Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Year 1 is nearly finished

Hi all! It's hard to believe that not only has it been a year since I made a post here, but also it's been a year since I returned from Colorado and started my business. The good news is I have been way too busy to do any writing.

So what's happened? Well a lot of great experiences and important lessons in the first year, that's for sure. Overall I would say that I'm very happy with my results so far not just from an earnings perspective but overall for the business in terms of networking, business development and professional development. I've been fortunate that I've had to make some choices about where to devote my energies and have actually turned work down on a couple of occasions where I felt it was not the right thing for me at this time.

- landing steady work with Merriam Pianos has been a blessing and I can't say enough about what a great bunch of people they are to work with. Very professional and personable, and I get to work on some nice new pianos.
- landing steady work with Steve Jackson pianos. Steve is also a great guy and has been extremely generous with his knowledge and time with me. I have learned a ton of stuff about rebuilding pianos with Steve and I'm grateful for the experience.
- the private clientele is developing well, although there have been a few gut wrenching dropouts in business from one month to the next. April was less than one tenth of March and the summer has been dead.
- I got my first rebuilding job! It's a beautiful Steinway A grand that was a thrill to work on. Here's a little slideshow of the project.

- being in traffic a lot SUCKS. I could write a whole posting about the horrors of it but we all live with it every day. One of my long term goals is to reduce my on-the-road time to 50% and spend the other 50% in my shop. I'll earn less but it's worth it to me.
- working on a lot of really awful old pianos for some private clients is not that fun but there's always a lesson. I had one really awful old thing that I could hardly tune and then the owner/mom told me both of her girls got their RCM grade 9 on it. You can never judge. Other times the really beautiful pianos sit unplayed and unloved.
- I stink at bookkeeping.

- none.

Other observations:
- most people are really nice when they have you in their homes. I've been variously offered soup, dumplings, and tea (no sex though), and always enjoy being offered little slippers at the Chinese homes, usually three sizes too small. Some people are not so hospitable though. If you had someone in your house for 2-3 hours would you at least offer them a glass of water?
- most new pianos are bought by Chinese people. I would say 75% of my Merriam calls are to Chinese homes.
- my funniest moment came when I was distracted by some sort of commotion behind me while tuning a piano, and turned around to find my client's dog chewing on MY shoe!

So in all, it's been a very satisfying start and I am as keen as ever to push ahead. The priorities for year two will be to lessen dependence on retailers for work focusing on private in home work, and to develop my skills and clientele in the restoration work.

Talk to you again next year!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Hello friends, family and colleagues

I am pleased to announce the launch of Paul Clement Piano Services.

As many of you know I have been away for a year studying at the University of Western Ontario and the Aspen Music Festival and School and am now open for business.

Paul Clement Piano Services provides a complete range of services including tuning, general repairs and maintenance, appraisals, and reconditioning to all makes and sizes of pianos.

I'm offering a special introductory rate on tuning services to get things rolling.

Please call, email or
visit me on the web to learn more.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My new website is up

Check out my website when you get a moment:

Paul Clement Piano Services -

I won't really be in business until September but as I've learned, most of the search engines need several weeks to list your site so I'm trying to get a jump on that.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm here

I made it to Colorado without a hitch a couple of weeks back and have been running around quite a bit since.

Random thoughts and observations:
  • It's really beautiful here. I think heaven should be like this.
  • Who turned off the air? Snowmass Village is at elevation 7,914 feet and the air is quite thin up here. It's taken me a couple of weeks to adjust and not huff and puff after climbing even small inclines.
  • School/work is going great. There's a pretty interesting cast of characters here and tons of work to keep us busy. We are doing about 3-4 tunings per day on brand new, just out of the box pianos and frankly, they're a pain in the ass when they're new. But I can already feel my skills growing.
  • At least half the students (out of 750) at the music school are Chinese, and they are awesome musicians. Teach your children to speak Mandarin.
  • We can get lots of free tickets to just about any event here at the festival, so come on down and visit me! This weekend we're going to a couple of orchestra concerts featuring some Beethoven symphonies and on Saturday there's a jazz festival going on - we're going to check out the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
  • Dale and Madeline are coming down next week and I can hardly wait!
I guess that's all for now.

Have a great summer everyone!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


It's been a big day.

I got my Visa paperwork in the courier today, so everything is go for heading down to Aspen. This was a little scary for me with the last minute change to my sponsor company due to some screw ups and I honestly thought at one point last week I wasn't going to make it and would have to cancel the whole thing. This picture you see here is my actual route in Yahoo Maps - I'm going to spend one night in Davenport, Iowa, another in Sterling, Colorado and then it's off to Aspen.

I got my housing information for Aspen today too and it is suh-weet! It's real nice two bedroom condo in Snowmass Village which is just a few miles from Aspen and the Music School. Nice view too.

And, we finished off our term 2 project piano today. This was the 1906 Heintzman baby grand we worked on if you don't remember, and everything about it was a total pain in the ass, but I'll tell you something: when we finally got the new strings on and tuned it up it sounds really, really nice, so it was definitely all worth it.

So now, school ends for real in a few days and I can hardly believe it. It's going to be sad.

I hope that the next few posts you will see on here will be a little road journal of my long drive across 'Merka.


Friday, April 25, 2008


OK, so I'm the poster boy for blog-neglect. Report me.

I see that I have been away for quite a while now but between Spring (hell, Summer) arriving and closing off the main part of my course my time has been at a premium.

So, yes, the main part of the course is finished now; I wrote finals last week and I am told by my instructors that I will graduate "with distinction", and I do have just one more final exam on April 29 for my Jazz History elective, but that shouldn't pose any problems. I've been enjoying the last 7 days or so back in Mississauga chillin with the fam and charging up my batteries. I'll head back to London on the weekend and then it's another 4 weeks of an optional program specialized on piano rebuilding, whereas the previous curriculum has focused on maintenance and repair.

April was pretty exciting as well; we spent a week at Interlochen, which is a performing arts high school/piano torture chamber in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan. It was really beautiful up there and we had a good few days of hard work and hard partying. Pictures here.

And of course the highlight was definitely the trip to New York City and Boston. We spent 3 days in NYC and just one in Boston. NY is really everything you would imagine it to be and I was kind of surprised by how much I felt like I already knew it, but I guess all those years of movies and television will do that. It was a really great trip personally and professionally, and for sure I would like to go back there some day with the girls. Boston was cool too but we only had a few free hours there one evening so it wasn't that rewarding.

Looking ahead, I have to get through these last 4 weeks of school and then I have another week off, and then I am away to Aspen for my ten week internship at the Aspen Music Festival and School. This is going to be really exciting and is like a slingshot for me into the future with my new profession. Me and another guy from class Damon Groves will be looking after the 200+ pianos that will be arriving at the festival for the summer activities. I'm told that if I can start my days early enough I can finish up at 1 or 2 pm and then enjoy the mountains for the rest of the day. Mmmm. I did have a bit of a scare last week getting my Visa in order. I need an internship Visa and was using a firm that acts on my behalf to make all the arrangements with the State Department or whatever it is. So, 4 weeks into the process they phone to inform me that their Visa program is only available to persons under 30 years of age and they can't help me. Gee, thanks for waiting 4 weeks to tell me that. So after a bit of a scramble I found another firm and we just might make it in time. It's only 5 1/2 weeks away.

And so, I will drive myself across the Great Plains; Michigan, Indiana, Illinois (and across the Mighty Mississippi), Iowa (didn't know so many "I" states were together), Nebraska and Colorado. I guess it's about the same distance as driving to the south of Florida, and I'm told having a car there is a great advantage but I might say screw it and just fly down. Not sure if I'm up for a 3 day drive, and I suppose it will really be coming home that will be worse.

Enjoy the beautiful Spring weather - been a long time coming.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008