Oberlin to Offer Artist Diploma in Piano Technology

May 12, 2014

By Erich Burnett

A technician works on a piano.
Photo credit: William Rieter

Oberlin’s new Artist Diploma in Piano Technology, designed in association with Steinway & Sons, is a two-year graduate-level program under the direction of Executive Director of Keyboard Technology John Cavanaugh.

Open to three students each year, the program covers tuning, repair, and restoration of modern instruments and fortepianos, with emphasis on helping students understand the needs of performing pianists.

Cavanaugh, who has taught piano technology classes for undergraduates at Oberlin for several years, is inspired by the prospect of working with students on a more advanced level. His goal is to “bridge the gap between piano technology and the concert pianist. Students will gain a complete understanding of voicing and touch. They will get a broader sense of how pianos really work and understand how the keys relate to the inside and the whole body of the piano.”

With additional mentorship by Oberlin’s technicians and rebuilders Robert Murphy and Ken Sloane, the course of study includes advanced techniques on both New York- and Hamburg-built models. Students will also receive instruction from visiting teachers from the New York Steinway factory, as well as independent master piano technicians who specialize in action and tonal work.

Oberlin is an incredible laboratory for such a venture. With 234 Steinway pianos, the conservatory has the largest collection of pianos outside of the Steinway factory. The busy conservatory schedule, as well as the renowned roster of guest artists that come to campus each year, will provide students with a range of experience that is carving a new niche in the way advanced piano technology is taught.

For more information, visit the piano technology page at oberlin.edu.

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