"But one day I put my hands on a piano that Richard Davenport had rebuilt and prepared, and it literally changed my life. I felt it was so exponentially better than a new piano. New soundboard, new action parts--it was orders of magnitude beyond what my fingers were used to. I thought, 'I don't know anything! I need to get some education, I need to break this down, I need to get some help. I can't be a lone wolf anymore.' Within a short time, I took on an incredible apprentice. Stephen Bellieu was the apprentice everybody dreams about--the guy you trust with your childrens' lives in an emergency, but who was also a total piano geek, who already had a facility with tools, and spatial reasoning that was way beyond mine. He pulled me up and reinvigorated me in my own work."
During this time, Andersen had begun getting "some high-end gigs" with composers and performers. He also found himself doing new-piano prep work on many of the best European instruments, and his voicing skills rose to a new level. "I learned how to feel the needle in the felt, in my opinion the most important skill in voicing these high-compression hammers, and started to work at developing a real tonal memory." In the workshop, Andersen and Bellieu consulted with technicians such as Rick Baldassin, Bill Spurlock, Dale Erwin, and David Stanwood to find better and more efficient protocols for different aspects of piano restoration.
In 1999, Andersen says, "I got out of a really bad marriage, and my life just blossomed. We started to do some really serious rebuilding. I started to attract a lot more attention in every realm. I started to dedicate more and more to being a piano technician. I just fully jumped in the river of 'This is my life, this is my being, this is where the energy is, this is what I love to do.'
"I was always off and on trying to sell pianos--'gray-market' Yamahas and Kawais and a lot of Hamburg Steinways--in the 1980s, but I could never see myself sitting in a store someplace. That was a bleak prospect. So how could I still be a working technician, doing exactly what I wanted to do, but sell pianos I really loved and felt great about, to people I like--where there was some kind of pre-existing understanding of what kind of people would buy my pianos?"
FALL 2009 -- page 62
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hybrid & Player Pianos