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Meet Teri Meredyth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Teri Meredyth.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Teri. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Pianos have always been important to me. I started lessons when I was six and played all through high school, enjoying both classical and jazz. In college, I pursued being a Piano Performance Major for about a year and a half, then came to my senses! I didn’t want to become yet another starving musician, so I got a BA in Psychology (which would later prove helpful). Midway through college, I married, and my husband decided to work toward becoming a therapist in graduate school.

Realizing I would need to support us for several years, I decided to try working on pianos. Fortunately, I seemed to have the right gifts and talents, and becoming a piano technician/rebuilder became my main focus. I was able to begin earning a real living within about two years, thanks to wonderful mentors and colleagues. Sadly, the marriage didn’t survive, but the career has! I continue to enjoy piano work to this day, nearly forty years after I first got my start.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth is probably not the right word to describe it! I do feel very blessed as if God opened the right doors for me every step along the way. When I began apprenticing, I was twenty-three years old… cute, blonde and articulate. There were far fewer women involved in piano work then, and my first mentor asked me “if I could take a lot of guff”. It was very clear I would need to let my work speak for itself, and I worked hard to learn all the mechanical skills needed to become an excellent piano tech. I also learned how to work successfully with all kinds of clients; this is hugely important in our business. Experience honed both skill and character!

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to do concert work, and once I moved to the Los Angeles area, I was able to pursue that dream. I was fortunate to have as mentor/teachers two highly respected local piano technicians, and I worked with them both for several years. In 1987, I was at the right place at the right time and was hired to become the House Piano Technician at UCLA’s Royce Hall. There I maintained three concert grands (including rebuilding them as needed) and tuned for all the events that took place in the hall. I learned to work with world-class artists of every genre, sometimes sticking my neck out in the process! It was the job of a lifetime, and I could not be more grateful for the thirty years I was honored to spend there. I chose to leave in 2017, just wanting to slow down a bit and have more control over my own schedule.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a company of one, and it feels a little uncomfortable to keep talking about myself! I tune and maintain pianos in both home and performance settings, the latter including concert halls, recording studios and churches. I also perform all aspects of action regulation (adjustment), voicing and minor repair, keeping my clients’ pianos clean along the way. When an instrument is in need of major restoration, it comes into my shop for action replacement, soundboard and bridge repair, pin block replacement, restringing and damper replacement. I do not do refinishing; that is an art best left to others!

I believe I am known for getting the best out of a particular instrument. Many times this involves taking care of overdue maintenance, particularly action regulation and voicing (adjusting the tone of the piano). Since I’ve maintained concert instruments for so long, I have the experience to assess a piano’s potential. Then I can use my skills to match that potential to its owner’s expectations and hopefully exceed them. Listening carefully to the client is very important in my work; people often don’t know how to express what they would like to be different about their pianos. I’m proud to have worked for many of my clients for decades now, and I’m happy “word of mouth” is my only advertisement.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Piano work is not something one can learn from a book, so mentors are everything in our business! Walt Brown of Walt’s Piano Service in Tucson, AZ was my first boss. He took me in knowing nothing and taught me the basics of tuning, repair and rebuilding. A few years later, when I moved to LA, I was fortunate to get into a weekly class with Francis Mehaffey (Pomona piano tech./rebuilder) and LaRoy Edwards (Yamaha Piano Service). This was invaluable in forming my understanding of good piano service. Later on, I worked informally with both Norman Neblett and Richard Davenport, and it is they who are really responsible for my success as a piano tech. When I was experienced enough, I began doing work for David Abell Fine Pianos (Beverly Hills), and it was David who gifted me with an incredible client base. I also worked for many years as a contract consultant for Yamaha Piano Service (Yamaha Corp. of America), and I’m grateful for all I learned from everyone involved there. I’ve also had a great relationship with the Bösendorfer company, and enjoyed working in their factory during a seminar.

The Piano Technicians Guild (www.ptg.org) has been the most important pillar of support in my journey as a piano technician. There I found a home in my local PTG chapter and met wonderful colleagues, many of whom are now lifelong friends. I was able to attend classes, seminars and conventions. I’ve given back by doing a little teaching myself and by volunteering as a PTG Certified Tuning Examiner for thirty years now.

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Image Credit:

Reed Hutchinson, Bettina Bienefeld

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