Ara Vartoukian OAM and the Beijing Central Conservatory Piano Technicians Course

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With Steinway having great in China over the last 10 years in particular with institutional sales. Many Conservatoriums were purchasing multiple instruments every year. It became evident that there was a need for a proper training facility which could produce technicians of a high standard capable of servicing quality instruments throughout China. As a result, Steinway Asia Pacific decided to set up a technicians course at the Beijing Central Conservatory and enlisted our director Ara Vartoukian to be the head coordinator due his reputation as a world renowned concert technician along with his significant experience heading a similar course at the Sydney Conservatorium in the 80s. After some negotiation, the BCC also specially built a facility for this course.

Ara produced a curriculum specific for the 2 year programme that was envisaged and the first course commenced in September 2015.

The BCC has over 1,000 pianos and 5 technicians who look after the task of maintaining these instruments. Three of these technicians were assigned to teach the course with Ara training them on the methods and travelling to Beijing several times a year in order to oversee the progress of the students and to conduct the tests at the end of each semester.

The student’s day starts at 8:30 in the morning and finishes at 6pm six days per week with an hour and a half break for lunch and several smaller breaks during the day. The course runs parallel with the 16 week semester of the Conservatorium. In the first year the students learn tuning, regulation and voicing on upright pianos. In the second year they concentrate on Grand piano tuning, regulating and voicing. Added to this, they undertake extensive repairs to several grand pianos and of course, gain experience on the many pianos at the Conservatorium.

A second course starts at the end of the first year so the two courses run together with 10 students studying at the same time. Students come form all over China and undergo a rigorous selection process over 2 days. Course number 3 will commence in September.

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