I have this thing for musical instruments. If you came into my home you would find a collection of instruments, some of which I actually play, and some which I have only attempted a time or two. There is something about them that fascinates me. Perhaps it has something to do with the mechanics of how they work, but I think the biggest part is simply that I love the sounds that come out of them. I love that a person can pick up an instrument and suddenly, they are able to express thoughts and feelings they have never expressed in that way before…it doesn’t even require the use of words. It is the music that comes out of the instrument; the growing and fading dynamics, the heart-wrenching melodies that waft over the air. It is this love of instruments, and particularly my love of pianos that has led me to take on a new project; to learn a new trade.
I am going to learn how to tune and repair pianos.
Yes, pianos…the instruments that have 88 black and white keys, and 230 strings on the soundboard. It is quite an undertaking, but it is oh so fascinating! And one of the best parts is that I get to chronicle and share this learning experience with you!
For the last several years I have considered the idea of learning to do piano repair work, but it all started this past January when I had my own piano tuned. My dear friend had referred me to her tuner, but warned me: “I don’t think he is taking new clients right now…but if you give him my name, he may be willing to work you into his schedule. He has been tuning my pianos for ages.” Well, I dropped my friend’s name and thankfully he worked me into his schedule.
As the tuner was working on my piano, he directed me to open up a binder containing various brochures and pamphlets about different aspects of piano repair, so that I could understand the terms he used when discussing my instrument. As I perused, a thought came to mind: “Hey, do you know of anyone who might take on an apprentice or intern? I am really interested in learning how to do this kind of work.”
He looked at me, eyebrows raised, smile on his face, and arms spread wide.
“You?” I asked.
“Why yes indeed! I already have a couple other interns I work with. I would be happy to teach you what I know.”
And so it began.
He would order a tuning hammer and a couple other small tools for me, and we would meet again once he had everything together. In the meantime, I was to find a piano that I could work on. While my current piano needs plenty of repairs, he informed me that it would not be a good instrument to learn on. My job was to find an old upright piano that needed some work done to it, and find SOMEWHERE in my house to put it.