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Meet Nori Kashiwa of Nori’s Piano Service in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nori Kashiwa.

Nori, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was about twenty years old my close friend had decided to quit his part-time job at this piano store near my house in San Jose, and I took over. The job consisted of cleaning pianos, sweeping the floor, taking out the trash, etc., but then I learned to do some piano exterior touch up and action repair work. After couple years, I moved back to Japan and studied at Yamaha Piano Technical Academy in Hamamatsu for a year. Then I returned to the same piano store in San Jose and started working as a full-time in-house piano tuner. Now I work independently and go back and forth between LA and San Jose. It also gives me an excuse to visit my hometown pretty often.

Has it been a smooth road?
I would say that I was fortunate enough to have always faced certain challenges. The Yamaha academy was pretty intense. We lived in a dorm with no cars, no computers…, nothing. (They did however have a vending machine for alcohols.) The training messes with your head and can get overwhelming at times. Then, when I started working, I was suddenly responsible of taking care of over a hundred new and used pianos in the store showroom, while having to go out and tune pianos or take care of warranty issues at the customers’ places. You face new problems every day, and have to figure it out quick, or you’ll make your customer nervous.

I was constantly trying to find faster, more efficient and effective ways to work. I would work the whole day, work overtime, and once I’m done working, I would go grab food, go back to the store, and practice tuning or regulation sometimes until 3AM in the morning. I wanted to study the pianos in my free time, so that I wouldn’t have to panic under pressure. A technician in his sixties told me once that I would have to tune pianos a couple thousand times before I can call myself a real tuner. I probably tuned over three thousand in the first few years, not counting the repair work.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Nori’s Piano Service – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I often introduce myself as a piano tuner, but what a proper piano technician does is so much more than just tuning. What I provide is consultation and maintenance/repair service for pianos.

In my tuning fee, I include inspection and usually about 30 min. of other extra adjustments. This gives me a little room to work on what I find to be necessary and of priority, even if the client doesn’t specifically ask for it. I still explain to my clients and let them know what I would be working on, but in many case they are surprised by how good the outcome is.

That’s when I feel the proudest of what I do. I get countless feedbacks, whether in person, emails, or online reviews, from my clients telling me how they love and are inspired by the new sound of their pianos and how they can’t believe it’s the same piano they’ve owned for the last 20 years.

I’ve been asked in the past to do concert tuning for a tour or in a big recording studio, but I really enjoy establishing long-term relationships with household pianos or small studios, and at the same time informing/educating the pianos’ owners to help them take better care of their pianos.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I love about LA is definitely the people. So much so that I ended up marrying one of them. My wife is a film music composer and she also plays piano much better than I do.

In this city, nobody judges you for going after what you love or what you believe. It’s just so inspiring to live among such ambitious group of people.

As a piano technician, it’s always fun working with serious musicians, young and seasoned. Although I’ve worked in San Jose for several years before moving here, the way I do my business today is largely built upon my experience with new clients here in LA.

I also love films, and recently started working in that field as a translator and speech coach.

Again, I love that I’m free to do what I love and not only do people not judge you for it, they are very supportive of it too.

I guess I’m not fond of the expensive housing market here, but I come from the Silicon Valley, so it’s not much of a downgrade. Oh, people’s driving sucks in LA. Also, the traffic and parking tickets.

Pricing:

  • Tuning (Inspection, Tuning, & Minor Adjustments) – $120
  • Hammer Work (Alignment, Filing, & Voicing) – $75 to $120

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Dementi

    September 18, 2019 at 17:25

    Very good writeup! I shared your blog on my Twitter. I hope my followers are going to appreciate your writing as well.
    Good luck for the future.

  2. Peter Izmailov

    October 2, 2019 at 01:07

    Amazing! Thanks a lot for tһe агticle!

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