Robert Guenther started tuning pianos in 1976. Two years later, he began a course of study in piano tuning and technology with James McCormick in Lombard, IL, which he completed in 1979. That same year he established his own business, Guenther Piano Service, and since then has been tuning, repairing and servicing pianos full-time in the northern suburbs of Chicago.
Robert joined the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) in 1985 and quickly passed the Guild exams to become a Registered Piano Technician (RPT). He has served his local PTG chapter as Chairman of the Tuning Examinations Committee since 1987. He has also held the posts of Chapter Secretary, Vice President, President, and Newsletter Editor at various times. Robert is certified to administer tuning examinations for the PTG and has taught classes for PTG at the local, regional and national levels on subjects ranging from tuning to music theory to business. He has been asked to administer the Tuning Exam program at regional seminars, to tutor in aural tuning at the PTG Annual Institute, and has served as an Examiner at various PTG Institutes over the years.
He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Millikin University (Decatur, IL, 1973) with emphasis in Music Education, which included a course of study in the Physics of Sound and Acoustics. Before embarking on a career as a piano technician, Robert taught high school music (choral and orchestral) in the public schools. He sang professionally for nine seasons with His Majestie’s Clerkes, an a cappella chamber ensemble in Chicago, and served on their Board of Directors for 10 years. He has toured, with various choirs, through parts of France, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as well as many regions of the United States.
Currently, Robert resides in Evanston, IL with his wife, Nancy, and their three children.
Laura Olsen, RPT, graduated from the Tremper School of Piano Technology in 1985 and began her full time piano service business, A Joyful Sound, Inc. She joined the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) and became an RPT in 1993. Laura was then elected to the PTG Board of Directors as Regional Vice President and served for 2 terms. She followed that with service to the PTG Foundation as Director, Vice President and President. Laura was the recipient of the PTG Member of Note Award, 4 special service awards and a Presidential Citation and served on the PTG Institute Committee from 1998 to 2002, being Institute Director in 2001. She has received one of the two 2011 Hall of Fame awards from the PTG at the national meeting and Institute in Kansas City.
Presently serving as Vice President of the PTG Foundation, Laura is a curator for the Jack Wyatt Museum of Piano Technology in Kansas City, KS and is overseeing the archiving of historical documents deeded to the Foundation to help preserve the history of piano technology.
Continuing her education, Laura has attended Steinway School and Yamaha’s Little Red Schoolhouse and 20 PTG Technical Institutes and many regional seminars. She has been asked to teach at every convention since 2002 and has taught a variety of classes from “The Evolution of the Piano Action” to “Keybushing” as well as “Business Basics”.
As a member of the professional English Handbell ensemble, Chicago Bronze, Laura performs regularly in the Chicagoland area. She was a key member of a championship yacht racing team that has established a new Chicago/Mackinac race record and won every major regatta on Lake Michigan. She has three grown sons and enjoys gardening and cooking in her spare time.
Paul grew up in the Washington, DC area, went to undergraduate school at Grinnell College in Iowa (BA, philosophy 1968), and did his graduate work at the University of Chicago (MA, English 1969). He was a dedicated brass player and played semi-professionally in the Midwest while gaining an interest in piano technology. After his return from the Peace Corps in 1971, he opened the first Music of the Spheres Pianoworks shop in Washington, DC. After joining the Piano Technicians Guild in 1987, he achieved RPT designation in 1989, and from 1987 served the PTG Chicago Chapter as editor of the newsletter, Secretary, Vice-president, and President. He tuned for the Lyric Opera briefly in the 1990's, and now, with his wife Oksana, operates a full piano restoration shop on Chicago's near west side as well as servicing a substantial private tuning clientele. Paul has been a regular teacher at regional and national PTG seminars and institutes since the mid-1990's. He has also been an editor of the Piano Technicians Journal from 2001-2005. In June, 2005, Paul received the Piano Technician's Guild Jack Greenfield Award "in recognition of outstanding research and writing of the best technical article for the Piano Technicians Journal." His interests include writing, the martial arts (ranked black belt and an instructor in aikido), and sailing their 28' sailboat Pianoforte on Lake Michigan.
Dave, a Chicago native, earned a computer engineering degree from the University of Illinois and engaged in a successful first career in software design and development. A lifelong pianist, Dave began tuning in 1995 as a hobby, but by 1998 his pursuits had grown more serious. He joined the Piano Technicians Guild by way of the very welcoming Chicago Chapter and launched his neighborhood piano service business. Dave earned the Guild's RPT status a year later.
In the course of using the available electronic tuning devices (ETDs) in his work, Dave was confronted with their limitations, and, convinced that the prior methods could be significantly improved, he capitalized on his technology skills and embarked on the development of a successful new tuning device (go to www.veritune.com). Since then he has enjoyed spending the majority of his time supporting and improving the product as well as researching various acoustics topics and related measurement and analysis techniques. At CSPT, he will have the opportunity to pursue other piano-related acoustic research as well.
Dave is a frequent instructor at PTG conventions and seminars, and an active member and past president of the PTG Chicago Chapter. He has been issued three patents, a research grant award, and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Acoustics at Penn State University. Dave is a piano accompanist for various theatre productions and his church choir. He lives in Chicago where he dabbles in endurance sports with what little free time he has.
Ben Gac, RPT was born and raised in Los Alamos, NM. Determined to become an opera singer, he attended the Wheaton Conservatory of Music and received a BM in Vocal Performance. Ben did some graduate work at the Cleveland Institute of Music before changing his career path towards piano technology. One of the first graduates of the Chicago School for Piano Technology, Ben excelled quickly in his new profession; shortly after graduating Ben obtained Registered Piano Technician status. Ben has attended the exclusive Steinway Academy at the factory in New York and has since become one of Steinway Piano Gallery’s local specialists.
Ben runs a successful piano servicing business in the Chicago area, and services pianos for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Steinway Piano Gallery, Wheaton College, the Elgin Symphony, and a number of other notable clientele. In the summer of 2011 Ben was invited to the Tanglewood Music Festival to serve as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Head Piano Technician, where he oversaw the preparation of the 80-some Steinway pianos for the season and instructed the piano technician interns. Ben is an active member in the Piano Technicians Guild, serving on the board of Chicago Chapter of the Guild in several capacities, and has been active in tutoring and is certified to give tuning exams. He has been published often in the PTG’s publication The Journal, and frequently writes for the Chicago Chapter’s publication The Wippenpost. Ben also donates his time to the Gift of Pianos program.
Christa Andrepont grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. She attended college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she studied Piano Performance and Pedagogy as well as Architecture. With a drive to better understand the piano, she moved to Chicago to attend the Chicago School for Piano Technology in the summer of 2008. There she completed the Basic Curriculum as well as the Advanced Curriculum in Concert Prep and Institutional Management. During the completion of the Advanced Curriculum in 2010, she gained Registered Piano Technician status in the Piano Technicians Guild and was accepted as the Advanced Piano Technician Intern for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, MA.
Christa now services pianos for Columbia College, Sherwood Music Conservatory, Steinway Piano Gallery, and many other venues while maintaining a small private clientele.
Trained in viola performance and choral conducting at California State University, Long Beach, Steve Pearson decided to become a piano technician after a year teaching high school music. Steve apprenticed with a piano tuner from California State Long Beach for two years, while tuning for the local piano dealer. He appreciated the need for both mechanical aptitude and musical ability that piano technology required. Steve joined the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) in 1978 and attained craftsman level at that time.
Steve worked in Southern California tuning for professional teachers, performers, and several orchestras, including the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra as concert technician from 1985 to 1996, tuning for some of the world's great pianists. From 1996 to 1999, he was technical consultant for Yamaha Corporation in Buena Park, California. He met his wife, Pat, at a PTG convention in Providence, RI in 1998 and moved to Crete, IL in 1999. He served as Director of Technical Services for Chicagoland's Steinway dealer from 1999 to 2003-traveling to New York for extensive training at the Steinway factory. Steve is also certified to oversee the tuning examinations for the PTG.
In May 2004 Steve and Patricia Pearson opened Pearson's Piano Shop and closed it in 2008 to pursue institutional and private client service. Steve also played viola in the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra. Steve lived in Crete, Illinois with Pat, and their dog, Winston until recently when he undertook a new position as grand piano production manager at Steinberg Pianos in Eisenberg, Germany.
Oksana was born in France, came to the United States in 1956, and grew up in Chicago. She received a BA in French from Illinois College in 1971, and an MS in Human Services from National College of Education in 1989. She worked for 12 years for a retail/catalog company in a variety of positions from buying to management, and then variously in the social services before developing an interest in piano work. She joined Music of the Spheres Pianoworks in 1991 and, having become a fine bench technician and tuner, she established her own business, Con Brio Pianos, in 1999 with her own tuning clientele in the Chicago area. Con Brio Pianos also offers administrative services to other businesses in the technical community, including CSPT and Music of the Spheres. Her interests include Jazzercise, music, and sailing.