British Piano Expert Supports Ballantan Academy

By Stephen V. Lansana

A British Piano Technician, Gavin Crook has spent a week in Sierra Leone repairing spoilt pianos at the Ballantan Academy of Music.
Crook told Premier News in an interview on Wednesday in Freetown that most of the pianos at the musical academy have lost their normal sound system, and that he has come to repair them so that they could function effectively.
He said that he has repaired over 20 pianos since he came from UK, and that he hope of repairing more pianos before he returns to United Kingdom.
“Temperature can affect the strings of the piano thereby making it to produce bad sound; and the over use of the pianos without repair can damage it,” he said. He added that there are certain things in the piano that are mechanical which need regular repairs, adding that failure to do repair can result to a lasting damage to the piano in the future.
He promised to send video through YouTube to the Ballantan Academy of Music which will show basic skills on how to repair a piano, so that Sierra Leoneans who are interested in repairing pianos can acquire the skills and later travel to United Kingdom to do a four-year course on Piano.
He encouraged those who are interested in it to do the course and be engaged in the practical aspect so that they will not forget what they have learnt. “I have been a piano technician since 2008 and I am still developing my skill,” he said.
He said the biggest challenge that he faced while repairing the pianos in Sierra Leone is that, he has very little tools in the country to repair the pianos, as compared to the UK. He added that in UK, if a string breaks while repairing the pianos, he can just call someone and that person will help him with the string. “But in Sierra Leone I cannot call someone because there are not enough tools and spare parts.”
The Consultant Principal of Ballantan Academy of Music, Margeret Fyle said that they usually have an expert from UK every year to repair their pianos. “We always want to give quality music skills to our students so we don’t want the pianos to be faulty because it will discourage them from acquiring the skills,” she said.
She added that their students usually sat to the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Exam in June, an international exam conducted for music students. “I want the pianos to be in working order during that period. “Through the help of British Council that provided the air ticket and lodging, we always have piano expert who come to repair our pianos before the exam,” she added.

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