Regional Conference - Australia
Surfers Paradise - October 27-29, 2017


Updated: August 21, 2017

The Business of Repairs
Andrew Berrington

We all wonder how each other makes a buck and if we are charging too much or too little for the same work!

Through anonymous research with lots of questions, this clinic will cover the following:
  • How we operate our business
  • How it all extrapolates out into making a profit
  • Who are the problem customers and how do we deal with them
  • How do we sell our work
  • What instruments do we collectively not enjoy repairing
  • How can we make the whole experience from beginning to end more pleasurable and hopefully more profitable

Andrew Berrington initially trained at John Lehner Flutes in Sydney before travelling to London and working with Trevor James for a year. Andy then worked and trained in Bremen, Germany to become a woodwind instrument maker: Holzblasinstrumentenmacher!

On return to Australia, Andy started his own business which grew rapidly as 'For Winds' over 2 locations and employing 15 staff workers. At this point, his business attracted the attention of the national company 'Musicorp'. Andy then coordinated and helped to train a team of 20 technicians across the country. At this point, the task at hand was to try to make the repair team self-sustaining and profitable.

Andy now runs Ozwinds in Brisbane as well as Blow Woodwind and Brass Repairs.

All Cracked Up
Melody Choplin

This clinic will take a deeper look at woodwind crack repair, discussing how wood and why wood cracks, what methods of prevention are effective, and how to handle cracked instruments. There are many different methods of crack repair that have been employed with some degree of success over the years by technicians. We will look at advantages and disadvantages of those techniques in an open discussion, materials used, and include some newer ideas of using carbon fiber pinning. Fill-in materials, finished and cosmetics will also be covered in an open discussion.

I'll be showing my personal method from start to finish with detailed pictures and explanations of what I do and why I do it. New ideas and suggestions are always welcome, so please come to learn and to share!

Melody Choplin is a 1991 graduate of Red Wing Technical College and also holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Oboe. She has worked in the past as a technician and shop foreman for Pearson Music Company and Duncan Music Company. She is well known throughout North Carolina as a highly skilled technician in both woodwinds and brasses.

Currently, Melody is the repair specialist and instructor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her classes and clinics on instrument repair are designed to help music directors deal with day-to-day repair problems as well as maintenance, troubleshooting and how to work with repair technicians. She also works with students as apprentices. Many continue their repair training at the repair schools and are working in the field today.

In 2013, she published a book on repair called "Stuff Band Directors Need to Know" which is used as a text book as well as a resource for music educators. Melody is the current Region 2 Director of NAPBIRT. She owns and operates Carolina Wind and Brass Repair in Clemmons, NC where she lives with her son Elijah, husband Bruce and a rescue mutt or two.

Increasing Your Clarinet Profits Through Repairs,
Modifications, Customizations and Sales

Miles DeCastro

(Sponsored by: Backun Musical Services)

All too often, when it comes to clarinets, we miss opportunities to offer a higher level of service to our clients while also missing opportunities to increase our profits. By thinking ahead, qualifying our customers, and offering a wider range of services, we can help our customers play their best while helping ourselves stay profitable. Pad selection, custom modifications, diagnostics, attention to detail, and after-market sales are just a few of the topics we will cover as we discuss ways to increase your clarinet profits!

Miles DeCastro is the instrument repair technician at The Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam, where he teaches a course in instrument repair for educators, and is responsible for the repairs, maintenance, and inventory of over 1,000 instruments. Prior to joining Crane in July of 2016, he was the general manager at Bridgepoint Music in Menlo Park, CA since 2012, and was a repair technician at Maytan Music Center in Reno, NV from 2008-2011.

Miles has been an active NAPBIRT member since 2007. In that time, he has attended every national conference and has presented clinics at the past three national conferences. He has also served on the finance committee and has hosted clinics at the regional and national level. Miles is the current NAPBIRT Region 1 Director.

On top of all of this, Miles is a Straubinger Certified Technician, Yamaha Certified Sales Professional, graduate of the Yamaha Service Advantage Program, and he has studied instrument repair with Morrie Backun. All of these experiences helped him lead Bridgepoint Music to being a NAMM Top 100 Dealer four years in a row.

Tiny Terrors, Better Known as Piccolos
Lee Hirschmann

They're so small and cute, right? Then why do so many technicians cringe when the we see that little petite case is unzipped from its leather carrying bag. Maybe it's because we've been to a few too many flute shows where they are being tested. Perhaps you've worked in one too many emergency repair booths at local marching competitions. (More likely it's because we know this instrument has been used to conjure satanic beasts, torture animals and technician's ears alike for far too long.)

This clinic will cover common piccolo ailments/issues and their cures, new tone hole tools, pad selection/options and will be packed full of tips and tricks to make life easier when piccolos find their way onto your bench. We will draw on our knowledge and techniques from other instruments as well as incorporate new techniques and ideas. There will be a PowerPoint full of videos and pictures, along with tools to be passed around. Also, there will be live demonstrations. Even though this clinic will primarily be based on piccolos, there will be some discussion and cross-over to other woodwind instruments.

Lee Hirschmann grew up in a very mechanically inclined and musical family. Since the 6th grade, he knew that he wanted to build and repair musical instruments. He has 20 years' experience playing musical instruments, 11 years of retail experience and has worked in every aspect of music retail from managing music stores, teaching private lessons, repairs, sales, customer service and having his own repair business for stringed instruments. Lee has been building guitars since 2003.

In 2007, Lee graduated from Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery and started Hirschmann's Guitar Repair, servicing instruments for private customers and many local music stores, studios and local music venues. In addition to repairing, he continued building custom and prototype guitars for Pat Murray Guitar Co.

In 2011, Lee graduated from Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical, Red Wing's BIRT program. After graduation, he worked at the Music & Arts refurb center in Frederick, MD. He worked full time at Bill's Music House. During his time at Bill's, he's hosted many back-to-school nights, guest taught and lectured at local colleges, hosted emergency repair services at adjudications and competitions, exhibited at MEA conferences. In June of 2016, Lee left Bill's Music house and dissolved Hirschman's Guitar Repair to start a new company "The Band Shoppe". Lee has been a proud and continuous member of NAPBIRT since 2012.

Tips & Tricks
Sally Lindenberg

This clinic will be about those small, but extremely handy- "why didn't I think I think of that before" tips and tricks that save us time and hopefully make us money! Over the years of attending NAPBIRT conferences, picking up these tips and tricks are often what makes the long trip so worthwhile. In this industry, quite often no two jobs are the same, and this is often how we come up with new ideas and new 'tools' to help get the job done. I will share with you some of the (often very simple) things I have learnt to save time and money.

Time management and work life balance is hard to find sometimes, so anything that saves us time has to be of benefit? I am sure we have all had times where our work life carries over into our personal lives such as working too many hours. I have also recently discovered some physical effects that the workshop environment can have on our health. I would also like share what I have learnt in this area, and some tips on trying to work in a less toxic environment.

Sally Lindenberg is a technician and business owner from Brisbane. She holds a certificate IV in Business Management and has owned and operated a couple of successful business over the last 14 years. At the age of 20, she started her first repair business, working as a contractor for music shops in Dublin, Ireland. Upon her return to Australia, she then set up her repair business operating from a small bench at home. As the business grew, she saw a need to expand into a commercial retail space.

2010 saw the start of her second Retail shop. This initially started in a very small commercial space and gradually grew into a larger premises which eventually hosted retail, all instrument repairs and music tuition. Sally sold this shop in April 2016 and it is still running very today with the new owners.

Today, she is happily running her business from her home based workshop focusing on repair and restoration work.

The Saxophone, From a Player's Perspective
Phil Noy

I will share my philosophies on having a concept on the instrument much like a professional player does. Often, this dictates how the final product is reached and leads to experimentation and problem solving to maintain that focus. These ideas eliminate the multiple concepts approach that can lead to an unfocused final product in a saxophone overhaul. So, without getting too philosophical, we'll discuss consistency of technique and not allowing the instrument to dictate your approach.

The Culture of the Saxophone COA:
Reasons, Methods, and Conversation with Clients

Laurel Partin

In our shop, the idea of a saxophone COA (Clean/Oil/Adjust) is as accepted as a high-end flute COA. We do COA services regularly for student to professional grade instruments for saxophones, clarinets, oboes, and bassoons as well as flutes. Let's talk about how we got here. In this clinic we'll detail the why, the how, and the language and client conversations which help to develop this culture in a shop. We'll talk over reasons for a COA on a saxophone and how to discuss this maintenance service with clients with respect to longevity of pad life, mitigation of sticky pads, protection of key structure, maintenance of post fitting, and sanitation. We'll discuss the methods of evaluating the need for a COA, then efficiently performing a COA with the opportunity to improve the mechanical and pad structure of the instrument. Finally, we will discuss the specific COA techniques which help you give your client the "Wow" moment both at pick-up and throughout the year.

Laurel Partin transitioned to musical instrument repair from being an innovative science educator while carrying rich experiences in biomedical research, cabinetry, musical performance, and theatrical lighting design. In 2012, she stepped straight out of repair school at Renton Technical College into the opportunity of a direct mentorship with Scott Mandeville at Tim's Music in Sacramento, CA. The invaluable direct mentorship with Scott deepened and accelerated her approach to the craft.

Laurel is honored to have clients who seek her out for high-end woodwind repairs. She has managed the repair shop at Tim's Music for three years where they have moved into a gorgeous and spacious new facility where a few of the benches are committed to training and mentorship for developing technicians. We are committed to the full development technicians and to deepening the fine skill and concept sets for efficient and high-quality repair.

When not in the shop, you can find Laurel playing tenor sax, flute, clarinet, vox, and French horn in various professional and community groups. She also swims, hikes solo in the wilderness, practices TaiChi and BaGua and hopes to dive again while in Australia.

A Torch and an Imagination
Jeff Peterson

(Sponsored by: Yamaha Music Australia)

Are you a parts replacer or a technician? Resourceful and creative fabrication skills generate more opportunities to serve your customer and are increasingly becoming a necessity. Whether you need to save the waiting time of ordering a part, fabricate a part for an unsupported brand, construct an obsolete part for a vintage instrument, create that custom touch for a pro or make life easier for a musician with a disability, the facility to create what is not readily available has become indispensable. In this clinic, we will cover a wide range of topics on how to create keys, braces, pads and many other components from old parts, new parts, and raw materials.

As manager of the Yamaha Atelier-Los Angeles, Jeff Peterson has had the privilege of working with some of the finest woodwind artists in the world. In this role, Jeff works with a worldwide team to develop cutting-edge instruments to satisfy the most discriminating artists, often by customizing existing instruments, sometimes by creating new models. Prior to his work at Yamaha, Jeff owned and operated Horn Improvement, a multi-technician music repair and retail facility specializing in professional sax, clarinet and flute repair. He is very active in NAPBIRT and has served as President, Treasurer, Region 7 Director and as an instructor for the NAPBIRT University Saxophone Course.

Rotor Valve Design, Problems and Repair
Rick Seeger

This clinic will cover rotary valve repair and related topics.

We will take a brief look at various types of rotary valve designs including their individual advantages and problems. Repair problems will be approached mostly from an historical aspect along with an examination of valve repair tools from the past and today's best tools and more modern practices. How rotary valves differ in form and function from piston valves will also be discussed. Topics covered will include but not be limited to; valves, casings, levers, mechanisms and acoustics. This clinic will make an effort to cover methods of repair available to technicians in various types of shops and of differing skill levels.

You should take away from this presentation the knowledge of what level of repairs you may want to do in your current shop, what level of repair you may desire to do in the future and what repairs you may want to send out to a specialty shop.

Rick Seeger has lived past lives as a public school music instructor and a professional musician but now repairs and manages the repair shop for Boomer Music in Ft. Collins, CO. His training and over 35 years of repair experience include everything from harpsichords to helicons. Rick has lived in six states and worked in ten shops varying in size from one to ten technicians. He has extensive experience and education in shop management, organization and safety compliance.

Shop Tips from Dirk
Dirk Zeylmans

This clinic will discuss the flute headjoint and its construction, mainly the shape of the embouchure hole and how you can modify it. We will look at the facing of the tenor sax mouthpiece and basic refacing guide. Lastly, I'll share several tricks I use to keep the shop and the work flow running smoothly. I use a system of registering the instruments and work so that everything can be traced three ways.

Dirk Zeylmans started playing the saxophone in his early teens and was so intrigued by the instrument and how it worked he began to study instrument repair with Don Archer in 1983, at the age of 15. He continued his formal training at the Victorian College of the Arts, the Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam and at the Australian National University all the while working on woodwinds on his own. In 1994 he worked with Geoff Speed of Woodnote Musical Repairs.

In 1996 Dirk stepped out on his own and opened Tritone Brass & Woodwind in Canberra as well as joining NAPBIRT. He continues his training through attendance at many NAPBIRT Annual Conferences and clinics. He became a Straubinger Certified flute technician in 2010 and in 2011, studied flute head joint making with Jonathon Landell of the Vermont Guild of Flute Making. Dirk hopes to finish his own flute, serial number 0001 in 2012.