Our Ideas: Applying "Kata" to Professional Piano Services
"Kata", in Japanese, means “foundation”. One may experience kata through sustaining trainings; it's impossible to fake. People who know "kata" are passionated and stubborn about what they do. They are confident, humble, patient, and powerful from within.
During her 12 years in the United States, Ms. Choi (or "Chung") was inspired by diverse arts and cultures, and experienced "kata" through studying Japanese drumming and piano maintenance. The idea of "Kata Music" is to apply "kata", our sincere passion and stubbornness in piano maintenance, to providing professional piano services in Hong Kong.
Piano Services Defined by Kata Music
"Piano Technician", or "Piano Tuner"?
Why do we call ourselves “piano technicians” sometimes, not just “piano tuners”? Very simple: when the piano is not functioning as expected, you’d call someone for repair. This person, while knowing how to tune, is also expected to regulate, voice, and repair. While "piano tuner" is still casually used, we like being called “piano technicians” a lot better.
Why do Pianos Need Regular Tuning and Maintenance?
Depending on the weather, home pianos require 1 to 3 tunings per year. The main sound producing component, the soundboard, is a big thin wooden board. Since wood react to moisture in the air by expanding or contracting, such reactions can alter the string tension enough to make the piano go out of tune. This is why humidity change is the main cause of out-of-tuneness. As no one can alter physical changes of the soundboard, the act of tuning restore harmonious sound by correcting the string tensions. Even though wood has this inconvenient flaw, we love them all the same because this is the best material for piano soundboard!
While we recommended at least two tuning per year, it is still up to the owner. All I can say is that, the more tension the strings lose, the longer it will take a piano technician to restore the tuning, resulting a higher cost. A piano that has not been worked on for years tends to accumulate bigger problems. They were often small problems to begin with, and could be easily fixed by a regular maintenance service.
Tuning is not a Race
Duration of each service depends on the piano and the needs of its owner. Normally it takes 1-2 hours. Sometimes it takes less time; if it takes longer, it doesn’t mean that the piano technician is not skillful enough. It’s not a race anyway. The piano technician could shorten his or her tuning time by using appropriate tuning app; it doesn’t mean the technician cannot tune aurally. I usually tune aurally, but may use an electronic tuning device to assist under noisy environment if necessary. Otherwise, I’d rather take my time to do a long lasting stable tuning, which reduces the frequency of annual service need.
Three Essences of a "Professional Tuning Service"
Troubleshoot like an Investigator
Aside from working with modern pianos, I have worked closely with historical keyboards such as harpsichords and Viennese fortepiano. I especially enjoy the soothing sound of fortepiano, and its history is very interesting to me as a musician. However, it is an even narrower field, and not many technicians are left to maintain them. I have traveled to various places in Europe and the United States to visit and learn the craft from established technicians. I also served 2 times as keyboard technician for Academy for Fortepiano Performance in upstate New York.