Piano Technology Conference

May 8-10, 2024

We are once again hosting a virtual piano technology conference, and we are hoping you can be there!

Please join us for three days of learning and demonstrations with an exciting roster of NBSS alumni and industry leaders. View the detailed schedule below (coming soon).

Conference registration is free and open to all NBSS alumni. If you are interested in supporting NBSS with a gift, you are welcome to consider an optional tax-deductible contribution to the School.

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, May 8TopicPresenter
8:30-10:00 amButts, Guts, and GloryGina Bonfietti
8:30-10:00 amRecapping the Vertical Bass Bridge Without Removing the PlateChristian Bolduc
10:30-12:00 noonFundamentals of Shop ManagementLouis Del Bene PT ’06, PA ’07
1:00-2:30 pmDampers from the Ground UpSteve Brady
3:00-4:30 pmDealer PrepMichael Jurewicz
3:00-4:30 pmSteinway Back ActionRick Baldassin
7:00-8:30 pmRoad Tech Round TableRuth van Dine PT ’99, PA ’00, Maggie Jusiel, and Dan Levitan PT ’75
Thursday, May 9TopicPresenter
8:30-10:00 amBuilding a Small BusinessKris Krishnaswami PT ’14, PA ’15
10:30-12:00 noonPLSS: Piano Life Saver Service for Older ModelsKenny Brown and Debi Gould
1:00-2:30 pmVoicing: Behind the ScenesJason Cassel
3:00-4:30 pm34 Years of String Scaling ObservationsTremaine Parsons PT ’74
7:00-8:30 pmConcert Tech Round TableNowell Gatica PT ’11, PA ’12, Renée Kelsey PT ’17, PA ’18, and Steve Brady
Friday, May 10TopicPresenter
8:30-10:00 amSurviving and Thriving as a College and University Piano Technician (CAUT)Mario Igrec
8:30-10:00 amStanwood Method: Two Case StudiesDavid Stanwood PT ’78, PA ’79
10:30-12:00 noonIntro to Steinway Spirio Player SystemsLauren Sclafani PT ’14, PA ’15
1:00-2:30 pmPiano Dealerships 101Morgan Cowell PT ’14
3:00-4:30 pmFantastic Problems and How to Solve ThemJason Cassel

Session Descriptions

Butts, Guts, and Glory!
Gina Bonfietti
Yamaha pianos are everywhere! Unfortunately, with the issue of faulty butt cords in these pianos, Technicians need to know how to repair them. After taking this class, you will be able to master the repair! We will discuss changing the hammer butt cord on Yamaha uprights with a butt plate, see video demonstrations of the repair and discuss the tools and the materials needed, the process, the ins and outs, and the potential mistakes!

Recapping the Vertical Bass Bridge Without Removing the Plate
Christian Bolduc
Is having to pull the plate putting you off? Christian demonstrates an easy way to replace split bridge caps on uprights without using epoxy or other glues to fix bridge pin problems. Learn how to build a jig over the plate to remove the old cap and glue the new one on. This technique can also be applied to grand pianos.

Fundamentals of Shop Management
Louis Del Bene PT ’06, PA ’07
Whether a person is self employed, in a partnership, part of a small team, or running or working for a large team of people, we all are faced with many of the same problems in our working lives.  Many of these problems have solutions that are common among our trade and across a variety of seemingly unrelated trades.  This class will discuss ways that we can challenge ourselves as professionals while we also support our people and ourselves better to help create a sustainable, satisfying, & financially viable working life.

Dampers from the Ground Up
Steve Brady
So you’ve learned to regulate an action model. Now how do you translate that into regulating a real grand action under real-world conditions? This class provides a framework for the overall job, plus the best techniques for doing each individual step in the process.

Dealer Prep
Michael Jurewicz
Dealer Prep: discussing methods for prepping new pianos in a dealership. Learn about what to expect, what to focus on with little time to work, plus some real life tips/tricks to use when prepping pianos for dealers.

Steinway Back Action
Rick Baldassin

Road Tech Roundtable
Ruth van Dine PT ’99, PA ’00, Maggie Jusiel, and Dan Levitan PT ’75

Building a Small Business
Kris Krishnaswami PT ’14, PA ’15

Piano Life Saver Service for Older Models (PLSS)
Kenny Brown and Debi Gould
Enhance your skills in servicing older models of the Piano Life Saver System. Discover how components have evolved over the company’s 75-year legacy of promoting pitch stability. Gain expertise in supporting these systems and understanding compatibility, from historic to current models.

Voicing: Behind the Scenes
Jason Cassel
What exactly happens to the tone of a note when it is voiced? In this class, before and after recordings will be played so that you can hear the difference. But that’s not all! Graphs will also be displayed, making it easy to see which partials are affected by different voicing techniques. Bring your listening ears.

34 Years of String Scale Observations
Tremaine Parsons PT ’74
This class will present string scale design fundamentals and overviews of up to 30+ original scale designs by different manufacturers. Observations regarding design aspects will be presented and discussed. Audio recordings will demonstrate aural proofs of scale/tuning anomalies. Paulello wire will be discussed.

Concert Tech Roundtable
Nowell Gatica PT ’11, PA ’12, Renée Kelsey PT ’17, PA ’18, and Steve Brady

Surviving and Thriving as a College and University Piano Technician (CAUT)
Mario Igrec
As a college piano technician you face many challenges specific to the academic environment: high expectations, abundant creativity, constrained resources, and inadequate climate control. In this class you will learn how to navigate those needs and how to prioritize your efforts to achieve most effective results. Above are the links to several spreadsheets for common administrative needs such as calculating a budget, managing inventory, generating tuning reminders, tracking expenses, and evaluating tunings for new hires. First we’ll look at why and how to become a CAUT, how to negotiate your position, how to set expectations, and when to say no. Then we’ll delve into your main roles—as a technician, bean counter, administrator, and strategist.

Stanwood Method: Two Case Studies
David Stanwood PT ’78, PA ’79
This class will turn your touch weight world right side up on its head. For the highest standard of quality, smooth scaling hammer strike weights is the top priority with mirrored smooth scaled front key weights permanently set as a design feature with digital scale accuracy. Down weight and up weights taken on sample notes guide the setup for a desired inertial playing quality. It’s a simple calculation free and work bench friendly approach. Two case histories illustrate the method. One, a fairly routine living room grand getting new parts with several part design options. The other, a high quality, late model, concert grand in a large hall with a heavy action and a bad reputation.

Intro to Steinway Spirio Player System
Lauren Sclafani PT ’14, PA ’15
This presentation will give an overview of the latest in piano technology at Steinway & Sons through demonstrations of Spirio – Steinway’s high-resolution player piano.

We’ll explore the catalog of music, demonstrate recording and editing capabilities, connect through Steinways proprietary streaming platform, Spiriocast, and explore how Spirio technology can be integrated into the everyday lives of performers and students alike.

We’ll then take a deep dive into how this is all possible with a look into Spirio components, manufacturing, calibration, and service.

Piano Dealerships 101
Morgan Cowell PT ’14
Thinking about becoming a piano dealer? This class will go through the basics of becoming a Piano dealer/technician and the pros and cons associated. We’ll talk about how to get started, the risks and rewards, how it can impact your image as a piano, tuner, and how to avoid getting in over your head.

Fantastic Problems and How to Solve Them
Jason Cassel
“I’ll take sticking keys for 300!” This Jeopardy-style class is the most fun you’ll have at the convention. Videos will present common problems and repairs – from sticking keys to ringing dampers and beyond. Participants can score points for their team by guessing the cause of the problem correctly. Once identified, the solution will be discussed.

Christian Bolduc is a technician/bellyman specializing in soundboards and pinblocks. Following his studies at Ecole du Meuble de Victoriaville to become a fine cabinet and furniture maker, he spent a full year at the Schimmel factory in Braunschweig, Germany studying piano structure and design. His combined understanding of wood and design has made him an expert in his niche. He is a constant searcher for new ideas and methods to make your rebuilding projects easier. Christian is the president and owner of Pianos Bolduc.

Gina Bonfietti: I’m Gina, and I have been working on pianos forever, or at least since my father, Gino, entered the business in the ’70s. Now, I spend my days drinking coffee and petting dogs, with pianos mixed in to pay the bills. Seriously, I have been a self-employed piano tech since 1990. I am located in SW, Connecticut, and have been running a business that, on busy days, services seven pianos a day. I am a Field Technician and love fixing things and figuring out the puzzle of pianos. I have been a PTG member for over 34 years and am a former Board Member. I have attended many seminars and conventions and taught a number of classes.

Steve Brady currently serves as chief concert technician for the Seattle Symphony. Previously he was head piano technician at the University of Washington for 25 years, and at the Aspen Music Festival and School for five years. He has tuned and prepared pianos for approximately 6,000 concerts and recitals, and worked with most of the leading pianists of our time. Steve served as editor of the Piano Technicians Journal for six years (1995 to 2001). In 1999 PTG published his book, A Piano Technician’s Guide to Field Repairs. His book, Under the Lid: The Art and Craft of the Concert Piano Technician, was published in 2008 and appeared in a revised and updated second edition in 2022. Steve was inducted into the PTG Hall of Fame in 2012 and in 2016 he received PTG’s highest honor, the Golden Tuning Hammer.

Kenny Brown has been with Dampp-Chaser since 2015, serving in both technical and administrative capacities. Prior to joining Dampp-Chaser, he spent a decade in engineering and quality positions at a company specializing in custom humidity control systems. Kenny will be available via chat during the class to assist with any questions that arise.

Jason Cassel currently serves as a Piano Technician for the Brigham Young University School of Music. He graduated with his MA in Piano Technology from Florida State University and earned his BM in Commercial Music from BYU. Jason has served as a Senior Piano Technician for the Aspen Music Festival and has received manufacturer training from Steinway & Sons, Yamaha, Mason & Hamlin, and Renner USA. Jason is a Registered Piano Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild. He has received the Jack Greenfield Award in recognition of his over two dozen articles in the Piano Technicians Journal. Additional publications include an eBook on harpsichord maintenance, and six instructional video courses on aural tuning.

Morgan Cowell, RPT, is a 2014 graduate of NBSS and is the founder of Great Plains Piano Company.

Louis Del Bene, RPT works on a variety of keyboard instruments of modern and historic design & make. Presently he works to service, repair, rebuild, and build keyboard instruments.  He has taught the trade at NBSS in full time programs & continues to teach in workshop settings.  He also offers consulting services for shops & businesses across the country.  He has a persistent personal interest in manufacturing processes, machining operations, and people who make a life and a living working with materials in a variety of applications.

Nowell Gatica, RPT graduated from the NBSS Advanced Piano Technology program in 2012 and the Basic Piano Technology program in 2011. In 2014 he completed a master’s degree in piano technology from Florida State University under Anne Garee then spent time on the upright assembly line at the Sauter piano company in southern Germany. For several summers he was a concert technician at the Aspen Music Festival and School and continues to participate when time permits. From 2014-2022 he was the Chief Piano Technician for Steinway Hall – Dallas where prepped new and used pianos, rebuilt customer pianos, and handled concert work including the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In 2022 he became the Factory Piano Technician for Steinway & Sons in New York where he currently preps pianos for international markets, runs quality inspections, trains factory apprentices, and fills in for concert venue and selection room work. In his free time, of which he has very little, he enjoys long distance running and eliminating pianos from all his conscious and subconscious thoughts.

Debi Gould, with over a decade at Dampp-Chaser Corporation, is a seasoned expert on the Piano Life Saver System. Throughout her career, Debi has been a dedicated provider of technical support to piano technicians and piano owners. Debi’s class on the Piano Life Saver System promises to be an enlightening session that draws upon her extensive knowledge and dedication to the industry.

Mario Igrec, RPT, M. Mus., is Chief Piano Technician and Manager of Piano Maintenance at the Juilliard School in New York. He bridges piano technology and pianism, and provides a unique perspective as a master craftsman and award-winning pianist. Mario is the author of Pianos Inside Out, “the most ambitious book on piano technology ever written” (Piano Technicians Journal), and has created Practical Touch™, a system for advanced action performance analysis. He was Chief Concert Technician at Faust Harrison Pianos in New York, taught at North Bennet Street School in Boston, and served as head piano technician at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. As an independent concert technician and master rebuilder, he has worked for Richard Goode, Jon Kimura Parker, Garrick Ohlsson, and other renowned pianists. A Registered Piano Technician (RPT) of the Piano Technicians Guild, Mario is a frequent lecturer and instructor at technicians’ meetings and conferences.

Michael Jurewicz has been a piano technician for over 13 years in the NY Tri-state area. He started his career at Faust Harrison Pianos where he ultimately became the head technician and director of technical services. He has since started his own company, Riverside Piano Works, specializing in tuning, voicing, regulation, repairs and action rebuilding. Michael has had the honor of training at Bechstein in Germany, Fazioli in Italy, Yamaha and Bosendorfer in the USA. He is also on the Board of Directors for NBSS.

Maggie Jusiel has been tuning in the hills of WV since 2002. She joined the PTG in 2004 and began her technical training with members of her chapter. She was able to attend the Yamaha Little Red Schoolhouse and gain more training as she became more involved in the PTG. For the first decade of her work, she would travel up to three hours away on highways and back roads. In 2018, she began writing about her adventures for the “Tuner’s Life” section of the PTG Journal and has been featured in that section 13 times. In 2020, she completed the Butler School of Piano Technology and became an RPT. She became a CTE and started teaching for the Butler School of Piano Technology in 2023, and is now training to become a TEC. In recent years, she has taken on two apprentices to help her keep up with tunings in the hills so she can begin to stay closer to home and spend more time teaching, working on her YouTube channel, and creating educational materials for those who want to gain aural skills.

Daniel Levitan: The former tuning editor of The Piano Technicians Journal, Daniel Levitan has written dozens of articles on tuning, and has taught numerous classes at local, regional, national, and international conferences. He is best known for his groundbreaking research into inharmonicity, his insightful approach to the mechanics of tuning, and his innovative tuning hammer designs. A graduate of the North Bennet Street School (1975), he works as a field piano service technician in New York City.

Tremaine Parsons, RPT, was introduced to Piano Technology in 1969 when his piano technician (after a fourth call back) taught him to re-glue upright jack posts using two kitchen knives and a piece of coat hanger to clear the mortise. Seeking higher standards, Tremaine attended the North Bennet St. School of Piano Technology graduating in 1974. While building a successful tuning, repair, and rebuilding business in the suburbs of Boston MA, Tremaine became interested in computers during the mid 80’s and released his first version of Pscale (piano scaling program) three months after seeing a demonstration of the Atari scaling program at a chapter meeting held at Inventronics in 1989. In 1992, Tremaine relocated to California and, while building a new tuning clientele during this decade, established Sierra Software Services and ported Pscale to the Windows platform in 1997. 2007 to 2010 were dedicated to making sure that Pscale was available for Windows 64 bit operating systems using DosBox. In 2014, Pscale was finally ported to javascript and html to run on all operating systems without an Internet connection. Program Improvements and support continue.

Lauren Sclafani is the Chief Spirio Technician and Lead Sound Engineer for the Music, Technology, & Media department at Steinway & Sons in New York City.
In her time at Steinway, she has worked with hundreds of pianists and has become one of the most informed technicians regarding the interaction of the Steinway piano, Steinway’s developing technology, and its relationship with artistic performance. She is a key member of the global development team and is active in music production for the Spirio Music Catalog and the Steinway & Sons Record Label, winning a Latin Grammy Award in 2021.
Lauren holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance Pedagogy and a Bachelor of Science in Sound Recording Technology from the State University of New York at Fredonia, and a Certificate in Advanced Piano Technology from the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Massachusetts. Before Steinway, she honed her crafts at the Marlboro Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and Tanglewood.

David Stanwood graduated from the Advanced Piano Technology course at North Bennet Street School in 1979. In the 1990s, he pioneered the field of Touch Weight Metrology and created his trademarked Precision Touch Design method for predictably improving the touch and tone of grand pianos. David received the North Bennet Street School Distinguished Alumni award in 2007 and was inducted into the PTG Hall of Fame in 2019.

Ruth Van Dine: Growing up with a piano in her home and an interest in woodworking and mechanics, Ruth decided to become a professional piano technician and in 1997 attended NBSS first year under Jack Stebbins and Christine Lovgren. That summer she spent two weeks as an assistant piano technician at the Tanglewood Music Festival, working under technician/rebuilder Joel Rappaport. Ruth then attended the second year rebuilding program under David Betts, graduating in the spring of 2000. Since then, Ruth has worked for herself, servicing universities, theater, concert venues and private homes. Ruth is an RPT member of the Piano Technicians Guild. Ruth stays on the cutting edge of piano technology by attending classes and seminars frequently. She has been an instructor at National and Regional Piano Technician conferences and has been published in the Piano Technicians Guild Journal.

Contact Jenn Gold, Teaching Assistant, at jgold@nbss.edu.