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 What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: bwilber 
Date:   2006-08-17 13:34

My question to the board is: What does it take for a person to be considered a professional clarinet repairer? Are there any really good repairers who taught themselves how to fix clarinets or does everyone go to a school to learn it properly? I live in Wisconsin and was told that the nearest school was in Red Wing, Minnesota. Can a person take classes by mail, or does it have to be in the classroom? Does a person have to learn how to repair all kinds of instruments, or can they pick and chose? Thanks.

Bonnie Wilber

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Imperial Zeppelin 
Date:   2006-08-17 13:40

I think this is still an "apprenticeship" sort of arrangement when one considers the top technicians. Daughter brings her clarinets to Rick Sayre who learned from Frank Kaspar who learned from Arthur Goldbeck and Oscar Bauer who...

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-08-17 14:11

I'm not one but do believe that school training is not necessarily a pre-requisite since I've read lots of comments on this BB from at least one who didn't go to school. Results are what counts.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2006-08-17 14:13

For what it's worth, I taught myself, with a little help from the outdated Eric Brand book, and the Ferrees catalogue.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2006-08-17 14:39

None, I hope. Or else I can't call myself a professional clarinet repairer, as I'm self-taught like Gordon.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-08-17 14:47

......"from at least two".....

Bob Draznik

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: bandman 
Date:   2006-08-17 14:47

I have been repairing for over 45years and I learned me repair as an apprentice. Trying to find someone that would take you in might be hard to do. I know there are good repair people to come out of the different schools and a lot of bad ones. I still think the best way to learn is as a apprentice.

Retired Repairman

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: DressedToKill 
Date:   2006-08-17 15:20

My clarinet tech was primarily self-taught, though he did eventually find an apprenticeship, and he is, quite possibly, the best repair tech (short of perhaps Tomoji or the Brannens) to have ever touched my clarinet.

(He's also extremely reasonable, and explains everything he does so that you know exactly what your horn needed, and will answer any questions you have.)

If any NYC area players are interested, I'd be happy to share his information with you via email. (I don't want to shill on the board, but he's great.)

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Cosmicjello 
Date:   2006-08-17 16:10

You might want to check out the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians.

Good luck!

There's actually a school in your state:

Badger State Repair School
204 W Centralia Street
Elkhorn, WI 53121
(262) 723-4062
badgerschool@napbirt.org



Post Edited (2006-08-17 16:14)

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-08-17 16:31

I'm largely self taught, I knew how to take bassoons, saxes, clarinets and oboes apart since I was 11, then I started working in my local music shop part time doing woodwind repairs when I was nearly 15 back in mid 1987, and when given the opportunity to work for Howarths back in 1998 I took it.

I think you do need to have the aptitude for the work, and an eye for neatness - but that doesn't mean you can't learn these things.

Best start with clarinets as they're pretty easy to work on - and progress from there.

But I don't do all that much work on flutes - I'd service them and do minor work, but I'd rather let flute specialists do more extensive work as they're more tooled up for doing flutes than I am (and they'll have all the various thicknesses and types of flute pads and specialist tools I don't have) - I prefer to specialise on oboes, but I still work on clarinets, saxes and piccolos.

I never thought I'd still have a career in finishing or repairing instruments right now when I was 15, but it seems to have happened without too much snap decision making on my part (only when I asked if I could work in my local shop when I was 14, then more recently being offered and taking the finishing job at Howarths) - a natural progression rather than taking on a new job and having to be trained up from scratch.

There are several employees at Howarth that have come into working for the company as keywork mounters or finishers with no prior experience of woodwind instruments at all, and with the right training they're turning out excellent quality work.

Chris.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-08-17 16:46

I agree that it is possible to teach yourself. I bought the new English book (forgot the name and auther atm sorry), which helps a lot with specific things I just couldn't really learn fast without it, but most is really just logic and experience.

I do know a few repairers that had serious training from Buffet and Selmer, and one of the reasons I started to repair myself is the poor work they have done on my clarinets.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-08-17 17:01

"...and one of the reasons I started to repair myself is the poor work they have done on my clarinets."

Exactly my observation with some so-called repairers I know of - I've had a clarinet knackered up by one who I trusted to refit newly plated keys and pillars (which took a LOT of sorting out on my part - now it's working fine, though this turn of events should never have needed to take place to begin with), so I thought why not do the job myself? I have the tools and the talent and know what I want to have done and I can set it up the way I like - and if it goes wrong, I only have myself to blame (though things can be put right in the majority of cases), and I haven't spent a small fortune for someone else to do a job I'm not happy with, and had the indignity of losing all faith in them.

Chris.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: BassetHorn 
Date:   2006-08-17 17:36

You can teach yourself, definitely, and consider working with someone as an apprentice or enrolled in a program to "finish off" your training.

I taught myself to cook and worked in a restaurant as a cook without prior "formal training", then after a couple of years I decided to enrolled in a college cooking program to "take it up a notch". When I finished, found a job at a top end hotel and did a formal apprenticeship and passed the government exams 3 years later.

So, the options aren't mutually exclusive, it all depends on the degree of your ambition, how much resources you can invest, your long term goal.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: clarinet@55 
Date:   2006-08-18 00:32

I guess that would make me an apprentice. I now have a great respect for anyone, who repairs musical instruments,professional or amateur. I'm almost completely done re-padding my Malerne B flat wooden clarinet. This is the one I've been asking questions on, here on this BBS. It's a great deal of trial & error to reseat pads for the correct fit. I found some useful information on the internet on this subject, which has helped me a great deal. I found that by capping of the end of each section seperately and applying a vacuum on the opposite end with all openings closed, that any pad leaks can be found. I'm slowly zeroing in on all the leakers and replacing them. My clarinet that I once thought to cracked is not. Just a case of old leaky pads. Thanks to all the help I received on the board as well.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: jbutler 2017
Date:   2006-08-18 01:44

Apprenticed all my life. Always learning something new from someone in the field. Formally apprenticed for two years and picked up a lot from others in shops along the way.

jbutler

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: ajhogan 
Date:   2006-08-18 08:58

I have always been interested in clarinet repair work. Does anyone have any recommendations for clarinet repair books that I could teach myself through.

Austin

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: johnsonfromwisconsin 
Date:   2006-08-18 10:18

I've been repairing for about two years now. I started with a music medic kit, some good craftsmen screwdrivers, and a junk YAS-23 off an internet listing. I currently only work on my own horns, but an trying to branch out to aquiring what professionals repairmen might deem *worthless* instruments due to value vs work needed, spend the time to do proper repairs on them, turn around and sell them only to reinvest by aquiring new junk horns and tools. The help from the community has been instrumental to my instruction and I'm getting better.  :)

There is a lot of range of competency out there. One of the most important things is to follow honorable practices: don't hammer shut cups so that they seal long enough to get it out the door, and so on.

-JfW

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Synonymous Botch 
Date:   2006-08-18 11:16

I'm basing my conclusions on a VERY small sample, without any scientific rigor...

I believe there is an inverse relationship between the number of people employed and the degree of attention paid to details.

(Large shops have large overhead and need either volume or high fees.)

Therefore, I prefer to patronize a sole proprietor.



The money (around here, anyway) is in school district contracts.

There seems to be more interest in beating brass than seating pads, too.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2006-08-20 09:22

"(Large shops have large overhead and need either volume or high fees.)

I see this as a myth provided as a cover for excessive charges, and the cost of covering for the substandard workmanship of some employees. (Or do you call that "overheads"?)

I am self employed and make no sales. I believe my overheads are a LOT higher than those of PER TECHNICIAN in a large establishment. To do the work efficiently, I have to Carry much the same stock and equipment. Each extra employee needs only a few extra basic tools.

But perhaps I have missed somthing.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Cuisleannach 
Date:   2006-08-21 05:45

One of the nice things about apprenticing is that you are prevented from making a lot of stupid mistakes from inexperience.

One of the bad things about apprenticing is that you are prevented from making a lot of stupid mistakes from inexperience.

It doesn't take too many times of disassembling and re-assembling the keys of an instrument to teach you that order does matter, or that pads will seat poorly if they're not seated properly. You do learn a lot of tricks of the trade (such as how to use leak lights and pad slicks, how to properly swedge keys), but you'll also be doing a lot of scut work (such as my least favorite, key buffing).

A big advantage to an apprenticeship is that you will have the opportunity to work on a relatively large number of instruments that you might not achieve by teaching yourself. You also have a professional there (hopefully) who can catch your mistakes before they go back in the case and out the door with a paying customer. You also have the opportuinty to learn to fix a lot of different instruments, if that's you're goal. Learning to solder, re-lacquer, and pull dents out of brass instruments (including saxes) is somewhat easy if learned under an expert but very difficult to learn on your own, and a lot of tools are needed for that kind of work. You may never get the chance to pull all the keys off and repad a bassoon or a bari sax unless you work in a shop.

There are plusses and minuses to both approaches. My personal advice is that learning on your own is usually fine if you only want to learn on one instrument (although after some time spent doing it yourself it might be very productive to work with an expert to see how he or she solves problems). For working on more than one instrument (or especially more than one class of instrument) I'd probably recommend an apprenticeship.

For the record, I served an apprenticeship.

-Randy

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2006-08-21 06:46

To do the job well, requires a lot of analytical thinking... analysing the problems, analysing the various solutions.

If one is self taught, then these basic mechanical analysis skills have to be excellent, in order to be successful.

If one has formal training but does not have the basic analysis 'bent', then one is really only learning to follow a recipe, which works in some cases, but by no means all.

I am glad I am basically self-taught, because I have had to think about, and justify in my mind through understanding, every process I carry out.

Eventually, at age 45, I pursued formal training in mechanical engineering, starting with the topic "Engineering Materials", because I thought it was relevant to my work, but followed by all the other topics to finish a qualification, mainly for intellectual recreation.

This study was made far easier because I already had the "pegs" of practical experience to "hang" the information on, compared with the young students for whom much of the course was relatively abstract.

This study did not CHANGE the way I worked, but provided a formal and mathematical analysis, and richer understanding of what had already become intuitive.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-08-21 13:11

Is it worthwhile for me to have a NAMIR or NAPBIRT certificate?

As I don't have any recognised qualifications for doing my job, even though I feel I can do a good job - I don't want to boast but I can certainly put a lot of repairers around here to shame, and they have these certificates - but it seems even though they may have the framed certificate on their wall doesn't mean they're good at their job (even some that have gone to Merton or Newark don't seem to know what they're doing), and I wonder just exactly what the recognised organisations are looking for.

Chris.

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: am0032 
Date:   2006-08-21 14:53

Formal school training is always a good idea. If you want to make a full time profession out of repair, learning all the instruments will also make you more marketable in finding a job. Apprenticing is always good. Having said that, the people you are working under (if starting from scratch) are trying to make a living first and can't always dedicate the appropriate amount of time that you will need to learn the craft sufficiently. At most repair schools you will be taught multiple ways from multiple teachers to approach and solve problems. At school, instruction is their number one priority, not just the left over time between repads. Self teaching is great but slow going. You learn a lot of wrong ways along with the right ones. Why not skip how not to do it and learn the correct way. Just like most of us have taken clarinet lessons to learn to play our instruments correctly, the same works for repair.

Adam

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 Re: What Training is Required to be Considered a Professional Clarinet Repairer?
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2006-08-21 23:38

"it seems even though they may have the framed certificate on their wall doesn't mean they're good at their job "

Very, very true.

And there is one common, "respected" certificate that technicians can brandish simply by paying a subscription.

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