My Steinway M piano is back!

It took the awesome skills of a former Alabaman to resurrect my once beloved M from the dead.
Chuck Terpo Working 2

The keyboard had been an injury risk for months, plundered by too many technicians with pet regulation formulas and experimental impulses. After 6 months of rotating down weights and disappearing aftertouch, the black keys sat out of range above over-shallow white ones creating a two-tier instrument. To play this oddity required mega-compensation and massive denial–or at least a vivid imagination bordering on delusion.

To my astonishment, the first interloper, a RPT (Registered Piano Technician) from San Mateo slyly removed 22 or so lead weights from the keys and placed them in a bowl, hidden from view under a shade on my window sill. (I transferred them to a dinner plate)

lead weights

Within weeks of his departure I made the discovery and pieced together that my playing on air without any support beneath my fingers was not owing to an age-related, declining technique. Meanwhile the tech’s bizarre blaze of anger, bundled into his insistence that my hammers, doped with lacquer, needed a fabric softener treatment had mushroomed into a threat. If I refused the rinse cycle, he was out the door. (How many quarters please for the color free spin?)

To add insult to injury, one of the impostor’s cohorts (meaning the next in the parade of techs) implored me to “trust him” like some kind of snake oil salesman as he pitched a full scale key bed cutting– HALF punching surgery that was painless and promised a “modern day accelerated action.”

Bottom line, the hair-brained scheme left me with a “spring-loaded” action that by comparison made my hammer-weighted digital feel like a ton of bricks.

But just as my piano and me were about to be wiped off the map, I despairingly searched Craig’s List for a GRAND replacement, as if I had become resigned to the death of a spouse.

The timing had to be right because the Messiah came in the form of Chuck Terpo, a transplant from Birmingham Alabama to sunny California, circa 1977.

Popping up as the rebuilder of a For Sale Steinway M (located in San Rafael), he pitched his skills in an organized and convincing fashion. No Ego flashing or snake oil sales. I’d had enough of the former, through a charade of techs dismembering my piano piece by piece.

Chuck offered to come over and look into my deteriorated situation. He would embody the last thread of hope in my cycle of despair.

Terpo’s credentials bore out. He’d worked for Sherman Clay for years, tackling tough challenges in Steinway & Sons Concert and Artists loop: tuning, prepping and regulating for the big players in the concert circuit. That was just a chunk of Chuck’s impressive CV.

To cut a long story short, Terpo rose to the occasion and brought Steinway M back to me, WHOLE and HEALED.

So all I can say is Thank You, Chuck!


About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: OR or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in chuck Terpo, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano maintenance, Piano Street, Piano World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to My Steinway M piano is back!

  1. Pingback: My Steinway M piano is back! – Burning Bushes Music

  2. Pingback: My Steinway M piano is back! | Liv Morales

  3. Fran says:

    Congrats Shirley! I am very happy for you.


  4. Pingback: My Steinway M piano is back! | Henry Tan

  5. I just find that so fascinating. Nothing more rewarding than watching a technician with years of experience at work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. anieb says:

    Impressive work by Terpo and impressive documentation by Kirsten 🙂


  7. Holly says:

    So happy for you!!! I’m waiting for the day my 1879 Model M Steinway can be restored. It’s still very usable but hard to keep replaced strings in tune. There’ NOTHING like a certified piano technician.


  8. Pingback: Piano Maintenance: Resolving a weighty problem | Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

  9. Pingback: Piano Maintenance: Resolving a weighty problem | Henry Tan

  10. Pingback: Piano Maintenance: Resolving a weighty problem | Liv Morales

  11. Pingback: Piano Maintenance: Resolving a weighty problem – Burning Bushes Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s