Piano Technology

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


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 harpsichord 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 whose tenure exceeds 100 years.

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. Reach David by email.  

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. Reach Debbie by email.

Mario Igrec

Mario holds a M. Music and provides a unique perspective as a master craftsman and award-winning pianist. He 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 and adjustment. He taught piano technology and served as piano technician during his eight-year tenure at Louisiana State University. As an independent concert technician and master rebuilder, he has served and rebuilt many pianos in southern Louisiana, and has worked for Richard Goode, Jon Kumura Parker, Garrick Ohlsso, and other renowned pianists. He is a frequent instructor at piano technicians' meetings and conferences. In 2015, Mario moved to the Boston area where he acquired Concord Piano, a premier piano rebuilding shop and began teaching with NBSS.Reach Mario by email.

Emily Townsend 

Emily is a 2008 graduate of the NBSS piano technology program and a Registered Piano Technician. Before enrolling at NBSS, she earned a degree in piano performance from Trinity University. In addition to establishing a successful tuning and rebuilding business, Emily has served as the head technician at a Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and a concert technician at Aspen Music Festival and School and Tanglewood. Reach Emily by email.

Contact the Piano Technology department by email. 

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.
Click here for the school's gainful employment report for advanced piano.

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 $23,814* and may be paid in 9 monthly payments of $2,646. 
  • 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 $22,329* and may be paid in 9 monthly payments of $2,481. 
  • 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 2015 and June 2016.

*** Class hours equals clock hours.


Piano technology students tune pianos in the Boston area.
Learn more.


Get more info and ask questions about the piano program.
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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.