Music & Arts boasts the largest repair network in the United States but at the heart of it is a team of certified experts who believe in their mission of giving your instrument the finest care possible. Director of Repair & Refurbishment Services Pat Wiegand talks shop with Marketing Director Renier Fee about personalizing repairs, building expertise, and fixing common instrument problems.
You oversee 40 Repair Shops which service over 600 locations across the country. That requires a lot of organizational and logistical magic! How do you keep the repair business “personal”?
It can be very easy to get lost in the magnitude of the number of locations and shops that service over 140,000+ customers instruments and 200,000+ rental instruments annually. The real answer is we do them one instrument at a time.
Our skilled technicians approach each repair as if it was their own instrument. In life, we all strive to leave our mark and influence others. It is not often you can take your passion and make it a profession. In the repair field we see something different each day and must adapt our ways to find a solution, constantly refining our processes to achieve a goal. This affects the lives of musicians at many levels; from the professional musician who depends on his/her instrument for their livelihood, to the student who didn’t realize it was their instrument holding them back from succeeding in band class.
Fixing our customers instruments is our way of leaving our mark on other’s lives. The repair department is passionate about their craft and strives to make each instrument the best that it can be, so that we can all continue our climb. This is the basis for our tag line “You play them with your heart and soul, we fix them with ours!’
The Repair Shop in Frederick, MD is the largest shop in the country. What makes this location unique?
The Frederick Repair shop is really two shops in one. It is the largest full-service repair facility in the country, and the primary refurbishment center for Music & Arts’ vast rental fleet. At the same time it also acts as a local repair shop for the Maryland/Northern Virginia markets.
This facility was built from the perspective of the technician. Natural light, which is very desirable for any technician, floods the 20,000+ square foot facility, also included are buffing rooms, wet room, soldering stations and humidity room which are all tied together with a state of the art dust collection system. This helps keep the work area free from buffing compound, and other airborne particles. We believe creating a work environment such as this, makes our technicians happier and more productive. This insight and planning has produced the shop you see today – a productive, safe facility designed to encourage the continual development of our technicians and staff.
Early in the design process we really wanted a dedicated space that focused on continued education and assisted our technicians in honing their craft. We are thankful to work with so many talented technicians, and building a training center allows us to formalize that collaborative nature. In the past we’ve also welcomed vendors such as Yamaha and Fox who’ve been gracious enough to come in and demonstrate new products and to work with our technicians and show them some of their tips and tricks. It’s been very rewarding to have such a space and we’re grateful to have a forward-thinking company that wants to invest so much in their employees.
There are 150+ instrument repair technicians on your repair team. Tell me about a few of your veterans.
We have a plethora of experience throughout all of our shops, so to name a few would not paint the full picture. I’d rather tell you a little about our shop leadership team. Our shops are led by industry veterans. Jon Mills, John Blythe, Joel Tellock, Pete Riccardo and Larry Phetteplace are simply the best of the best. Each of them brings a wealth of knowledge to the bench and enjoys sharing their craft with educators, band directors, and the next generation of repair technicians. If you have the opportunity, please come out and attend one of their clinics, or stop by their shops.
Jon Mills is a graduate from Red Wing Technical College with a degree in Band Instrument Repair Technology. Jon has been with the Music & Arts repair department since 1999 and performs the role of District Repair Manager upon which he oversees 5 retail repair shops in the southeast. He has delivered numerous repair clinics for Music & Arts at National Conventions. He has presented clinics in regional and national settings and is a master clinician for the National Association of Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT). Jon has a total of 30 years’ experience in the industry performing Brass and Woodwind repair full-time and is based out of Charlotte NC where he is a highly sought after technician by many musicians and educators in the region.
John Blythe has over 35 years in musical instrument repair performing brass, woodwind & percussion repair. After owning his own shop for over twelve years, in 2005, John came to work for Music & Arts as a repair service manager. John is currently a District Repair Manager for Music & Arts covering North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania & Delaware regions. He has delivered emergency repair seminars to band directors across the country as well as NAPBIRT regional and national repair clinics to repairmen from the US and other countries. John was awarded the Dick Rush Award for outstanding clinic at the 2011 National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technician’s Conference.
Joel graduated from the Allied Musical Instrument Repair School in 1979. He started his career at Lyons Music, which was then American Music a few years later. He has worked for Music & Arts since 2005, as a shop manager and now the West District Repair Manager. Joel has given repair clinics in schools as well as the Itasca Illinois repair facility to beginners, college students, and seasoned educators. His most recent MEA clinic was the 2016 CMEA conference in Colorado Springs, as well as the Music & Arts DuPage Clinic, and shop clinics. Joel is a member of NAPBIRT, the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians, and works on brass, woodwinds, orchestral strings and percussion.
Pete attended and graduated from Eastern school of Musical Instrument Repair, New Jersey. Upon graduation joined up with his Dad (Riccardo’s Music Center) in Connecticut and established a successful repair shop servicing much of CT. After many years of managing the shop and eventually 5 stores, Pete joined forces with Music & Arts. He is presently District Manager for the Northeast. He has assisted in shops throughout the country for Music & Arts and has performed numerous workshops for the Music Educators Association throughout the Northeast. Included in his 40 years of experience at the bench, are also years of priceless bench time with numerous highly respected and knowledgeable technicians throughout the Music & Arts Staff of Technicians. He is currently and has been a member of NAPBIRT for 40 years.
Larry Phetteplace is currently the district repair manager for Music & Arts in Texas. Larry graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He received a vocational degree from the Red Wing Area Vocational—Technical Institute in musical string instrument repair in 1981. Larry moved to Texas in 1981 and worked in a number of repair and repair supervisory positions until joining the Music & Arts team in 2006.
Who are your rookie all-stars?
We have wonderfully talented rising stars. Key skills for this trade include the right type of hand coordination and problem solving skills. We are successful in recruiting our talent from the trade schools where they have received a strong foundation to build upon. In the recent past, Music & Arts has developed its own curriculum to grow their rookie technician’s skill sets and has dedicated annual in-house classes delivered by our most experienced technicians. This has been a great tool to make all of our rookie’s all-stars.
Last year, Music & Arts collaborated with Arlington Independent School District to teach Musical Instrument Repair to its students and award a certification to those who complete the two-year curriculum. This partnership is revolutionary, and has received national attention for its forward thinking. This type of program will allow the Arlington students to graduate with skills that will make them job-ready.
That is a lot of experience and talent that I imagine speaks to the high quality of repairs.
Yes, we are extremely fortunate to have so many talented technicians. We use this expertise to provide the highest quality repairs for the value. Music & Arts employs technicians of all ages and experience levels. This furnishes an environment that promotes ongoing education. Our experienced staff teaches our incoming personnel to develop the next generation of expert technicians. Though our technicians are spread out across the country, we utilize our multi-shop network to better-serve our customers. Whether we are searching out a hard to find part or seeking advice on a difficult repair our technicians work together to provide first-rate service. This unity and depth of knowledge is what provides Music & Arts with the service advantage.
Where can educators connect with your repair techs?
Music & Arts participates in numerous national, state, regional, and In-Service Music Educator based events. We provide repair clinics at many of these events to share with educators’ tips and tricks for emergency repair in-house to save on their budget. We are always looking for opportunities to share and educate our current and potential customer base. Educators are encouraged to contact us via our website if they have interest in hosting one of these informative repair clinic events.
You can contact us directly at TheRepairShop@musicarts.com with questions or comments. Be sure to stop by our Music & Arts booth at your local Music Educator Conference and check your conference schedule as we present Educator Repair Clinics at conferences across the US.
My team is working closely with yours on The Director’s Fix Kit. Can you share with our readers what this is and why it’s essential in their classroom?
The Director’s Fix Kit is one of the best values for music Educators who understand the importance of keeping their kids playing. Often, a simple adjustment or small repair is all that is needed to keep their student’s instrument in their hands. The kit allows the educators to make these small repairs to keep their students playing. This allows the schools save their budget for larger more technical repairs that require a visit to the repair shop. This kit has the potential to accomplish these simple repairs and is presented in a convenient compact and safe package. The Directors Fix Kit can be used in the band room or can travel with you to important events, in the event of a surprise repair need.
In closing, what is the most frequent instrument repair request and can you give educators a free repair tip for it?
One of the most common, and easily avoidable, repair requests we receive is “frozen slides” on brass instruments. This is one of the many tips we give music educators during our repair clinics. Therefore, we highly recommend taking the first 5 to 10 minutes of class once a month to have a greasing party. Each brass player removes their tuning slides and greases each slide of their instrument. This is a super easy way to avoid stuck slides and never have to pay any technician to remove a frozen slide again. We also recommend that educators do the same during the last week of class to their school owned inventory before they are stored for the summer.
For a brass instrument I would recommend buying a mouthpiece truing tool and a mouthpiece puller. They will save you significant time and you can stop explaining the plier marks on your child’s mouthpiece.
If you have a woodwind instrument, it would be beneficial to purchase a spring hook and a small screwdriver.
Orchestral users would benefit from some peg dope for the pegs. For all of the percussionists out there, use the correct sticks and mallets for every instrument.
If it comes with a cover use it, if not buy one.
Want more repair tips? Learn how to properly care for and repair your instrument.
Interview by Renier Fee