|Rachel working on a Powell Custom Piccolo
We've had a couple of people ask us recently about becoming repair technicians. What does it take to get started? Is this something you train to do? We sat down with Powell's Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, to see how she got started.
|Working with your hands is a daily part of the job
In her junior year of high school, she went to work for her local music store. She began by cleaning rental instruments and was eventually able to apprentice with one of the repair technicians at the store. Her training in repair started by repadding alto saxophones. She said that alto saxophones have "a little bit of everything -- clarinet-type pads, flute-type adjustments, " so it was a good place to start. After high school, she chose to enroll in a repair school program at Western Iowa Tech and received her Associate's Degree in Applied Sciences in Band Instrument Repair. Rachel emphasized that attending repair school is very important, especially in current times when apprenticeships are very rare. She mentioned a few others programs in Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin -- and we happened to find a comparison chart of these programs at http://www.probirt.com/nm/repair-schools/repair-schools.asp. Additional information may be found on the NAPBIRT (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians) website at http://www.napbirt.org/repair-schools---. Rachel mentioned that it is important to research the repair school programs and find out as much as possible. She says, "it may not be for everyone..." In her class of 10, she said that she might be the only one still doing repair -- so it is truly important to investigate before you commit to a program.
During her studies in Iowa, Rachel worked at her hometown's local music store during holiday breaks and vacations. When she completed her studies, she returned to work at the shop full-time. There were 3 repair technicians (including Rachel), which she found quite helpful. She said that as for the repair techs, "everyone did everything, and you could ask people for help." To be a repair technician, Rachel also mentioned that it is helpful if you can play different instruments. Rachel played trumpet and sousaphone in her high school marching band, oboe in her high school concert band and orchestra, and flute in private lessons and concert band. She added that while in college, she also played in a bassoon quartet. She has played single reed instruments as well but told us that she prefers "double reeds and no reeds." Sounds fair enough!
|Rachel's "to do" area of the shop