Introducing our Clarinet & Bassoon Technician Paul, Clarinet Technician Richard, Woodwind Technician Donald and Saxophone Technician Craig.
Our Repair Team are based in our London Showrooms on Chiltern Street. They are a highly trained, experienced, and skilled team who repair, service and overhaul your bassoons, clarinets, saxophones, and oboes, they also make bespoke alterations!
Learn more about the team, what drew them to the career, what their other hobbies are, what their most memorable concert was and more.
How long have you been working at Howarth?
Paul: 40 years
Richard: 18 years
Donald: Almost 5 years
Craig: Almost a year
Dora: 3 years as staff morale officer!
Do you play an instrument yourself? Why did you choose it?
R: Clarinet; a pair of Buffet R13 Prestige’s. Because R13s were industry standard, and Prestige in the hope that the wood would be less likely to split.
P: Not now – played brass instruments (except trombone) and had a flirtation with the clarinet.
What drew you to instrument repair as a career?
D: I grew up watching my father making bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes specifically, in the workshops that always accompanied the houses he inhabited. All against better advice, I decided to follow my father in the pursuit of the great whale of woodwind understanding and in young adulthood I dedicated a number of years to acquiring the skills of smallpipe making, learning all I could from my father.
With the spark of curiosity now out of all reasonable containment I took up study at the well established Newark School Instrument Making where my interest expanded throughout the range of orchestral woodwinds as well as the rudiments of violin making.
Upon graduating Newark in 2017 I sought out employment at Howarth, being the best place to be to learn the art of instrument making and repair. Since beginning work at Howarth I have been lucky to have gained some experience in all parts of oboe making; from pillaring, springing, and mounting in the key making department; padding, corking and fettling in the finishing department along with a few months happily spent in the woodwork department. I am now working in the repair department of the London shop where I have had the pleasure of working on woodwind instruments of all possible shapes and sizes.
I have benefitted from the training of a number of master craftsmen and woodwind artisans, with a collective experience of centuries. I would like to think at least a little of that woodwind wisdom has rubbed off on me.
C: I first became interested in repairing after having some ‘tutorials’ with a repairer called Anton Bourdillon. After being left to my own devices to work out repairs on all manner of instruments at Kent Music, I honed my craft repairing saxophones, gaining knowledge from repairer Amy Craig. I find the challenge of working out a repair very rewarding.
P: It’s a practical job, I liked taking things to pieces, I found playing instruments fairly easy.
What have you learnt/interesting thing you have seen from working at Howarth?
C: The thing I love about being a saxophone technician is no, one job is ever completely the same. It makes every day an interesting one!
P: How to make a clarinet mouthpiece and almost everything I know about bassoon and clarinet repairing from the late Jon Steward with whom I worked with 20 years before his retirement.
R: The outward appearance of a clarinet is no guide as to how well it plays.
Most memorable concert or gig you have ever attended?
C: GoGo Penguin live at Love Supreme festival.
P: Captain Beefheart at Loughborough University.
Favourite piece of music?
R: Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante – the Violin and Viola one (no clarinets).
Favourite venue you have played in?
R: The Royal Albert Hall.
R: Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim.
P: Anything Italian.
C: Carbs and more carbs.
Dora: Chicken! Also sausages, I like assessing staff breakfasts when I come in.
C: Running – that’ll explain the carbs.
Dora: Playing with a squeaky ball and chasing anything!
R: Amateur orchestral clarinet player.
Best thing about living/working in London?
R: Plenty of good amateur playing opportunities available.
Recommendation to do/see/eat in London
C: Evans & Peel Detective Agency – order an old fashioned and you won’t be disappointed.