On Saturday, 15 students turned up for the start of the first-ever course for piano-tuners to be organised in Belgium.
The course is organised by Piano’s Maene in Ruislede, a small town between Ghent and Bruges. Maene, however, is the country’s largest piano dealer, and also reckoned to be one of the leading piano firms in the country, whether for construction, concert rental, sale or maintenance.
The last of those has encountered a major problem – the shortage of fully trained piano tuners in Belgium, thanks to a lack of training courses.
“In our neighbour countries there are official, multi-year courses for piano technicians at bachelor level, for example at the HMC in Amsterdam,” said Stefaan Vanfleteren of Piano’s Maene, referring to the woodworking and furniture-making college in the Dutch capital.
“Unfortunately, there is no training on offer in higher education in Belgium, which means there is a great shortage of highly qualified piano tuners and technicians.”
In the past, Maene has offered its own in-house training, and the Flemish training agency Syntra has organised ad hoc courses, and now the two partners have joined forces to organise a fully-fledged training.
When the invitation to prospective trainees went out in July, Syntra received 60 applications. Those candidates were whittled down at interview, and when the course opened on Saturday, 15 students were admitted.
“Since the lockdown, the music and events sector has had a hard time,” Vanfleteren said.
“On the other hand, people are more involved with music than ever in the family. Time and often financial space was freed up to finally take up the hobby that people always dreamed of, and this is also evident from the interest in recent months.”
People are also turning away from electronic instruments for the sonic and tactile pleasures of the acoustic piano. Maene not only sells all of the major name-brands, but builds its own pianos in-house.
“The growing demand for acoustic pianos creates a growing need for piano technicians and tuners. For our company, the influx of this new critical resource is essential for further growth. Many graduates will be able to work at Piano’s Maene after their training, others will continue their profession as independent entrepreneurs,” Vanfleteren said.