« I was born into a musical family. As a child at Thiviers (Dordogne), I used to watch in wonder the piano tuner who came to my parents and neighbours houses. He used to say: When you know how to work with wood as well as me, I will take you on as an
apprentice » remembers Jean-Pierre KERRINCKX.
He obtained a diploma as a technical cabinet maker in Biarritz, and came back as a apprentice to a piano maker Bordeaux where he stayed for several years: He housed me but i was not paid. We worked in a dark workshop, lit by a small lamp.After is military service, he set up on hisown in this first workshop in a old garage at Thiviers in 1982,the year when he began restoring, and tuning pianos with true traditional craftsmanship.Then followed the Atelier du Piano« , first at Trélissac (also in Dordogne), and now situated in Périgueux, the department’s main town.
A fervent craftsman
Handling keys and assorted tools, for him,his work is a real passion: « It’s a true craftsman’s job. It takes time,patience and attention to detail. I do not count the hours. For me, old pianos, I calculate according to their needs. I review note by note » explains Jean-Pierre. They often arrive at the workshop in a very bad state « Family pianos which have not been played for years and i am asked to restore them for the grandchildren« . Usually, everything has to be looked at, framework, pegs, wire, felts .. If the keys are ivory, they are retained as far as is possible. The exterior wood is rubbed down and polished: « « I often have several attempts at the colour. I am a perfectionist.« .
piano, is a complex and fragile instrument. It is therefore important to allow a piano to age well, take various essential précautions to avoid mechanical problems that the wood is not warped, not allowed to get out of tune (« something neglected more and more often » he says sadly, « even if its played a little « ), etc…
Maintaining a piano is a little like maintaining a car « An irrefutable logic .An irrefutable logic .
Onse should estimate a minimum of 1.300 euros for a second-hand practice piano. And do not hesitate to have a valuation for all purchases,, service provided by Jean-Pierre: there can be nastly surprises!
Do ont be mistaken, an old piano will never have the tone of a new instrument, manufacturing processes have developed, « But for the owner, it retains a sentimental value. » One should not only examine the technical side of a piano. « Each piano has its own soulTwo pianos of the same make, built in a identical way, do not sound the same. Many elements come into play: the cabinet making, resonance of the sounding-board … » explains Jean-Pierre, who has had the pleasure of playing great instruments. He has also tuned many concert pianos: « You arrive early afternoon, tune first for the rehearsal and then again before the concert. And then you stay all the evening. I have worked with France Clidat, Catherine Collard, Miguel-Angel Estrella … Also some variety artists, such as Lenorman Gérard, Gilbert Bécaud … «
Taken from Chantal GIBERT ‘s articles in the Sud-Ouest to 23.12.1996 and 22.08.2000