Classes

Upcoming Classes
Previously Held Classes


The classes below are available to the piano trade. To view classes for pianists, teachers, students, and piano dealers, click here. About the Instructor is at the bottom of this page. Please inquire about pricing and scheduling. View previously held classes.




Actual Voicing, Not Just the Prep

(1.5 hours [1 period], 3 hours [2 periods])

Are you frustrated by voicing classes that spend most of the time on prep and just minutes on actual voicing? Focused on the maintenance voicing of high-use pianos, this class dives right into the needling techniques to combat the tonal harshness and aggression in moderately to heavily worn hammers. Equally applicable to high- and low-density hammers, the class demonstrates a simple technique for making pp mellower without compromising the power and projection in ff. It shows how to spare the hammers from overneedling; how to test the voicing musically by playing simple tension-release sequences; how to gauge tonal balance between sections; and how to work to a time constraint instead of a goal. You will learn how to increase sustain and bloom, how to voice out clanks and capo sizzles, and how to tame boomy notes without affecting their brightness.

Increasing the power and projection, and voicing a new set of hammers will be covered as time permits.

This is not a hands-on class but you will experience an actual voicing. Previous exposure to hammer prep, reshaping the hammers, and some voicing experience are recommended though not necessary.

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Discoveries, Surprises, Lessons Learned: On the Journey to Pianos Inside Out

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3.0 hours [2 periods])


View class handout

Having resurrected a book project he started in 1988 while teaching piano technology at Louisiana State University, which resulted in the publication of Pianos Inside Out in 2013, Mario observes how the piano world has evolved in the last 25 years. We've learned a lot about the soundboard including how to replace it, yet some concepts are still unintuitive. We finally treat center-pin friction as torque, and modern lubricants have changed what we can do for the better. Measuring action forces and weights doesn't require disassembly, and our understanding of touch and playability is significantly improved. A collage of topics that will surprise even the most informed technician.

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Fazioli Pianos: A Voicer's Perspective

(1.5 hours [1 period])


Fazioli grand pianos have fascinated pianists, audiences, and piano technicians for over four decades. What is the secret of success of this company that keeps growing while other manufacturers experience declining demand?

This class, only available in venues with Fazioli pianos, is an overview of qualities and characteristics that define the Fazioli sound and touch. Hear musical examples that demonstrate how the Fazioli sound differs from other pianos, then observe how to service the action, and learn the voicing techniques that support the Fazioli tone. The class ends by the showing of a video shot at the Fazioli factory in Sacile, Italy. The video reveals production techniques that not only explain the Fazioli features, but that can be of real value to any piano rebuilder.

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Grand Action: A Balancing Act

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])


View class handout, DW/UW cheat sheet, Measurements worksheet

This introductory class explains how the grand action is balanced, introducing concepts such as action leverage, hammer "strike weight," downweight, upweight, balance weight and friction. The class explores how these aspects interact, how to measure them in a way that is compatible with the Stanwood and Practical Touch protocols, and why understanding them is useful. Students learn to calculate the balance weight and friction from down and upweight information both mentally and with a formula. Class participants are encouraged to take measurements and to compare measurements on several notes throughout the range.

ANONYMOUS CLASS EVALUATIONS:

"Outstanding presentation skills in every aspect. Aim for him, as many workshops as he will give. He is amazing."
"Reminder of and slightly different way of looking at how [and] why Stanwood formula is helpful."
"Best class I've been to yet! Liked that we could download notes offline to be able to give full attention to what you were saying!"
"Walked a line between highly technical concepts and practical concrete examples. It rounded my knowledge of a complex yet ignored system."
"It can make a difference in my rebuilds without taking too long to be practical."
"Deepened my understanding of the grand action parts and how they interreact. Practical tips to use clips were good."
"Helped visualize some complex concepts. Simplified function of action levers."
"Comprehensive, clear. Distilled information to its crux. Provided methodology and options for improving touch."
"Clear learning points, summary points page ... Useful refresher on concepts."
"[You] taught something I didn't know in a way that I could understand."
"Brought up all the perspectives on how to understand and make it practical in the field."
"Introduced touch weight well for a new technician."
"Very well organized and systematic."
"Very informative and knowledgeable."
"Explained in such detail, thank you!!!"
"Good pace, good visual/lecture pairing."
"Please open more classes. He is a really knowledgeable lecturer!"

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How Our Work Affects the Pianist

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])

View class handout

Do we see ourselves as technicians or enablers of enjoyment of music? Are we focused on technical excellence while neglecting true customer needs? This class explores how the myriad technical choices we make every day affect our most important customer—the pianist. Learn how tonal (im)balance affects the perception of needed touch force, why drop must not be too deep, and how keyboard affects the perception of touch. Find out how the player perceives each technical aspect of touch and discover pianist's top 10 priorities. In this intriguing and dynamic class Mario demonstrates what so many pianists struggle with by playing brief excerpts from classical piano literature.

ANONYMOUS CLASS EVALUATIONS:

"Attending to interest of the group even when the questions were borderline off topic, you were able to relate back to your objective."
"Thank you for sharing your time and experiences in servicing not only the piano but the client (pianist)."
"New info from an actual pianist/tech."
"Advanced approach."
"Brought out the most important aspects of our work."
"Gave me a different perspective to try."

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Practical Touch™ Analysis: A Four-step, Non-invasive Grand Touch Evaluation Method

(1.5 hours [1 period], 3 hours [2 periods], 6 hours [4 periods], 1- or 2-day workshop)

View class handout (for crisper photos, get the high-resolution version)

Touch weight chart

You are about to install new hammers. The owner has been complaining about heavy touch. You regulated the action, but it still feels uneven. What do you do? Use lighter hammers, lighten existing hammers, add lead weights, install the TouchRail, or put in turbo wipps? Change the leverage ratio? But what will that do to the key dip? Blow distance? Will the action feel inert or feel light but hard to control? Will it repeat poorly, or feel "too fast"?

Wonder no more. In this class you will learn how you can evaluate grand action performance in a few minutes, with four quick measurements. You don't even have to pull the action out of the piano! I'll show you how to use the free calculator spreadsheet to play what-if scenarios, decide the best course of action, and even predict how many leads to install and where along the front segment of the key. And as a lagniappe, you will learn to measure how dampers contribute to touch. This class will leave you wondering why action optimization has always been rocket science. It's time to change that!

Whether you are starting with brand new parts or analyzing a completely assembled action, this time-saving approach will put you in control and allow you to improve the outcome of your action work with little additional time--and cost--added to your projects.

ANONYMOUS CLASS EVALUATIONS:

"Impressive encyclopaedic knowledge with combined experience of a pianist, analyst, and learned practical craftsman. The lecture truly was a joy."
"Very informative and useful. I will use your system in future projects."
"Well put together presentation. You kept my attention pretty much the whole time."
"Fantastically comprehensive. Feels like a great tool for a piano technician. The presentation was very fluid and informative. Thank for sharing this knowledge!"
"Loved audio/visual/kinesthetic presentation! Covered and nailed in how to measure and plug into the spreadsheets."
"The calculator is excellent accompaniment to the book and invaluable to future work in this industry. Bravo!"
"Great material, brilliant perspectives. Nice eye-opening."
"Good combination of overview and detail (macro vs. micro). Easy to understand and offered to many free tools and resources."
"Comfortable and approachable presentation style."
"Simplified 'Stanwood'."
"You presented [the subject of touch weight and ratios] in such a warm and friendly way, that it now seems less intimidating and actually knowable."
"Brilliant presentation ... extensive and detailed analysis of a lot of overlooked topics in this industry ... phenomenal work."

CLASS AGENDA:

  • 1st period: History, About Practical Touch, How the Action Works, Procedure, Analysis (Spreadsheet), What Total Divergence Means, About Precision, How Dampers Affect Touch
  • 2nd period: Preparing Measurement Tools, Measurements Tips, Kit, Optional Tools, Refining Precision with Optional Measurements, Measurement Alternatives, More on Dampers and Touch, How the Spreadsheet Works
  • 3rd period: Hands-on: Measuring and Analyzing Touch in a Real Piano
  • 4th period: Overview of Solutions for: Friction, Touchweight, Inertia, Altering Action Leverage, Key Dip, Blow Distance

PRINCIPLES AND TECHNIQUES ACQUIRED:

  • Assess touch without disassembly
  • Learn how to use the Practical Touch calculator
  • Understand how different aspects of touch relate to each other
  • Techniques for measuring distances, forces (weight), and leverage
  • How regulation and voicing affect touch
  • How to solve common touch problems
  • How to prioritize touch solutions
  • Available non-invasive, add-on, and invasive solutions

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Surviving and Thriving as a College and University Piano Technician (CAUT)

(3 hours [2 periods], condensed version 1.5 hours [1 period])

View class handout.

Download:
Budget calculator
Expense tracking sample
Inventory sample
String retuning sample sheet
Tuning eval sample
Tuning eval template
Yearly piano maintenance procedure list

As a college piano technician you face many challenges specific to the academic environment: high expectations, abundant creativity, constrained resources, and inadequate climate control. In this class you will learn how to navigate those needs and how to prioritize your efforts to achieve most effective results. Above are the links to several spreadsheets for common administrative needs such as calculating a budget, managing inventory, generating tuning reminders, tracking expenses, and evaluating tunings for new hires.

First we'll look at why and how to become a CAUT, how to negotiate your position, how to set expectations, and when to say no. Then we'll delve into your main roles--as a technician, bean counter, administrator, and strategist.

  • As a technician, how do you decide between full tunings and touchups, how and when do you correct the pitch, and what is the value of an ETD? You will learn about new penumatic piano benches and the amazing value of a yearly "preserve and protect" service. We'll take a look at pragmatic options for climate control and consider whether protecting from high humidity might be more valuable than focusing on dryness. I'll share strategies for keeping Dampp Chasers plugged in (including in performance spaces), pianos covered, and drinks away from pianos. Extended techniques and prepared piano use--dreaded topics among piano technicians--may not be so bad if managed properly. You'll learn your options.

  • Wearing your bean counter hat, you probably think that your piano maintenance budget is inadequate, but to convince administrators to increase it you will need to assess your real needs. The provided calculator will give you budget estimates for piano replacement (capital), salaries (labor), and maintenance (service). You will also receive an inventory management spreadsheet to keep track of needs, tunings, service, and rebuildings for each piano. You can share this sheet with multiple technicians on Google Sheets and use it for tuning reminders. A provided expense spreadsheet allows you to manage all shop expenses with at-a-glance subtotals by vendor and category.

  • As an admin, learn your options for ordering and paying including the revolutionary new Amazon Business option. For piano moving we'll consider options including modern equipment such as the Moondog tilter and the hands-off, piano-flipping, KTT mover. What are your options for hiring technicians and how do you test their tunings? A provided spreadsheet allows you to record tuning deviations for each string before and after pounding, and visualize results in easy-to-read, color-coded charts.

  • And finally, what is your strategic value to the school, students, and your technicians? How can you add value? Should you teach, how can you engage the community, can you recruit donors? What is the value of your private work to the school, and how should you avoid conflicts of interest? We'll look at how to protect yourself and your team from injury and burnout, and how to manage a healthy work balance.

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What Matters, What Doesn’t: Prioritizing Work in a Changing Market

(1.5 hours [1 period] or 3 hours [2 periods])

View class handout

In the era of tight budgets and dwindling amateur use of the piano, paying attention to the needs of a serious piano performer, teacher, and student is a must. With his unique perspective as a pianist, former head technician at Louisiana State University, and a concert technician and rebuilder, Mario Igrec will explore prioritizing servicing and prep for our most lucrative market--the piano professional. We can no longer afford to spend a lot of time on the stuff we're comfortable with, convincing ourselves that "that must improve things." Instead, we must focus on procedures that mean the most to the player. Join Mario on this journey of What Matters and What Doesn't and learn to see your work through the eyes and fingers of the pianist.

ANONYMOUS CLASS EVALUATIONS:

"An excellent class to help techs focus on what's important!"
"There was an intentional focus on demonstrations of how a pianist/piano interprets the effect of the [discussed] adjustments."
"Useful ideas [that] apply to trouble-shooting and testing piano."
"Time [was given] for details of complex situation. [The class offers] potential for customer satisfaction."
"Kept control of group comments. He knows so much about so many topics... And he can play, too. Very organized and his presentation was very understandable while holding the interests of the most experienced in the group."
"[Mario Igrec offered] concepts rather than just measurements, specs, or procedures. Fine overview of best modern practices."
"Brilliant, thorough and amusing. Expanded my practical and theoretical knowledge."
"Vast knowledge of the piano."
"Made me think more about the pianists' needs instead of pleasing the piano tech gods."
"There need to be more musicians who are also good technicians."
"I am very happy to hear the voice of musicians and what we can do for them. This is the core of our work!"
"One of the best classes."
"[Good] use of humour and body language to keep our attention."

PRINCIPLES AND TECHNIQUES ACQUIRED FROM THIS CLASS

Prioritizing servicing to address pianists' real needs:

  • Considering purpose/use of the instrument
  • Importance of lubrication and climate stability
  • Seeing yourself through customer's eyes
  • How a pianist tests grand action
  • Observations as clues
  • Grand action regulation and voicing tips and techniques

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About the Instructor

MARIO IGREC, RPT, M. Mus., is Chief Piano Technician and Manager of Piano Maintenance at the Juilliard School in New York. He bridges piano technology and pianism, and provides a unique perspective as a master craftsman and award-winning pianist. Mario 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. He was Chief Concert Technician at Faust Harrison Pianos in New York, taught at North Bennet Street School in Boston, and served as head piano technician at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. As an independent concert technician and master rebuilder, he has worked for Richard Goode, Jon Kimura Parker, Garrick Ohlsson, and other renowned pianists. A Registered Piano Technician (RPT) of the Piano Technicians Guild, Mario is a frequent lecturer and instructor at technicians’ meetings and conferences.

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Previously Held Classes