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Topic Options
#2058672 - 04/03/13 11:43 AM a job as piano technician
luludji Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 2

Hi everyone!

I’m new to this forum, so let me first introduce myself : I’m Julie, a French piano technician, currently working at the Pleyel company (French piano firm founded in 1807). I’m writing on this forum because I’m now facing a bit of a situation.

Here is the thing: By fall 2013, my fiancé is going to study at the University of Rochester (in Rochester, NY) for at least year, but most likely 4 or 5. I’ve decided to come to settle down in the Rochester area with him, and I really would like to take advantage of this situation to broaden my knowledge on piano by having an international experience, and thus to continue to work as a piano technician while I’m in the USA. I would like to know if you guys had any advice for a foreign piano technician that plan to come and work in the Rochester area. What do you think would be the best way to find this kind of job in the USA ? I’m also interested in any information regarding how to properly search for a piano technician job when you’re an immigrant in the USA (I mean, legally).

Thanks in advance for any piece of advice you could give me!


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#2058677 - 04/03/13 11:58 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3489
If you want to work as a tech over here, you will probably have to start your own tuning business. Most of us are self employed.

#2058692 - 04/03/13 12:33 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
tend to rush Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 168
I presume the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, has a tuner/technician of it's own, but it might be worth asking there. They might be able to offer advice, even if they had no openings.

#2058698 - 04/03/13 12:47 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2481
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Provided you have a work visa, there should be no issues in setting up your own private business in the area. I live about an hour away from Rochester on the Canadian side of the border and visit the area a few times of the year. Many of the technicians in the area actually service outside the main city also because it is very conveniently located along an interstate highway. An automobile is a must, this area does not have the type of public transit you are likely used to in Europe.
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

Piano & Music Accessories
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#2058700 - 04/03/13 12:49 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1620
Loc: Michigan
My son went to Univ of Rochester. Actually the Eastman School is part of UR.

It will not be legal for you to work in the US without the appropriate visa. Certainly, you can't be employed without the appropriate documentation. Perhaps self-employment can at least go under the radar.

The technician at Eastman could certainly direct you. Also, it would be helpful for you to meet with the local chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild. Here in our country, there is generally a collaborative or cooperative attitude among piano technicians. Info at www.ptg.org

Good luck and bienvenue aux Etats-Unis!
Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

#2058713 - 04/03/13 01:12 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
oldiebutnewbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/21/10
Posts: 65
Bonjour, Julie!!

I am not a piano technician, but - in addition to the thoughtful advice already posted - I advise you to acquire an abundant supply of very warm clothing.

#2058724 - 04/03/13 01:26 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
The Eastman School of Music in Rochester has a number of technicians. Getting work at such an institution, if and when an opening should come up, would be hotly contested and very difficult to get.

However, it would be a good place to start to ask a few questions, and make some connections with high level piano technicians.

Building up a business being self employed takes a number of years and a lot of effort. I cannot see it being very worthwhile if someone only plans to stay for a few years. But perhaps there are freelance opportunities doing some work for piano stores or filling in for local technicians etc.

I am not sure what Rochester is like now, but a number of years ago when Kodak was sideswiped by digital photography, the city took an enormous economical hit. Back then it did not look like the economy would rebound soon. Perhaps others closer by know more.

My point is that piano work is a non-essential service for most clients. Once the economy starts to tank, businesses such as ours are among the first to feel it.
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

#2058725 - 04/03/13 01:26 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
David Boyce Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 962
Loc: Scotland
Et Julie, qui va prendre votre travail à Pleyel?? Moi j'aimerai bien vivre en france.....

#2058734 - 04/03/13 01:36 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
rXd Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 2431
Yes. Schools of music often need additional help.

I have done what you plan to do several times in many parts of the 'States and elsewhere and have found that offering my services to a reputable piano dealer has always given me a good start, if not an immediate full time job.

Remember 'There is always room at the top'.

European training is a good selling point.
Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.

#2058813 - 04/03/13 04:53 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Georgia, USA
Welcome, Julie

The advice so far has been excellent. The more networking contacts you can build before you arrive, the better. Does France have an equivalent to our PTG - Piano Technicians Guild? This organization is not a union. Also, it is not a Guild in the old European sense. It is a professional association with a strong educational component which does provide a voluntary certification program. In some cities, the PTG is an important issue. In others not so much, especially smaller cities and rural areas. Your involvement in any similar certification would be helpful with PTG folks.

One critical point which will come up in the minds of potential employers here is related to your work experience. Doing regulation, tuning, and other post-manufacture adjustments, etc. in a manufacturing plant is quite different from field service. (I am sure you already know this.) If you do not have field service experience, try to begin that post haste, like right now, to be completely redundant.

For example, if you can begin to work with a shop in addition to your present job, do it. If you can arrange a co-op arrangement, where you convince Pleyel to allow you to broaden your experience with outside work, or work for a dealer one day per week, do that.

Most technicians here with a deep customer base have customers with pianos which need rebuild work. The challenge for many of us is finding the time to get that sort of work done. If you come here ready to help with that need, you will be far ahead of the game. I could use that sort of help, but, alas, I am 800+ miles from that area of New York state. Of course, you can begin to scout for customers of your own, and you can offer to do store tunings - but offer to do those very cheaply, if you want to get your foot in the door both with a piano dealer and with the customers of that dealer. Times are VERY tough for most new piano dealers here.

P.S. On a lighter note, your accent is really going to help. Forewarn your fiancé, however, you may get unexpected reactions to your "sweet talk" (as we might call it down here in the South) when you didn't even think you were sweet talking.

3heartsTell him to buy you a big engagement ring.
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

#2059438 - 04/04/13 05:52 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: David Boyce]
Herr Weiss Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 294
Loc: New York, N.Y.
Originally Posted By: David Boyce
Et Julie, qui va prendre votre travail à Pleyel?? Moi j'aimerai bien vivre en france.....


Many years ago, way back in '79, in my first visit to Paris, I found myself inside a Piano store in one of their practice rooms. Students pay hourly for a small soundproof room with a big Upright. My piano was...voila..a Pleyel.
The sound that this beat-up piano had was just Magnifique!!!
I will never forget it.

So, Go for it, David!! All the best, H.W.
"Respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment."
-Lao Tzu

#2059520 - 04/04/13 11:30 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Dave B Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2577
Loc: Philadelphia area
Most metropolitan areas have French cultural institutions and schools,and some retailers can be helpful with making contacts and getting leads.

Sharpen your business skills; The best technicians rarely get the best jobs, there are taxes etc., and you always want to carry liability insurance.

Edited by Dave B (04/04/13 11:36 PM)
"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams

#2059708 - 04/05/13 09:30 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4263
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Once the paperwork is in place the only obstacle I can see is when a placement comes up if there is an American that can do the job, they would receive priority over anyone else.

It is the same here in Canada. As previously stated I would not want to see the loss of a permanent or semi-permanent position in the home country.

Best of luck with the search and whatever is decided.
Dan Silverwood
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

#2060205 - 04/06/13 05:59 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
luludji Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 2
Thank you very much for all your answers.
Your advice is precious and I'm so exited to come.
I sent an e-mail to PTG. (We have the same in France.It is AFARP,Europiano and I take part in.) I'm waiting for their answer.
I will offer my candidature for a position in piano stores because I believe it would be difficult to have my own business. Piano dealers have technicians in their stores, don't they?
In France, it is pretty much the same, the piano market in not in progress. Pleyel don't have so much work and it is also for this reason that I quit them. You can try with piano dealers in Paris or in others big city and establish a contact with AFARP.
Otherwise, I will try to found a job in New York city.
What do you think about Steinway factory?

I won't forget to bring warm clothes and to ask a big ring to my fiancé!

Edited by luludji (04/06/13 08:33 AM)

#2060250 - 04/06/13 08:54 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Working at S&S-NY would certainly be an excellent resume credit. There are many fine rebuilding shops in the greater metropolitan area which could also be options. It is a long way from Rochester, however.
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

#2060287 - 04/06/13 10:19 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: Minnesota Marty]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Working at S&S-NY would certainly be an excellent resume credit. There are many fine rebuilding shops in the greater metropolitan area which could also be options. It is a long way from Rochester, however.

A long way - 360 miles and a lot of traffic.
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

#2060296 - 04/06/13 10:47 AM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: luludji]
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 9230
Loc: France
Fonce Julie ! tu va etre débordée de travail !

I suggest you could talk with some manufacturers representatives

All depend of your level of efficiency , in what areas of the job you can work.

But the basic diploma plus factory training is enough to be appreciated in my opinion. Then I certainly think you may have some added value to sell.

Best of luck
Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!

#2060338 - 04/06/13 12:10 PM Re: a job as piano technician [Re: Olek]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 246
Loc: Georgia, USA
Ah, the rudiments of a strategy:

Get your papers and recommendations together.

Since you are in France, demonstrate your abilities to Isaac Oleg.

Get a recommendation from him to add to the others.

Then, we at PW will vouch strenuously for you, too!

Honestly, many shops may react similarly to me: If someone who could do the work showed up in my area, they would be put to work! Retail sales are down, but service and rebuilding are still needed; perhaps it is even increasing. Be encouraged! When the new costs too much, the old must be repaired! And... bonne chance!
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration


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