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Get to Know David Chiu

David playing grand piano

Mother knows best

David’s approach to piano technology combines curiosity and passion. His first exposure to the field came via an arrangement made by his mother when he was 15 years old. “She told me, you play the piano. You should learn to tune your piano.” She arranged for him to work with a piano technician in Taiwan and follow them around for the summer. After this early exposure, he began tuning his own piano and for a few friends. “When I think back to those early tunings, they were probably terrible.”

David tuning a piano

From amateur to pro

Fast forwarding to his college years at UAA, David stayed in Anchorage for the summer. He had free time on his hands and had the idea to work on his piano tuning skills by putting an ad on Craig’s List offering free piano tunings. People started calling him to schedule tunings. These early free tunings often took him 3-4 hours. Although he had no expectation of payment, he was often tipped well. “Someone gave me a $50 tip. Another gave me $75. And someone gave me $200! As someone used to earning minimum wage as a student worker on UAA campus during the school year, I thought, ‘I’m rich!’”

David tuning grand piano

An education

David began to realize that not only was piano work very interesting, it could also be a career. He attended meetings hosted by the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG), asked a lot of questions, and traveled to classes across the country to earn credentials from world-renowned instructors and technicians from places like Steinway, Renner USA, Precision Touch Design, and the PTG. The more information he acquired, the more he realized how much more there was to piano technology than just tuning. “There’s so much that a technician can do to change the characteristics of a piano, and as a pianist that blew my mind.” Learning how to manipulate the sound, touch, and feel of pianos grew David’s mindset for piano technology from a hobby to a career and a passion. “One of my favorite things is when customers notice and appreciate the difference I’ve made through my work. It’s very satisfying.”

The language of music

One way David likes connecting with his clients is through the music he plays after he tunes a piano. He enjoys improvising based on inspiration from his surroundings. “If they have kids, I might play around with some Disney music. If they go to church, I might play a hymn.” If he has some extra time, David has been known to play for awhile after completing a tuning. It’s a chance for him to enjoy the fruits of his labor and share his love of music with customers.


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