Woodwind-makers need good hands and love of music

Recorder-maker Etienne Holmblat is self-taught but his high-end musical instruments are now sold all over Europe.

Mr Holmblat, 62, learned the basic techniques when he studied mechanics and draughtsmanship at school and on an instrument repair course – then went on to develop much of his art by trial, error and persistence.

He fell into the business as a young man when a flute he was learning to play needed
expensive repairs and his teacher suggested he fix it himself. He went on to get a qualification to mend instruments and opened his shop in Pau, in the Pyrénées Atlantiques.

His love of the recorder also came from his teacher.

He said: “One day he gave me a disc of someone playing the recorder. It was a revelation. I instantly fell in love with this instrument.”

So he started making them: “The first one was a simple, ...

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