Piano Technician

香港的鋼琴調音師

Female Piano Tuner / Technician in Hong Kong

在美國生活了十二年,當初從作曲,上演作品的時候開始接觸到舞台背後的不同工作。才知道成功的演出是全靠後台各種各樣的技術支援;才知道鋼琴好聽是全靠調音師在每場演出前的為鋼琴精心調音和準備。

After living in the United States for 12 years, started as a composition student, working many jobs on backstage: stage managing, recording, ushering… I found the work of a piano technician very interesting. I decided to pursue the one thing I couldn’t yet do – to prepare the concert piano.

因為出身作曲和古典音樂,我除了會做所有調音師做的事情,還會把創意放到鋼琴工作上,如設計鋼琴工具,用太鼓的馬步來調音。我雖然很男性化,但身為女生沒有男性那麼力大。因此做這種體力活一定得了解怎樣有效地運用自己的力量,免得受傷。因為自己有認真修練日本太鼓十年,所以明白到不能用蠻力的道理。從我周遊列國時可遇到不少女生幹這一行。調音才不是男生的專利!

Besides doing what every piano technician does, I am interested in incorporating other disciplines with piano technology. I certainly have the skills and knowledge to compose for and to execute the prepared piano now. I also combine taiko kata (posture) with piano tuning. As a female, I recognize that I am biologically not as strong as male. However, with skills and efficient posture, it is entirely possible for female to tune smartly without the same brute power of men. I have met many female piano technicians in other countries. This is definitely not a male-only profession.

視乎四季氣候,家用的鋼琴一年調1-4次不等。這樣的話,調音師可以輕易為鋼琴的木材和布料因濕度和溫度的變化做調整-即是調音和維修! 雖說一年最好調兩次;調多調少,其實也視乎琴主有多在乎自己的鋼琴吧。身為調音師,我只能說,鋼琴的變化(例如音準)是一定會日即月累的。所以很久才調一次琴的話,只是把調音和維修的工作量(即費用)累積。再說,要是鋼琴裡的零件出問題而不及早修理的話,小問題好可能變成大問題啊!長遠來說,這樣對鋼琴真的不太好。

Depending on the climate, piano technicians recommend home piano owners to have their instrument tuned 1-4 times a year. In this way, the changes from temperature and humidity of a piano would be very manageable. Of course, it is up to the owner to decide how often they would like to hire a piano technician. All I can say is that, the changes will accumulate; therefore it will take a piano technician longer to maintain a piano if it has not been worked on for years, resulting a higher cost. Moreover, if there were problems, it might grow from small to bigger problems throughout a long time. Then if the piano were fortunate enough not to suffer from permanent damage, the repair fee would be more expensive as well.

我在美國有很好的老師,他們都盡心盡力地維修音樂學院的鋼琴。因為音樂學院裡的老師和學生都是專業音樂家,要求很高,所以在那裡學習和工作對我這本來是作曲專業出身的人是非常適合。我很了解音樂學院怎麼運作,也了解老師和學生的需要-這也是我為什麼對自己有很高的要求。

I have had good teachers in the United States, they are hardworking piano technicians of universities. Since music school faculty and students are all professionals, their high standard to me is challenging and intriguing. As a professional trained musician myself, I understand how music schools are run, what faculty and students need. I speak their “language”, which is particularly useful.

調音需時多久是因琴和用家而異,一般大概1-2小時不等。調得快不一定好,調得久亦不一定是調音師沒能力。不是比賽嘛~用合適的調音app很貴,但可以縮短調音需時,亦不一定等於調音師不會用耳朵調音。我自己一般都是用耳朵調音,快有快的調,嘈吵環境下我也能奏合調。不趕的話就不用急… 調好一點,血壓也低一點(雖然我還很年青)。

Duration of each service depends on the piano and their owners. Normally it takes 1-2 hours. Sometimes it takes less time; if it takes longer, it doesn’t mean that the piano technician is not skillful enough. It’s not a race anyway. One could shorten his or her tuning time by using appropriate tuning app, it doesn’t mean the piano technician cannot tune aurally. I usually tune by ear, could tune faster or in noisy environment if necessary. Otherwise, I’d rather take my time to do a better tuning, so to maintain proper my blood pressure (even though I am still very young).

In short

  • I perform aural tuning, regulation, voicing, repair, and maintenance.
  • Familiar with university/ conservatory settings, especially working with professional musicians and music students.
  • Experience in historical keyboard tuning and maintenance, with knowledge tuning unequal temperament aurally.
  • Experience in basic woodworking with hand tools and power tools.
  • Refer to my profile for more details!
  • Sometimes I write blog post on piano technology.

Professional Experience

Major Training

  • 4-week Practicum ’19 at Carl Sauter Piano Factory (Spaichigen, Germany)
    • Mentor: Hermann Kaufmann (Klavierbaumeister – Master Piano Builder)
  • Master of Arts in Piano Technology ’19 at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL, USA)
    • Mentor: Dr. Li Yeoh, MPT, Bruce Hargabus
  • Advance Music Studies in Piano Maintenance ’17 at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
    • Mentor: Peter Stumpf, RPT
  • Mentors for historical keyboard maintenance
    • Edward Kottick, Richard Hester, Maki Masayuki, Barbara Wolf, Alan Winkler, Dale Munschy, Claire Hammett

Research Interests

  • Original piano tool design
  • Historical keyboard instruments
    • maintenance
    • conservation & restoration
    • education for performer and technician
    • historical research, including provenance and genealogy
  • History and design of piano tuning levers
  • Ergonomics and posture of piano tuning