Source: Steinway B, photographer unknown
One of my joys in being a piano technician is in developing relationships with my clients. This work/craft/career is unique in that we see our clients regularly, usually every 6 months or year or a little less frequently if the piano is not being used much. They become like those family members you see only occasionally, whether by choice or by distance.

Over a period of time that very quickly turns from months to decades, we get to know our clients. We see the kids grow from being toddlers and tykes to high school students, college graduates and beyond. We get to know their pianos, pets and personalities. We feel pangs of grief when the familiar old feline is no longer underfoot, or the dog doesn’t howl when we start to tune the high treble. The connections we form with them are a good measure of the passage of time; rewarding, but a double edged sword.

Something I was not ready for was the email I received the other day from the grown daughter of a client of 20 years. Paraphrased, it said, “Hi Dave. I am Susan’s daughter. Sadly, my mother passed away unexpectedly in December of last year. We would like to continue to keep the piano in good condition, so could we schedule an appointment for tuning?”

How could this be, I asked myself. When I last saw her in August of 2020, Susan seemed healthier than I’d seen her for several years. Feeling shock and sadness, I composed an email of condolence. I hadn’t been aware that she had been suffering from cancer for years.

Her daughter and I arranged an appointment to tune her Steinway B. After considering the regular service I did for Susan over a 20 year period, and her generosity (she always added a good tip!) I decided that I would give this one to her daughter in memory of her mother.

Two weeks later, I tuned the B, which was right at pitch with only a few notes out of tune. A tear came to my eye as I worked, and I swear I felt Susan’s presence as I worked up and down the keyboard. It was, after all, her favorite thing in the whole world.