wearing a black top and jeans is holding "The Why?" books
    We are living within these colonised approaches which have seen many peoples and cultures ‘othered’ in the name of ‘quality’ and ‘tradition’. By starting to remove these barriers, one of the hopes is that people of any background can gain access, and learn about music which help them to make sense of their world and the people within it.

    Changes are happening

    With music being such a diverse art form, it’s strange to think that music education often struggles to fully reflect this – although things are beginning to change. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music has been criticised in the past for the lack of diversity in its syllabus.  According to a 2020 study by Austin Griffiths, a senior teaching fellow at University College London, 98.8 percent of the 3,166 pieces on the latest ABRSM exam syllabuses for 15 instruments were written by white people.

    Following an open letter by the Musicians’ Union and a petition on Change.org in 2020 calling for action, the ABRSM announced their Diversity and Inclusion programme to commit to a number of actions, including transforming their syllabus and commissioning new composers.

    This is all part of what Nathan refers to as the need to ‘decolonise’ music education. “I think we’ve been told a specific narrative about which music is most important, and how that music should be learned,” he says. “In addition to the decline in the amount of time and resources devoted to music education, addressing those balances has become more and more difficult, even as access to various styles of music and expression has increased.  We are living within these colonised approaches which have seen many peoples and cultures ‘othered’ in the name of ‘quality’ and ‘tradition’. By starting to remove these barriers, one of the hopes is that people of any background can gain access, and learn about music which help them to make sense of their world and the people within it.”

    Making music learning fun

    For those who like to learn in other ways, Nathan also has a “Why?” Podcast series that shines a spotlight on a wonderfully eclectic range of composers, from the Beach Boys to DJ Kool Herc to Sis Rosetta Tharpe.  We were curious to know how he chooses who to feature!

    “Sometimes I choose someone who means something to me, other times it’s someone (or a band) I don’t know much about,” Nathan says. “It’s all about learning and sharing, and a podcast is a great way to do that. We’ve had over 3600 downloads from all over the world since we launched in February, which I take to mean that it’s been well received!”

    More about Nathan

    The Why Books

  • 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 

  • How to maintain your piano

    How should I look after my piano?

    Have you seen the inside of a piano before? The sleek exterior is protecting the most beautiful and clever interior…
    In celebration of #WorldPianoDay, we’ve got some top tips in an super useful article from Take it away music shop member Piano Warehouse on how to maintain your piano and keep it at its best!
    Read on to find out how to look after your piano 🎹

    Piano maintenance and tuning are important factors to remember for the longevity of your piano. Pianos can behave differently when delivered or moved. Changing environments, temperatures and humidities can all affect the piano in different ways.

    Pianos are delicate instruments which need professional attention periodically. Basically there are two types of professional piano care: tuning and adjustment. Tuning means correcting the pitch of every note by retightening the strings. Each piano string is normally stretched to a pressure of about 90 kilograms (198.5 pounds), but eventually it will stretch further with use and lose some of its tension, causing the piano to lose its correct pitch.

    piano being tuned


    How often should you tune your piano?

    The strings need to be tuned once or twice a year to restore them to their proper tension.

    Adjustment involves the entire piano action, keyboard and pedal movements. Proper adjustment is especially important for grand pianos. Whether the piano will perform properly or not depends on how accurately the adjustment is made. Tuning and adjustment should be done by an expert. When your piano requires either one, ask your dealer or call a specialist. Your dealer can also advise you about the interval between adjustments for your piano under the circumstances in which it is used.

    Caring for you piano

    The piano is among the most versatile of musical instruments, but it is also one of the most complex and delicate. Pianos are extraordinarily rugged-built by a combination of traditional craftsmanship and advanced acoustic technology. But even the finest instrument needs proper care to give long life and dependable service. Please read this article carefully and follow its instructions, and you will be rewarded with years of pleasurable satisfaction.

    Piano playing Provide enough ventilation

    Pianos need ventilation, but the wrong kind of ventilation can damage them. The best location for your piano is in the centre of the room or against a wall, which divides two rooms. If possible, avoid placing it next to an exterior wall where outside weather conditions might cause tone quality and volume to suffer. If there is no other choice, however, at least make sure that the piano has adequate ventilation on all sides.

    Avoid windows

    Try not to place the piano near a window. Its cabinet is made of wood and must be protected against direct sunlight, humidity and sudden changes in temperature. Windows that open to the outside offer the least protection. If you must place the piano near a window use a heavy curtain over the window for protection.

    Avoid heat

    Keep the piano away from sources of heat such as radiators or hot air registers. They may damage the finish and internal parts causing tone and balance to deteriorate. Make sure that no radiant heat or hot air draft strikes the piano directly.

    Proper conditions = better sound

    Pianos work best and sound best when the temperature and humidity are right. Proper ventilation is also important. Generally speaking, a relative humidity of between 50 and 60 percent is ideal for pianos. The use of materials such as wood, felt and cloth in piano construction means that many parts are quite delicate. If not properly cared for, they can be damaged easily. Therefore we are unable to assume responsibility for damage resulting from abuse or harsh treatment.

    How does humidity affect a piano?

    Felt, cloth, leather and the precision wood parts – some of them machined to tolerances as fine as 1/100 mm – used in such critical parts of the piano as the action are extremely sensitive to humidity. Too much humidity will result in dull hammer action and unclear tones, rusting of internal parts and sticking keys. Before this happens the piano should be repaired.

    inside of piano

    How to protect again excessive moisture

    On cloudy or rainy days close all windows in the piano room. Also, be sure to close the top board each time after playing. The piano’s thick cloth cover absorbs moisture in damp or rainy weather and should be taken off and dried on clear days. Be especially careful about excessive moisture if you live in one of the following places:

    • Along a seacoast or in a rainy or humid region.
    • In a valley, in a house facing hills, or in an area with poor drainage.
    • In a concrete building not more than one or two years old.
    • In an area where air exhausts are directed into a room or in a dark, dank room.

    But also beware of excessive dryness

    Too much humidity is a problem, but excessive dryness is an even more serious one, especially where heating or cooling systems are used to create artificially dehumidified rooms. Used in naturally dry climates the piano has enough natural moisture to prevent excessive drying. However, if the air becomes too dry the wooden and felt components will shrink. In extreme cases, the soundboard, joints and other laminated sections may even come apart, even though they have been glued together carefully. Slight distortion of the parts may cause noise, and the tuning pins may work loose, making it difficult to keep the piano in tune. To avoid excessive dryness it is best to keep some kind of leafy plant or a humidifier in the piano room. 🌱

    Avoid sudden temperature changes 🌡

    When a cold room is warmed suddenly, moisture will condense on the piano strings and other metal parts, causing them to rust. Felt parts will absorb moisture, dulling their action and resulting in unclear sound. Be especially careful about sudden temperature changes when moving your piano into a room in a cold climate or into an airtight room in a concrete building.

    Put your piano where it sounds best

    The piano should be placed in a room where the sound will be evenly distributed. A room where all the sound gathers in one spot will produce sound lag and echoes. The best room for your piano is one in which its sound will reverberate to produce pleasant, full-bodied tones without harsh echo.

    Don’t place objects on top of the piano

    A heavy object may cause poor tone or noisy vibrations if placed on the piano. A vase of flowers may look attractive on the piano but if it should spill and water enter the piano serious damage can result. Water will rust the metal parts of the piano and damage the hammer and action. Avoid costly accidents and never place anything except sheet music or a metronome on the piano.

    Piano - Take it away Because music needs backing

    Avoid placing or spilling any of the following on the piano

    • Plastic products (except polyethylene)
    • Vinyl products
    • Anything containing alcohol
    • Liquids such as cosmetics, insecticides, any kind of aerosol, paint thinner or petroleum-based products

    Remember to dust and keep the keyboard clean!

    Dust can dull the hammer action and cause noise. Dust the piano frequently with a soft cloth or feather duster and wipe the finish with a soft cloth.

    The keyboard should be wiped periodically with a soft, dry cloth. Never use cleaners containing alcohol as the keys will become cracked. If the keyboard is very dirty, wipe it with a cloth dipped in a solution of soap and water and wrung out well. The same cloth should not be used for cleaning the surface of the piano, however. A good habit to cultivate is never to play the piano with dirty hands. That way the keyboard will stay clean for a long time.

    Piano Warehouse logo

    Piano Warehouse is a Take it away music shop member based in Surbiton that offers a wide range of pianos, repairs and more!

    Find out more and get in touch by visiting their website: piano-warehouse.co.uk

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • IWD | Musicians who inspired us to play

    #IWD - Musicians who inspired us to pick up an instrument

    This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the musicians who inspired and gave us confidence to play what are often seen as just ‘traditional’ musical instruments. 
    Encouragement comes from many places, from an approving nod from a stranger (or perhaps a nice comment on social media) to teachers, parents, peers, friends and siblings; those we trust and are closest to us are often our biggest supporters. 
    However, there’s something about seeing someone popular in the mainstream who you can relate to advocating and endorsing that thing you want to be doing. It makes us feel more assured that what we do will be positively received. 
    With this in mind, here are some of our favourite musicians who have inspired us and made us feel confident about picking up and playing our instruments. 

    Lizzo | FLUTE

    Lizzo’s flute playing went viral after her iconic performance BET awards. You may not know that she’s a classical trained flautist and she’s inspired so many people that beginner flute sales were boosted by a third in 2019! Her Flute is called Sasha also has it’s on Instagram account #ICONIC

    Watch her NPR Tiny Desk Concert here below.

    Lisa Simpson | SAXOPHONE 🎷

    Not all role models are real life people! Lisa is arguably the best Simpsons character. Summed up: “Her formidable intellect and insatiable thirst for knowledge make her a hero to brainy outcasts everywhere. She’s also been The Simpsons‘ moral compass as well, helping to ground her family’s more outlandish adventures in common sense and decency.”

    Here’s Lisa and her idol who gave her his Sax playing together:

    Alicia Keys | PIANO 🎹

    Alicia Keys is an inspiration in more was then one but those instantly recognisable opening notes in If Ain’t Got You falling down the chord never cease to make you stop and listen. 

    Did you know Alicia started learning the piano aged 7? Watch below as she is gives a piano lesson and shares the story behind one of her most well known and moving songs. On a more classical side, here’s Alicia playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in honour of Kobe Bryant. 

    Nicola Benedetti | VIOLIN 🎻

    Nicola was born in Scotland and won BBC Young Musician of the year when she was just 16 and has gone on to inspire and encourage music education across the world! 

    Watch her famous rendition of the Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams below. She’s got some great tutorials on YouTube which are soon to be added to.

    Shelia Maurice-Grey | TRUMPET 🎺

    Shelia aka Ms Grey is bandleader of KOKOROKO and has performed with the likes of Solange, Kano and Little Simz and studied at Trinity Laban. For a long time, brass instruments have been seen as a ‘male’ instrument and we LOVE that Shelia is breaking down that preconception. 

    In 2018, a Telegraph article reported that Anne McAneney of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was the only female trumpet player in the world’s top 20 orchestras. This was a couple of years ago but there’s still lots of work to be done in encouraging more women to play brass instruments. 

    Here’s Shelia playing for Jazz re:freshed in 2018:

    Laura Marling | GUITAR 🎸

    It’s Laura’s effortless and often stark simplicity of what is most often just her voice accompanied by a guitar that made us want to pick up the guitar.

    She has recently shared lots of amazing tutorials recently over on her Instagram. Watch her NPR Tiny ‘Home’ Desk concert below.

    We would absolutely love to hear about the women in music who inspired you! Tell us on Instagram or Twitter @TakeitawayMusic

  • The History of the Piano – Markson Pianos

    The History of the Piano - Markson Pianos

    Have you ever wondered how the piano was invented? Or what the differences between a clavichord, harpsichord and a piano are?
    Us too! Take it away retailer Markson Pianos has put together a very interesting article on the origins of this majestic instrument…

    Origins of the piano

    The piano has a rich and storied history dating back centuries, but this history is founded on developments that go back millennia to instruments constructed in the time of the Roman Empire.

    Flow chart showing how different instruments influenced the modern piano

    The earliest origins of the piano lie in the monochord family of instruments, which can range greatly in complexity from rudimentary guitars all the way to the development of the Clavichord.


    Photo of a ClavichordThe history of keyboard style instruments started with the organ, but the Clavichord represented the first step from the organ to the modern piano. Emerging in the renaissance, the Clavichord represented a highly complex monochord instrument that bears striking aesthetic similarities to modern pianos.

    The key distinction at work though is that Clavichord’s generate sound by striking the string with a brass rod instead of a hammer. The Clavichord was a technically impressive instrument that allowed a great degree of control over the note by making the string vibrate as long as the key was pressed, however it suffered from a delicate tone that would be drowned out by other instruments, and couldn’t adequately fill a large hall performance.


    Photo of a HarpsichordThe Harpsichord was developed around the 1500’s in Italy, roughly a century after the Clavichord. Instead of the brass rod method, the Harpsichord worked by plucking the string with a plectrum attached to a long stick of wood.

    The design of the Harpsichord obviously heavily influenced the design of the modern piano, the internal system of strings and the overall structure bear a striking resemblance.  The Harpsichord improved on the delicacy of the Clavichord by having a rich full sound that could easily stand amongst other instruments but lacked the ability to control the dynamics of each note, reducing the technical ability achievable.


    Painting of Bartolomeo CristoforiThe modern piano is generally agreed to have been invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) sometime around 1700. He was famously unhappy with the lack of control the Harpsichord offered and sought to marry the bombastic sound of the Harpsichord with the precision and control of the Clavichord.

    His creation of the modern piano hinged on his ingenious design of using a hammer instead of a plucking mechanism, which could then return to its resting position instantly. This was the fundamental problem that plagued the Clavichord, the tangent remained in contact with the string which dampened the sound. By creating this system of fast resetting hammers it ensured that the notes would be able to breathe as well as being rapidly played in succession, creating the degree of power and precision that is known and enjoyed today.

    Markson Pianos are a Take it away music shop member based in London who offer:

    • Piano restoration
    • Piano Tuning
    • Long term hire
    • Event hire
    • And of course sell a range of pianos including upright, grand, digital and acoustic!

    Find out more and get in touch by visiting their website: marksonpianos.com

    Markson Pianos logo

  • 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