Yamaha Wind Instrument Technical Academy
Friday 27 April, 2018
Yamaha has shown its commitment to manufacturing the highest quality instruments for over 50 years; for 40 of those years, they have supported their ethos with enthusiastic, devoted, and impeccable repair technicians graduating from the Technical Academy.
In November of 2017, I was fortunate enough to embark on technical training in Hamamatsu. The experience was eye-opening (for a number of reasons) but mostly because I got to witness the dedication and hard work the students at the Yamaha Wind Instrument Technical Academy put in every day.
Students load into the bus with their tools and practice instruments at 7:00am on a frosty November morning. Temperatures will descend over the coming months, with lows of -2°C. The bus leaves the Yamaha dormitory at 7:05am sharp en route to the Tooyoka Factory. Most of the students sleep on the bus because they spend their evenings at the bench in the dormitory’s downstairs workstations, practicing their learnings from the day.
They awake to the halt of the bus outside of the factory around 8:00am. The Tooyoka factory is where brass and woodwind instruments are manufactured, warranty jobs are undertaken, and a good amount of research and development is conducted. The students step into the factory, setup their benches in time for an 8:30am start, learning and practicing the craft of instrument repair until 6:00pm when they scurry onto the bus back to the dorms.
Students arrive back at the dormitory in time for the beginning of dinner service (breakfast and dinner is served in the dorms, and lunch is served at the factory, Monday to Friday). After that: practice repair, (sometimes) practice their instruments, and then bed. No Netflix. No YouTube. No internet at all, and the only TV is in the dining hall. Just practice, practice, practice.
On the weekends, most of the students play in concert band, or practice, with some Sunday nights set aside for dividing up snacks, bulk-bought from Lucky Mart.
On paper it sounds exhausting, but I never saw any of the students with a frown; they were always jovial and polite, even when they encountered difficult repairs! They showed dedication and maturity beyond their years, as well as outstanding technique on the repair bench. This video is the story of how a young repairer was inspired to become a repairer (and yes, the people in the video are all from the Academy!).
Blog Post by Brae Grimes
Brae Grimes (BMus., Hons. [Jazz Trumpet Performance] – Monash University) is a recent addition to Yamaha Music Australia’s Band and Orchestral team, taking on the new role of Product and Repair Specialist. Brae has had various roles in the music retail industry and brings over 10 years of experience. Brae has also worked as an educator in secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as having a number of successful private students. In 2017, Brae undertook training at Yamaha’s Toyooka Factory in Japan, and received official accreditation acknowledging his skills as a band and orchestral instrument repairer. Outside of his role at Yamaha, Brae is an active performer and composer, and trains at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in Melbourne.