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Piano Technology at FSU

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Published on Feb 25, 2008

Check out what is inside a piano at wfsu.org/keysandhammers!

The piano is a cornerstone instrument in Western music, as well as being the most technologically complex. Maintaining pianos is the job of the piano technician, who is part carpenter, part engineer, and part musician. It's not a job a lot of people set out to do, but is one that is crucial to keeping these elegant instruments making beautiful music. For the most part, a technician falls into the job "accidentally," following a circuitous, nonlinear path.

Florida State University has made the path a little more linear with its new Master of Arts program in Piano Technology. Under the direction of Anne Garee (FSU's Director of Piano Technology), two students get intensive training- responsible for upkeep of 50 pianos each, as well as historical keyboard instruments like harpsichords and forte pianos. In addition to these duties, Amy Porter and Jen Roberts had to restore a 1954 Mason & Hamlin grand piano.

Florida State University is an ideal location for the program, with a top music school featuring talented students and musicians and with hundreds of concerts held yearly. Two hundred and forty pianos grace classrooms and concert halls. Pianos have to be kept in shape for performances featuring Grammy award winning faculty like Marcus Roberts, distinguished visitors like Chick Corea, or for national television shows like Peanuts Gallery (featuring music composed by Pulitzer Prize winning alumnus Ellen Taaffe Zwilich no less).

In this video, you'll see some of the restoration that started in Fall of '06 and was just completed in February of 2008. You'll also hear the piano being tested out by FSU graduate student Xu Hui. It's a fascinating look into an aspect of music that not a lot of people get to see.

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