The son of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Howard spent much of his childhood abroad, first in India, where he received his first violin lesson, and later in Latin America, where he studied classical guitar. He began repairing stringed instruments as a hobby, and soon left his job as a systems analyst to open a full-time stringed instrument repair business in upstate New York in 1975.
In 1981, he accepted a position with a now-defunct violin shop in Washington, DC, where he remained until leaving to establish his own business in Bethesda, MD in 1985. In 1999, he began a collaboration with Geary Baese, a researcher known for his publications on the subject of eighteenth century classical violin varnish.
He moved to Prescott, Arizona in 2000, where, inspired by some of Mr. Baese's theories of Cremonese instrument making, he further refined his approach to violinmaking. He returned to the Washington area in 2004, and currently resides in Silver Spring, MD, where he makes and repairs violins, violas and cellos.
Howard was featured on September 7, 2012 in The Washington Post: For violin maker Howard Needham, a rarefied world >>.