Spring 2024 A lot of my old friends have pianos. Some of my old friends ARE pianos! Recently I caught up with one of my old piano friends, in fact the very oldest in my clientele. In 1990, 34 years ago, just after I had opened my piano repair business in Nanaimo, a tall, dignified gentleman entered my shop and said, “I would like you to come to my home to tune our piano”. What surprised me was that when I made the service call, I found that the piano in question was a vintage Knake baby grand, made in Münster, Germany. This was a rare coincidence. Ten years earlier I had entered into my apprenticeship to become a piano maker in a town not far from Münster. Knake pianos were a staple in our shop, I literally “grew up” working on them. Of course, in Canada, especially on the West Coast, it is a virtually unknown make. Over the past 30+ years I have only come across one other Knake in this area. So 34 years ago, two long term relationships were initiated: one with the piano owner and one with the piano. I continued to service the Knake every couple of years for a long time, until the owner’s circumstances changed and the piano was re-homed to a local Church congregation.
It was a happy reunion and I was pleased to be able to tune the old girl to get her ready for more music making. I would like to believe the sentiments were mutual.
I have decided to scale back my piano tuning and repair availability to enable me to move towards part-time retirement. I will still be tuning and servicing pianos throughout the mid-Vancouver Island region, but I will only be booking in tunings two (2) days per week. Please contact me VERY early if you wish to have your piano tuned by a particular date, or for a particular event. Generally, I will be booking appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays through fall 2022.
I am also happy to announce the sale of my piano technician supply business (Piano Forte Supply.) I have spent 18 years selling top-quality piano tools and supplies to thousands of piano technicians all over the world. I found this work to be a constant learning experience, creating strong friendships and relationships with colleagues all over the world…and it was incredibly rewarding, although a lot of work! I have now passed on the business to a skilled team of piano technicians in Modesto, California.
Don’t worry…in “semi-retirement”, I won’t be less busy than before! I have a host of my own rare, unique, and historical instruments that I want to re-build and re-finish…some of which have been waiting 30 years for me to have more time! On to new things….!
We are back into busy times for piano tuning and servicing on Vancouver Island. This spring I will be tuning for numerous piano teaching studios, recording studios, theatres, and churches. I have a limited availability, so please contact me well in advance if you would like to book a piano tuning. I tune pianos in most mid-island areas, from Duncan, Ladysmith and Chemainus, to Nanoose, Errington, and Parksville…and everything in between!
I will be taking some time off this summer to hosts guests from Europe and enjoy travelling all over Vancouver Island with them. However, I will still be working for one of my favourite festivals: the Hornby Island Music Festival, www.hornbyfest.com
This year I will be on Hornby Island at the start of August, tuning and preparing the piano for the classical performances of “Kaimerata” at the Hornby Community Hall on August 5th and 6th. They will be playing some wonderful string and piano chamber music, including the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata and the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio. The lovely Bechstein Grand piano will get a good workout!
I have been travelling north for 20 years of annual piano servicing to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories of Canada. I have made incredible connections with clients and artists there, and have had many memorable experiences. (See my article “Tuning North of 60 degrees latitude”). This year however, I have decided to pass on the torch to another (younger!) piano technician who will be taking over this wonderful opportunity.
As of Autumn 2021, Samuel Yamamoto, from Lethbridge Alberta, will be the new visiting piano technician for Yellowknife. He is an experienced technician, and an interesting guy! Please check out his website at: https: https://www.samyam.ca/home and contact him for future piano work in Yellowknife.
I want to sincerely thank all my clients and friends that I have known over the years in that lovely northern town. I hope to keep in touch, and wish you all the best!
February 2021: Recovery from the injury to my wrist has not been as fast as I had hoped, but I am once again tuning pianos, easing into it part time. Thank you for your patience.
This spring, I will be tuning pianos up and down Vancouver Island, from Mill Bay and Shawinigan Lake to Qualicum Beach and beyond. And of course in my home town of Nanaimo. Give me a call or send me an email and we can schedule a time that works well for everyone. Happy Spring!
Fall is always a busy time for piano tuning, when people get back into music lessons, schools get back into swing, and music groups get organized for shows. This year is different here on Vancouver Island, and all over the world, with the Coronavirus ramping up. Nevertheless, I was busy tuning and repairing pianos from Nanaimo to Parksville, Duncan to Qualicum Beach….until I had my own little bicycle accident on a rainy day and a slick road. As it turned out, I broke a bone in my right hand, needing a cast for 8 weeks, and also broke a rib. So, with the ensuing rehabilitation, I will need until the end of 2020 before I start tuning pianos again. And, of course, I will be foregoing my piano tuning trip to Yellowknife once again.
If you would like a piano servicing appointment, please phone me to discuss whether I can refer you to someone else, or whether you would like to wait until the new year for work on your piano. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I wish all my clients a healthy New Year, and a better 2021 for everyone!
I am happy to say that I’m back tuning pianos again this summer, albeit with special COVID precautions and protocols. I’ll be tuning pianos up and down central Vancouver Island, with mask, hand sanitizer, and physical distancing. If you would like to request a piano tuning or repair, please give me a call and we can discuss the needs of your piano, and the needs of everyone for safety around the coronavirus. I service pianos throughout the mid-island region: from Mill Bay to Parksville, Duncan to Qualicum Beach, and of course here in my town of Nanaimo. In the meantime, I hope you get out and enjoy this beautiful place we live in – oceans, parks, mountains, wildlife, and wonderful people…even at a distance.
Thankfully here on Vancouver Island we can still get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s a few shots of me with the famous big trees on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The sitka spruce is what piano soundboards are most often made of, and the gnarly cedar tree is close to 800 years old.
It’s been a very different spring, with the world-wide pandemic of the Corona Virus affecting most of Canada in some way or another. Currently, Piano Forte Service has “paused” all piano tuning and servicing here on Vancouver Island, as we take safety precautions not to go into clients homes or other public spaces. Thankfully, I have an interesting and varied business with pianos, and another part of my business is importing specialty piano parts, tools, felts, and supplies and supplying them to piano technicians all over the world. So I am lucky to be able to work from home and connect with my piano colleagues in different ways each day.
This spring I am sorry to not be able to connect with my long time piano tuning clients and help create a bit more harmony in the world! I will also be foregoing my spring trip to Yellowknife, in the NorthWest Territories, where I have been tuning pianos for more than 20 years. In the meantime, I’m enjoying renovating a large space into a shop and piano “workshop”, so I’ll always have a space in which to play. I have a few very unique and historic pianos of my own that I have also been dreaming of rebuilding…
We are also so blessed to live in a beautiful area of the world, were I can take my little row boat out in the islands to see the wonderful wildflowers. Here’s a couple of shots from the Winchelsea Islands, early May 2020.
To all my piano tuning clients, old and new, please stay safe and healthy this year and I’ll see you when the tuning starts up again…Jurgen Goering
Hello to all my piano clients new and old. The months fly by, and the piano tuning and repair business just gets busier here on central Vancouver Island. From October to December I’m booked up and down the island – from Mill Bay to Qualicum Beach – tuning for piano teachers, recording studios, churches, and theatres. I tune pianos for private clients in Shawnigan Lake, Parksville, and all the spots in between….and clients must book early because everyone wants their piano tuned before the holidays.
In November I also made my annual fall trip up to Yellowknife, NWT….getting there right before the really cold weather hit. This year I worked overtime to tune an astounding 54 pianos in 10 days…those northerners really like their pianos to help get them through the long, dark, cold winter!
And I’ve recently began mentoring a new piano tuner, Cathy Sisson, a recent graduate from the North Bennett Street School in Boston, School of Piano Technology. Cathy has been helping me regulate pianos in my workshop, and will be doing the occasional piano tuning for me when appropriate. You may meet her soon!
I was also happy to be contacted by a school here in Nanaimo that had a student wanting to research piano technology as a career. He had the opportunity to accompany me to the Port Theatre in Nanaimo and watch and ask questions while I tuned the concert grand piano there. There is so much opportunity for new piano technicians in North America, but the training is 2 to 3 years at a minimum. However, it’s great to pass on some of my 35 years of experience and have someone else get excited about this career!
I wish you all the best for the holiday, and a great new year!
Once again, I’m privileged to be the piano technician selected to repair and tune the concert grand piano for the Hornby Island Music Festival. This is a music festival that’s been running for 38 years on this tiny gem of an island in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C. Hornby is an island with an incredible natural setting, beautiful parks and trails, sandy beaches with warm ocean water, generous people, and it’s full of creativity of every type. The music festival runs for 10 days straight, and the last 3 performances this year were classical shows in the unique and intimate Hornby community hall. The piano there is a beautiful 1923 Bechstein concert grand piano, and it is my joy (and job) to keep it in great condition for the amazing artists that come every year.
Michael Brown, Piano
Adam Golka, piano
This year we were privileged to have 3 talented performers come from New York: Michael Brown and Adam Golka on piano, and Lauren Pearl Eberwein sang a vocal recital. Lauren’s songs of “Love’s Passion and Sorrows” were moving and engaging, and the two piano recitals were technically impressive and emotionally powerful. The last recital included both pianists in two different four-hand pieces: Beethoven’s sonata in D and a rendition of Beethoven’s famous 5th Symphony. The piano really got a workout with these two masters engaging full force – I gave it multiple piano tunings to keep it in order! It was a pleasure to chat and share with all the artists, and hard to calm down after such exciting performances. Also while on Hornby I tune pianos for select private clients – please contact me if you need this service in the future