In keeping with our commitment to provide the best possible facilities to CalArts students, the Herb Alpert School of Music has had a full-time, year-round piano technician since it opened its doors over forty years ago. For the last twenty-eight years, Alan Eder has cared for our many pianos. A Registered Piano Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild for more than three decades, Alan has published several articles in the Piano Technicians Journal, including an in-depth review of Larry Fine’s “The Piano Book,” pieces on the use of photography in communicating details of piano servicing to clients, and about making recorded tributes of senior technicians, and another focused on the hiring, training and supervising of shop assistants from the vantage point of his years at CalArts. Alan has taught and co-taught classes on a variety of subjects at regional and national conventions of piano technicians, ranging from “Non-Traditional Piano Use” to classes in action geometry, regulation and voicing. Over the decades, Alan has honed his skills at tuning, repairing, regulating and rebuilding our ever-improving fleet of acoustic keyboards while refining his knack for training the student assistants who contribute so much to our piano maintenance effort. Highlights of Alan’s tenure at CalArts include facilitating a major donation for the replacement and ongoing maintenance of pianos; making a video about “Non-Traditional Piano Use” that has become a celebrated primary reference on the subject for pianists and piano technicians alike; developing a program that maximizes students’ contribution to piano maintenance through the federal work-study program, independent studies in piano technology and apprenticeships; and numerous innovations in tools and methods for piano servicing. He has served as the Staff Representative to the Board of Trustees, chaired the Fulbright Advisory Committee, was the first recipient of the CalArts Safety Award and has served on the Safety Committee since its inception. Alan is currently involved in the making of a documentary about the rebuilding of a Steinway grand piano featuring renowned piano rebuilder, Richard Davenport.
And there is another documentary in the works in which, like the one about pianos, Alan is involved on both sides of the camera. This one has to do with African music in America. Prior to being hired as the piano technician here, Alan was a masters student at CalArts in African music, during which time he earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship that took him to Nigeria, West Africa for two years. Alan has co-authored several articles on African music with the founding faculty member of the African music program at CalArts, Kobla Ladzekpo. In addition, Alan has had an ensemble based at CalArts (which brings together current and former CalArts faculty and students) whose repertoire explores the braiding together of traditional West African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean musics. They have performed at many of the major concert venues in the Greater Los Angeles area and have appeared on television and radio broadcasts, most notably a feature piece on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” The two recordings his group has made thus far continue to delight music lovers the world over. A life-long songwriter, Alan is excited to serve along side CalArts music faculty on the selection panel of our annual Singer/Songwriter Recording Project.
When he is not working on pianos or making music, Alan enjoys kayaking and exploring the local mountains with his canine cohort, Shelly, the Wonder Dog.