We try to keep our maintenance fees close to the margin here at Well Tempered Industries. Of course we leave the care and well being of our most important machine to the professionals, namely, through the good offices of our friend Steve Benjamins of Restoration Hardware, piano tuner to the stars. No, thats not a rumor, Benjamins really does tune Tom Brady's family piano. He also tunes and restores pianos throughout the bay area and at the august institution where we received our Mastesr in Music as well as the pianos of its phenomenally talented and hugely discerning music professors. It is from Mr. B that we acquired the only piano endorsed by the WT Blog: A 1925 Steinway S. Yes, the S is for Small.
While only the finest tuner will do for our most important asset, we are not above using child labor when our second most important tool is in need of repair.
For a piano teacher, there are few happier sights than...
Which brings us to last Tuesday at Evan's lesson when perhaps we too vehemently underlined the words, Two Beats!! in a rhythmic transition of He's a Pirate and then only moments later drew an almost page tearing # in front of an F, thereby fatally compromising the point of the pencil.
Evan, perhaps glad at this point for a distraction, reached for the Piano Sharpener, only to find that it would not engage with the pencil. He tried several turns before realizing that there was a glitch in the mechanism. Luckily, Evan, just the fellow for the job did not blanche at the challenge.
Never one to forego a pedagogical opportunity I asked Evan what would have happened if he hadn't taken apart the sharpener. He astutely answered that the lead would still be caught in the blade and the pencil would not be any sharper.
"Even if you kept turning the pencil?" I asked.
"Yes" he responded with alacrity.
"Even if you turned it as fast as you could for a dozen or two dozen turns"?
"Even if," he sighed resignedly sensing the trap being laid....
"Hmmm..." I mused and directed his attention to the troublesome measure in Pirate.
'If I were to play an F natural here would it ever be right?
"No," he conceded.
"Even if I played it fast, so fast that I might not even hold it for the two beats it requires? "
"No"-- just a whisper.
"In fact, Wouldn't cheating a beat even compound the mistake?"
"Yes."-- barely audible.
Since the WT studio is nothing but kind-hearted and to prevent further shameful self recognition I reminded Evan of his great expertise in repair.
"But you fixed the sharpener! "
"Yes I did" he beamed
"And it works good as new!"
And so we tinkered with the passage, figured out why fingers were not cooperating with ears, blew off the sawdust and carefully reattached it to the piece's mainframe.
A few careful turns and we had a freshly sharpened addition to Evan's repertoire.