Learn To Play Day 2012 – Howarth of London

Saturday 31st March was the first annual ‘National Learn To Play Day’

supported by Music for All

“There are 15 million people in the UK that either want to play an instrument or used to play one. The Day is designed to welcome people into music shops and to inspire them to get playing. People are often surprised to discover that they ARE musical and simply need a musical “experience” to get them inspired to start playing”

Howarth of London was one of the nationwide hosting venues, providing  free lessons on oboe, bassoon, saxophone and clarinet. We were supported by London based music teachers, allowing the staff to give additional guidance on getting started learning to play music.

The Teachers

Geoff Coates 


Geoff Coates studied at the Guildhall School of Music and has been described as “an excellent soloist that has a warm and flexible tone with a lovely burnished quality” www.theclassicalshop.net

Matt Telfer


Matt Telfer started playing sax in his teenage years. Since living in London Matt has studied with and had Guidance form some of the worlds leading jazz musicians including Tim Garland, Bob Mintzer, Toni Kofi, Dave O’Higgins, Courtney Pine and Phil Woods.  www.matttelfer.com

Catherine Shrubshall


A leading jazz saxophonist based in London. Catherine can be found with – ”The Powdered Rhino Horns’ . As a brother and sister team, the Shrubshall’s make an entire horn section between them; with Pete playing Tenor and Soprano sax as well as a variety of flutes, and Cathy playing Alto and Bari sax, clarinet, harmonica and recorder. They create their massive section sound by doing overdubs, which are repetitive recordings that are later mixed together by engineers. The Shrubshall’s horn section was the backbone of Izit, a band that they formed with rhythm help and vocalists. www.epinions.com

Richard Russell


Richard Russell (clarinet) is from Linlithgow, near Edinburgh, and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music where he won the Muriel Berry Award and prizes for chamber music, graduating with first class honours and the prestigious PPRNCM recital diploma. He was then a postgraduate scholar, followed by a year as woodwind fellow, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

As an orchestral player, Richard trained with the London Philharmonic Orchestra through their “Future Firsts” apprenticeship scheme and spent a year as co-principal clarinet with Southbank Sinfonia. Since then he has performed with many of the U.K.’s leading orchestras, most recently the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. www.richardrussellclarinet.com

Howard Dann


Howard began learning the bassoon at the age of 10 with his father, from whom he inherited a love of the French bassoon. He spent his early years growing up in Suffolk, where he was an active participant with Suffolk Youth Music, enjoying 4 years as principal bassoon with the Suffolk Youth Orchestra. Howard did his undergraduate studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where his bassoon teachers were Robert Codd and Steve Marsden. Whilst living in Cardiff, Howard played regularly with Sinfonia Cymru, Swansea City Opera and Emerald Ensemble. He also enjoyed giving the odd drum lesson here and there!

In 2006 came a move to London and the full time post of bassoon specialist for ‘Howarth of London,’ which helped him grow a much wider knowledge of his instrument and the music profession. In 2008/09 he studied for a post graduate diploma at the Royal College of Music, with Martin Gatt, where he won the June Emerson ‘Launchpad Prize’ for chamber music. http://www.reverbnation.com/howarddann

The day was a great success, everyone who participated said it was a great day and had a lot of fun. We had quite a number of participants which lead to new rentals on instruments, a sale of a bassoon to a lady who is studying for her PGCE and needed second study instrument!

It was also exciting to meet a few of our @howarthoflondon twitter followers who made an appearance to experience new instruments and to say hello! It was lovely to speak the people we have been interacting with over the past few months.

We have some lovely photographs from the day that our photographer Adrian Snood took to document the day.

Most of the excitement was generated from the chance to win a saxophone in the Howarth Competition! The proud winner of the Trevor James Alto Saxophone is a lady called Gill Denniss who had a great afternoon last week coming in to collect it and have a second lesson!


“I bought a clarinet 30 years before I retired but it sat in a cupboard. After I retired I went with my friend for lessons at City Lit. When I play music it feels as if I’m in another place. The sound feels like you are flying away from all the other stresses in life. What motivation to learn the saxophone!” Gill Denniss

Maddie & Olivia, our specialists decided they would go out on the nearby Baker Street for a while to see if they could persuade some more people to come and have a go! They had success! They managed to get one lady, a family of three and another gentleman to come along and have a few lessons on all the instruments!

                      Olivia & Maddie Howarth of London

Over all I think it was a great day, great atmosphere and we had a wide range people, of all ages came along. We found that despite lots of children wanting to try new instruments, it was the adults that made the biggest contribution! There were lots of stories about people starting as a child and never carried on or how some had always been too scared to try!

We hope that the Learn to Play Day went some way to breaking down those barriers that prevent people from getting involved in music!

If you are thinking about taking up an instrument or would like to give an instrument a go to see if it right for you then please do not hesitate to get in contact on any day! All our staff are specialists on their own instruments and are able to give advice and tutoring to customers on a daily basis outside of national events! We also keep a teachers list to give out to our teacher seeking customers!

Howarth of London would like to thank the teachers, photographers, staff, MFA and participants for making the National Learn to Play Day a success.


020 7935 2407


About Howarth of London

Woodwind Specialists - Howarth are leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones and flutes. Makers of fine oboes, cors anglais & oboes d'amore.
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