Based out of Frederick, Maryland, Kirk Evans is a string repair technician with Music & Arts. In addition to repairing instruments, he ensures consistency in repairs, proficiency in new trainees, and peace of mind with Tylenol.
You’ve been a leader within the Music & Arts repair team for 16 years. What did you do before that?
Before coming to Music & Arts in January of 2000, I was primarily employed as a pre-press layout artist in the offset printing industry since 1977 and held several long term positions in companies in Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. I began repairing stringed instruments about the same time (1977), training with string instrument repair technician Gregory Aulsh for both The Susquehanna Music Co. and BCR Music in Harrisburg, PA. I continued to do freelance and contract repair work for various independent music stores and individuals throughout my printing career.
What instruments are you trained in repairing?
There is a Quality Assurance program for Music & Arts repairs. Can you tell Educators what this is and explain your involvement?
Music & Arts currently has a Quality Assurance Program in place consisting of a hands on inspection and review of 10% of each technicians total daily refurb production output. This process enables us to monitor and maintain a high standard of quality for each repair technician at Music & Arts. It also helps to ensure that each instrument that has been repaired and refurbished in our shop is clean, structurally sound and correctly set up for overall playability.
You also coach new repair techs. What is the curriculum for your training and how long are the courses?
The curriculum for new repair tech trainees is centered around Music & Arts instrument refurbishment process. Each new tech “in training” is given an overview of the refurbishment process, taught the individual skill sets needed for each step of that process, and is mentored for an average period of 6-10 weeks, depending on individual ability and aptitude.
When techs graduate from your training, what repair certifications will they have?
When a new tech “graduates” from the initial training period, he or she is then allowed to begin working independently with minimal supervision. The newly independent string technician’s work will continue to be inspected and reviewed with the trainer on a regularly basis with an emphasis on increased quality and efficiency. At this point in time, there are no earnable certifications available for Music & Arts string technicians within or outside of the company.
What is the most common repair request you see? Do you have a quick fix tip?
Sticking or slipping tuning pegs is a very common repair request. If the pegs are slipping, remove the tuning peg and sand peg shaft with a medium grit (220) sandpaper. If the tuning pegs are sticking and hard to turn, remove peg and apply some peg compound (dope) to the portion of the peg shaft that makes contact with the peg hole. Reinstall peg and turn a few times.
What other repair secrets can Educators expect at your clinics? Do your clinics qualify for continuing education credits?
Tips such as how to diagnose and eliminate buzzing, rattles and wolf tones, etc. They can qualify for credits but each educator must reach out to their Cultural Arts supervisor for more CEU credit point information.
Music & Arts rents over 60k+ string instruments to students every year. Those instruments get refurbished at the 112,000 square foot repair center in Frederick, Maryland, where you work. Can you describe what the preparation process is like for back to school season?
- Put all personal and family plans on hold from June 1-October 1.
- Mentally and physically prepare for the extended 6-day work weeks.
- Clear as much space as possible in the shop for all the incoming work.
- Stock up on the Tylenol.
*Interview by Renier Fee.