Piano Technology

North Bennet Street School offers two nine-month courses in Basic Piano Technology and Advanced Piano Technology. Both provide intensive, hands-on training with a comprehensive curriculum, stimulating environment, and master faculty. Highly regarded throughout the piano industry, NBSS equips graduates with the skills needed to launch successful businesses and pursue deeply satisfying careers.

The piano technology programs attract students who share a passion for music, problem solving and mechanics, and the hand skills used to restore and care for beautiful musical instruments.

Basic Piano Technology Curriculum

The nine-month Basic Piano Technology program covers comprehensive instruction in all phases of aural piano tuning including the concepts upon which equal temperament is founded. Students learn to tune, regulate and repair the actions of both upright and grand pianos. Classes include hands-on work, lectures and field trips. The history of keyboard instruments, business practice and ethics, advertising and promotion are included in the curriculum. The topics covered include:  

  • Musical acoustics
  • Tuning procedures and practice
  • Temperaments
  • Piano maintenance and repair
  • Upright and grand regulation
  • Business practice and ethics  

Advanced Piano Technology Curriculum

The nine-month Advanced Piano Technology program focuses on the entire piano and is devoted to comprehensive piano service including advanced tuning and regulation practice, discussion and resolution of service problems that occur in the field. Grand piano repair and rebuilding is also covered in depth. The topics covered include:

  • Appraisals and estimates
  • Pin block replacement
  • Veneer repairs
  • Refinishing
  • Soundboard repairs/replacement
  • Bridge capping
  • Rescaling
  • Action renovation, retrofitting, and replacement
  • Use of hand tools and woodworking machinery  

Training received in the NBSS Piano Technology program provides graduates with the technical skills, knowledge, and confidence to begin working immediately upon graduation. 

Every year, advanced piano technology students, working in teams of two or three, completely dismantle, rebuild and restore grand pianos. The pianos are either donated to the school or done on commission for individuals who pay the school for the work. The story of one of the pianos that was rebuilt in 2011-2012 is online.

“NBSS's ‘best of the best’ instructors open your mind to many different philosophies and methods. You become part of a select group of respected and recognized technicians in the field.”

Paul Panek '03
Owner, Piano Craftsman
Reading, Massachusetts
President of the Piano Technicians Guild’s Boston Chapter

Facilities

As with all NBSS programs, the Piano Technology courses emphasize hands-on learning. With two bench rooms and sixteen individual practice rooms, outfitted with a variety of pianos, students have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge to become successful technicians.

Field trips typically include the historical instrument collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; organ manufacturer C.B. Fisk, Inc. in Gloucester, Massachusetts; the Steinway factory in Long Island City, New York; Frederick Historic Piano Collection in Ashburhnam, Massachusetts; the harpsicord workshop of Alan Winkler in Medford, Massachusetts; Shalin Liu concert hall in Rockport, Massachusetts; and, Mason & Hamlin in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Faculty

NBSS Piano Technology instructors are nationally recognized and respected trade practitioners. Each offers a unique perspective on the approach and execution of work, thereby providing students with a more comprehensive view of the field. Because any given project can be accomplished in a variety of ways, our students have an invaluable resource — the combined experience and ideas of our exceptional teaching staff.  In June 2010, the combined tenure of the piano faculty exceeded 100 years! (pictured here left to right: Jack Stebbins, Christine Lovgren, David Betts and Debbie Cyr) 

David Betts

David, a 1972 graduate of the program and a Registered Piano Technician (RPT), heads the Piano Technology Department. David has been a self-employed piano technician and piano rebuilder for more than 35 years and a regular master teacher at regional and national Piano Technician's Guild meetings.  

Debbie Cyr

Debbie is a 1993 graduate of the program and a Registered Piano Technician (RPT). She works as a piano rebuilder and has an established piano tuning clientèle. Debbie is a part-time instructor at NBSS. A recent past president of the Boston Piano Technicians Guild, she teaches at regional and national PTG seminars.  

Christine Lovgren

Christine is a 1981 graduate of the program, a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) and a graduate of the University of Denver. Chris is a Northeast Regional Tuning Examiner for the Piano Technician's Guild, teaching and examining in both the regional and national level.  She has an extensive private clientèle around Boston and the North Shore. Chris has been the piano technician for Rockport Music since it began in 1982.

Jack Stebbins

Jack is a 1983 graduate of the program and a Registered Piano Technician (RPT). He received his Master of Music degree in conducting from Westminster Choir College before enrolling in the NBSS Piano Technology program. A self-employed piano technician for more than twenty five years, Jack has chaired the Examinations and Test Standards Committee for the national Piano Technician's Guild (PTG). He teaches and examines at both the regional and national level of the PTG.  

Read all NBSS faculty profiles here. 

Internships and working in the field

Students in the basic piano and advanced piano programs have ample opportunity to practice their craft in the field. During the school year and in the Summer for private clients, for institutions and for Summer music festivals including Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. Read more about internships and work in the field.

Employment 

Graduates of the Piano Technology courses most often become self-employed piano technicians. Some begin work with piano dealers and conservatories. Advanced Piano Technology graduates are employed by piano manufacturers and established rebuilding shops as well as colleges, universities and music schools. Read more about piano technology careers.

Click here for the school's gainful employment report for basic piano [pdf].
Click here for the school's gainful employment report for advanced piano [pdf].

Admissions  

NBSS offers rolling admissions and accepts qualified applicants throughout the year. Applicants for the Basic Piano Technology program should have good manual dexterity and enjoy working with their hands. Candidates who wish to continue their education in the Advanced Piano Technology program must first complete the Basic Piano Technology program or present evidence of equivalent experience and training. Learn more about the admissions process.

HOURS OF INSTRUCTION, TUITION, TOOLS AND MATERIALS

 

Basic Piano Technology

  • Classes meet 8:00 am - 3:30 pm, Monday - Friday, September through May.
  • The course length is one, nine-month academic year (36 weeks or 1260 class hours***).
  • The tuition is $22,680* and may be paid in 9 monthly payments of $2,520. 
  • The maximum class size is 16 students.
  • The estimated cost of tools is $1,500.
  • Students who complete the program receive a Certificate of Basic Piano Technology.
Advanced Piano Technology
  • Classes meet 8:00 am - 3:30 pm, Monday - Friday, September through May. 
  • The course length is one, nine-month academic year (36 weeks or 1260 class hours***). 
  • The tuition is $21,267* and may be paid in 9 monthly payments of $2,363. 
  • The Maximum class size is 10 students.
  • The estimated cost of tools is $750. 
  • The Successful completion of the NBSS Basic Piano Technology course, Registered Piano Technician (RPT) certification or equivalent experience is a prerequisite for this course.
  • Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Advanced Piano Technology.

*The tuition rate is for students entering North Bennet Street School between September 2014 and June 2015.

*** Class hours equals clock hours.


Get more info and ask questions about the piano program.
GET INFO !

The NBSS piano technology program was featured in the January 2014 issue of the Piano Technicians Journal. Read the article (PDF).

Experience in the field

NBSS students gain experience outside the classroom through internships with prestigious music and education organizations. Read more.