42nd Annual NAPBIRT Conference
April 20-23, 2018

Welcome         Hotel Information        Schedule        Clinicians
Exhibitors          Garage Sale          Mentoring          Early Bird
Registration      Scholarships      Pinewood Derby      Handouts

Updated: March 28, 2018

Professional Level Flute Repair
Keren Barr

What's the difference between how you handle a student flute and a professional flute? Aside from the $10,000 price tag, there are not too many differences in the way you approach the various levels of flutes. In this clinic, we will discuss the main differences: pads, materials, tools and care. We will take particular interest in showcasing the difference between Muramatsu pads and set up versus other major pro line flutes. Feel free to come with questions!

An Atlanta native, Keren Barr, along with her husband Michael, own North Georgia Band Instrument Service. Keren earned her undergraduate degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia in 2000. After teaching band in the metro area for several years, she went back to school in 2005 to complete the Band Instrument Repair Program at Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical in Red Wing, MN.

Keren, a flute player, dove into professional flute repair in 2009. She is a Muramatsu and Straubinger certified flute technician, training with Paul Rabinov and David Straubinger and has also been an active member of NAPBIRT since 2004.

Keren stays very involved within the musical community as a flautist for Shallowford Presbyterian Church and Steel Dreamin', a Caribbean Rock Band where she also plays the double seconds.

The Barrs reside in Atlanta, GA, with their beautiful three year old daughter, Miranda.

A Philosophy of the Relationships Utilized in String Instrument Repair
Chris Bluemel

This clinic is designed to help fill what I see as a desperately growing need in our industry. There is a shortage of qualified string instrument repair techs around the country, and band repair techs are attempting to fill this void. In many instances, this repair help has minimal skill foundation and does not go over well with the educators and players in the area. It is easy to make wood conform to published measurements, but in most instances, this is simply not enough. It is similar to giving a band repair tech a list of key ventings and tenon cork instruction and saying "fix the clarinet"; they will only have a small percentage of the knowledge they need to successfully repair the instrument.

In this clinic, we are going to dive into the deep end of string instrument repair assessment and focus on interpreting the symptomology we are presented. In my opinion, better coordination of the internal relationships of the instrument are more important than simply "making it work". A more thorough understanding of these relationships will allow you to do a far better repair job and also lend to your credibility when speaking with a string musician or educator. Hopefully, this will help to nurture the most important relationship of all ... your relationship with the customer.

A former US Army musician, Chris Bluemel studied tuba primarily with David Townsend (VCU, Richmond Symphony) and Thomas McGrady (US Armed Forces SOM). He began instrument repair while performing in the military. His diverse professional musical experience includes performance, private teaching, band/orchestra instrument repair, and wholesale and retail sales/management. He is in his thirteenth year as instructor of the Villanova University/ UofArts Summer Workshop String Repair courses in Philadelphia, PA and twentieth year as coordinator of the Charleston, SC TubaChristmas.

Chris has been featured as a clinician for NAPBIRT, SCMEA, PMEA, and in 2011 at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. He also published "Guide to Brass Musical Instrument Repair" through Northeastern Music Publications in PA in 2011.

Chris is the owner of The Instrument Doc, LLC, a musical instrument repair company founded in 1999 in Charleston, SC. Now known as Southern String Supply, this company provides repair and retail services to professional players from throughout the southeastern US. A freelance classical, jazz and funk tuba player, he performs regularly with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Maritime Brass Quintet, Funk Dumplins and River City Dixieland Jazz Band. Chris and his wife Mary Jane have two dogs, Liza Jane and Lily Jane.

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

Miles DeCastro

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 Annual Conference and is honored to be presenting at his third Conference in a row. He has also served on the Finance Committee and has hosted clinics at the Regional and National level.

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.

Instrument Diagnostics: The Art of Not Miscalculating Your Estimate
Jaime Hamner

This clinic will cover techniques on proper diagnostics on most woodwind and brass instruments. Proper diagnostics, when done correctly, will save technicians a lot of time, pain and money. It's important to develop this skill to ensure that you don't over-estimate or under-estimate the amount of work needed. Proper diagnostics will make you more money and increase your turn around time on repairs.

Jaime Hamner began apprenticing in band instrument repair in 2000 while in the Marine Corps Band. He was selected to become an Instrument Repair Technician in 2001 and attended the Instrument Repair School at Red Wing, MN. After his retirement from the Marine Corps in 2011, he continued to repair musical instruments in his home shop in Beaufort, SC.

Jaime has been a member of NAPBIRT since 2000 and has served on the Board of Directors since 2003. He served as the NAPBIRT President from 2013-2017. He is a NAPBIRT University Instructor and has presented numerous clinics at the Regional Level and Annual Conferences.

Silver and Goldsmithing Techniques in Band Instrument Repair
Kiki Hastings

Over the years, many new techniques have come into our industry by cross-pollination from other trades such as automotive repair, tool and die, industrial design, even robotics. The influence of tools like the dent machine, MDRS and ultrasonic technology has helped raise customer expectations of what is possible in brass and woodwind repair.

As a technician who first learned metalworking skills at a jewelry bench, I have noticed that some techniques that goldsmiths practice, are uncommon but possibly beneficial in even the smallest of brass and woodwind repair shops.

I look forward to demonstrating some finer points of spot brazing, solder preparation and jig construction. I will discuss how silversmithing (raising/sinking/planishing) relates to dent work and if time allows, we may even venture into the realm of metal finishing and patina's. Hopefully, you will find incorporating some of these metalsmithing techniques improves quality and efficiency of your repairs and improves your confidence when brazing and manipulating various metals.

Kiki Hastings is a former Goldsmith/Silversmith, trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. She has worked in various repair shops in Canada over the Last 8 years and Studied Repair at Renton Technical College near Seattle, WA. Kiki loves to talk shop about repair, rescue dogs and urban organic farming. She is also currently an engraving apprentice under Jason DuMars, of DuMars Custom Engraving in Eden NY. She is currently accepting engraving work through IronwoodWinds.com in Toronto.

The Positive Work Environment and Why It Rocks
Dan Hildebrandt

We spend a large chunk of our lives at work, which makes the environment we work in so important. Join Daniel on a magical journey into the positive work environment and why it is so beneficial to a business and its team's success. We will also discuss methods for cultivating a positive and productive work environment and how to maintain it.

Dan Hildebrandt wants to do everything. He wants to repair, teach, perform and dance the dance of life. As the general manager of Bridgepoint Music in Menlo Park, CA, he strives to cultivate the most welcoming and helpful service and atmosphere for his customers and co-workers. Since graduating from the Band Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College Southeast Technical in 2012, Daniel has gained experience fixing brass, woodwind, orchestral, and fretted string instruments and has had the pleasure of studying various bow and fretted/orchestral string repairs with Kevin Dennison, Tessa Meis, and Sam Guidry. Daniel has been an active NAPBIRT member since 2012.

In his life outside of music retail, Daniel can regularly be found performing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since he started playing the bass guitar in high school, he has performed in 27 states, Japan, and has recorded on over a dozen professionally released recordings, including a #1 chart topper in Osaka, Japan.

Daniel has an adorable cat named Huckleberry and his favorite comic book character is Howard the Duck.

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.

Reducing Repeated Repairs
Manda Hollifield

This "tips and tricks" style clinic discusses the repairs that we see over and again: our rental stock. We see them every time they're returned, and they're an inevitable part of working in a music store. What can we do to save time and still turn out a quality instrument? What are the most common issues and how can we stop them from happening again?

This clinic aims to answer these questions - specifically about flutes and clarinets. Topics will include a variety of repairs that are common on student line instruments, materials to help your repairs last, and one technician's way of looking at these common repairs.

Manda Hollifield is the repair tech at The Music Center in Asheville. She is currently the only tech at that position and fixes everything from piccolos to tubas. Originally from Shelby, North Carolina, she attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to pursue a degree in Music with flute as her primary. While she was there, she studied with Melody Choplin before deciding to take on repair as a career.

After completing her BA in 2010, she immediately moved to Minnesota for a year to attend the repair program at Red Wing. She was hired by Draisen Edwards Music in Anderson, SC after graduating and worked there for six years before moving to the lovely mountains of North Carolina to take the position with The Music Center. When not at work, she works on one of her many hobbies that currently includes making homemade wine, quilting, and the occasional video game.

The Art of Saxophone Repair
Dell Knickerbocker

The saxophone, by its very nature, is a complex system of keys, levers, pads, felts, corks, screws, etc. There are so many intricate adjustments that need to work in conjunction with one another in order to ensure a good working instrument. In this clinic, Dell will show you the procedures he uses, from tools to methods, the common to the unusual and tips on bringing a smile to your customer and food to your table.

Dell Knickerbocker has been repairing woodwind instruments since 1981. He attended Central Michigan University 1984-87 in pursuit of a BAA in Jazz Studies with a concentration on Saxophone.

He joined Whitehead Music Service in Saginaw Michigan in 1987 and set-up a new in-store shop for them as a woodwind specialist. He then was hired by The Paxton Music Co. in Valparaiso, Indiana in 1989 as a full time woodwind specialist and remained at that bench for 25 years. (Paxton was later purchased in 2003 by Quinlan & Fabish Music)

Dell was asked to join The Powell Silver Eagle team in late 2013 and when the project abruptly ended, he founded The Sax Clinic in 2014, which is his thriving, home based business in Valparaiso, 1 hour SE of Chicago. Serving professionals and students alike, The Sax Clinic offers direct personal attention to meet the player's needs. His services have been utilized by such notables as Ernie Watts, David Sanborn, Marc Russo, Tom "Bones" Malone, Frank Catalano, Bob Franceschini and Ira Sullivan, to name a few. His clientele currently spans 5 continents.

Dell has been an accomplished band leader, soloist, educator, clinician and voice-over actor throughout his career. Having joined NAPBIRT in 1994, Dell has been a veteran of the National Conferences and is glad to be finally presenting a clinic! "It's time to give back", he says.

How To Select The Best Synthetic Pad
Ed Kraus

Years ago, if you were asked to try synthetic pads, your experience was based on one product. Today, there are a bewildering array of choices of materials and shapes, and it's not at all clear what product to try.

Today's synthetic pads perform better, last longer and cost you less to stock. But there is a learning curve knowing how to properly select and install them. You can't simply use the same sizes and thickness you are used to with traditional pads.

In this clinic, I'll show you how to properly fit and install synthetic pads. You'll understand your choices and I'll also show you how you can tell the difference between good quality synthetic pads and some of the cheap imitations.
  • What are synthetic materials, and why are they different than traditional materials?
  • Why were early synthetic pads a failure?
  • What do you gain with synthetic pads?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • How does changing the pad shape affect the diameter and thickness to order?
  • Why are there no serious (credible) synthetic sax pads yet?
  • What about flute pads?
  • What installation methods are good?
  • What mistakes should you avoid?

Bring your questions ... All of them.

Ed Kraus is the president of Kraus Music Products and has developed many new materials and options for brass instrument valves. Besides supplying the repair industry, valve washers from KMP are now OEM equipment for high quality brass instruments worldwide.

A Technician's Early Years in the Field
Chris Lehotsky / Aaron Folmsbee

Chris Lehotsky and Aaron Folmsbee set the gears for a discussion-based clinic that opens communication between experienced technicians and those entering the field on how to make the most out of your early years in Instrument Repair. This clinic will cover:
  • “Great Expectations” – traits and skills that your employers are looking for
  • Aspects of a new shop / employer that you should search for
  • The skills that you should be focusing on – both basic and advanced
  • “When I was your age…” – the things technicians wished they knew at the beginning of their career
  • Succeeding past early frustrations in the field
  • Successful customer interactions and growing your clientele

Chris Lehotsky has worn many hats over the years, both in the repair field and out of it. Having previously studied Mechanical Engineering and Music Education (Trombone) at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Chris decided to synthesize his two career passions and attended the Band Instrument Repair Technology program at Renton Technical College.

Since then, Chris has worked in both the manufacturing and retail ends of the field, building trombones at S.E. Shires (MA), repairing brass and woodwinds at Twin Village Music (NY), and as a woodwind technician at Kennelly Keys Music (WA). When he’s away from the bench, Chris can likely be found hiking, playing board games, or devouring an epic fantasy novel.

Aaron Folmsbee has lived a life centered on music. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Aaron began performing music on trumpet at age ten and on guitar at age twelve. He attended the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, earning his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education in 2011. His focus shifted toward the music industry when he began working as a repair shop assistant at Twin Village Music in Lancaster, New York, in 2012. From there, he enrolled in the Band Instrument Repair Technology program at Renton Technical College, completing his certification under the instruction of Dan Bainbridge in 2015 and becoming a full time Instrument Repair Technician. In 2016, he left the snow of the Northeast for sunny California. He currently works at Bridgepoint Music in Menlo Park, California, as a Band Instrument Repair Technician, primarily focused on brass.

Aaron has been a member of NAPBIRT since 2015. He has attended 4 National Conferences, 2 Regional Clinics, and has written for the bi-monthly newsletter, Technicom. This is Aaron's first time presenting as a clinician.

Servicing the Bassoon
Chip Owen

For most instrument repair shops the bassoon is likely to be the least frequently seen instrument as well as the most different. This clinic will explore the differences that make this instrument so unique, and what repairers need to know to contend with those differences. Among other topics, this clinic will include body repair, padding, and adjustments for specific mechanisms. Bassoons inspire a lot of questions and answers to many of them will be provided.

Chip Owen has been part of Fox Products Corp. since 1968, following a stint as a musician in the US Navy. His areas of responsibility at Fox have included contrabassoon design and production, and bassoon repair services. Additional duties have involved design of special mechanisms for bassoon, customer contacts at both the consumer and dealer levels and other special projects. He is the primary contact at Fox for technical and repair information about the bassoon. He also gives tours of the Fox factory.

Although now retired from actively performing, Chip has been a performer on bassoon and contrabassoon and was contrabassoonist in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic from 1980 to 2003. Chip has attended every NAPBIRT National Conference beginning with the 1980 Elkhart, IN Conference. He has presented many bassoon repair clinics at both the National and Regional levels.

It's Not A Mistake, It's A Learning Moment
How Failure Leads to Excellence

Lucas Pemberton

We have all heard many times things like, "That is not something I can do" or "Those are things you can do because..." or the favorite "That's easy for you". The truth is, the things I do that are easy now, were not so when I first attempted them. There is always a learning curve. Sometimes, it is steep.

Learning a new skill or trying something new can lead to frustration. With the thought of failure looming, human nature often keeps us in our comfort zone, doing that which is familiar. This often leads to our skills reaching a level that is comfortable, but can make it difficult to advance to the next level.

In this session, we will discuss how we have achieved success in spite of all the mishaps along the way. I'll share stories of my own failures, both simple and spectacular, and how I learned from them. Experimentation is the key. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it in order to learn. Even if it does not work as intended, there is always something to be gained.

The intent is: at the end of this session, you will not be afraid of trying something new and will be prepared to have a few failures in the pursuit of excellence.

Lucas Pemberton graduated from Red Wing’s Band Instrument Repair (BIR) Program in 1998. He was lead repair technician for Eckroth Music in White Bear Lake, MN, responsible for setting up, launching and managing that facility. During that time, Lucas served on BIR’s Advisory Committee then began his instructing career here in 2000, becoming full-time in 2006. A constant learner, Lucas is a Master Clinician for NAPBIRT, having presented numerous clinics on woodwind and brass repair, including well-received hands-on clinics specific to silver soldering techniques and machine tool operation.

Outreach to directors and musicians include maintenance/emergency repair presentations at the MidWest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Minnesota Music Educators Association and the Minnesota Band Directors Association. The BIR program’s instructors are proud to train technicians for the U.S. Marine Corps.

In recognition for his teaching excellence, Lucas has presented week long advanced training sessions for technicians serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Lucas’ repair clientele includes student and professional musicians throughout the Twin Cities area.

The Ins and Outs of Trombone Hand Slide Repair
Trevor Roberts

For one reason or another, trombone hand slides evoke great fear, frustration and stress for many technicians. Whether slides test your patience, put you over the edge, or if you just want a different take on how someone else does them, this clinic will go over the steps that I use in diagnosis, disassembly, repair and assembly of a trombone slide. Straight tubes are only half the battle.

Trevor Roberts is the lead technician for Twin Village Music in Lancaster, NY and has been there since June of 2009. Having completed a Bachelors of Music and Business, with concentration on trombone, from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania; Trevor continued his studies at Badger State Repair under Ed Strege in Elkhorn, WI between 2008-2009. Outside the shop, Trevor is active with many ensembles in the WNY Region. He pursues his mechanical passions by preparing and racing a MINI Cooper S and restoring classic cars.

Maintenance On Greenhoe Trombones
Brian Russell

Greenhoe Trombones are artist-level trombones designed by Milwaukee Symphony musician, Gary Greenhoe. They were produced from 2001-2012 in Jackson, WI. The company was purchased by Schilke Music Products in 2016. Greenhoe Custom Trombones are once again available.

These instruments feature a valve section with some unique characteristics. The intent of this clinic will be to familiarize technicians with these features so they make good choices when servicing these instruments.

Brian Russell is a 1988 graduate of Allied Music's repair program, and has worked as an instrument technician for over 30 years. Highlights of his career include adaptive work for players with disabilities, including one-handed saxophone players and working as the lead technician in the Greenhoe trombone shop. He is currently working for Schilke Music Products, building Greenhoe Trombones, once again. He has worked in many environments, from multi-technician shops to being a sole proprietor. He combines a methodical approach with creativity, developing many tools and techniques to overcome the challenges faced by repair techs and instrument makers.

Repair vs Manufacturing:
How the Procedures of Manufacturing Affect the Way We Repair

Don Sawday

In this clinic we will look at several manufacturing processes and correlate them to the repair field. We will address why some manufacturing processes are done a specific way and how that changes the way one looks at fixing an instrument.

Don Sawday began work in the instrument repair industry in 1986, sweeping floors for Larry Minick. In 1992, he began an apprenticeship with Rex Bullock and in 1994, he opened his own repair shop. While maintaining his own shop, he worked with Bob Malone (pre-Yamaha) doing assembly and finish work. In 2004 he also served as a warranty repair person for Boosey and Hawkes. He headed up the Jupiter Design Team in 2008 and developed the Quantum Marching Line, 1600i Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Euphonium.

In 2013, he joined Eastman Music Company in Product Development and Quality Improvement Manager, where he is now developing their low brass and French horn lines.

He still owns and maintains his shop, Sawday and Holmes Music, in Long Beach, CA.

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.

Growing Your Business
Matt Simianer

This clinic is focused on observations of the industry we work in and where we have found profitability (value) and growth while still competing with larger companies and being able to do what we love and still be passionate about what we do.

We will discuss how you can add services to your business, becoming more versatile and becoming more competitive while still keeping a low overhead with minimal investment. From rentals to restorations, we will discuss all facets of the industry.

You may also have the dream to open up your own shop someday and we would like to be a part of your journey to success. Let us know how B.A.C. can help you!

Matt Simianer is originally from the Western hills of Nebraska. Following high school in Mitchell, NE, he decided to pursue Music Business at Chadron State College in Chadron, NE. He was hired out of College to go to work at Hill Music Company in Casper,WY, where he spent his next years honing his repair skills. Having come from a homestead where you `got er done', Matt learned early on that `hillbilly ingenuity' was a legitimate way of life. As he learned more about the in's and the out's of the music store operations, he became fascinated with the repair shop. His aptitude for mechanical repair and building things, along with his continued passion for music, pointed him toward Minnesota State College Southeast Technical in Red Wing, MN, where he studied Band Instrument Repair. Following Red Wing, Matt returned to Hill Music to take on a larger role with the day to day operations and to head up the repair department.

In 2015, Matt was hired by B.A.C. Music Center in the Kansas City area and assumed the role of `General Manager'. He is also a Journeyman, actively studying musical instrument manufacturing under the guidance of Mike Corrigan and John Duda at B.A.C. Musical Instruments and Calicchio Custom Trumpets.

Matt's involvement in NAPBIRT includes past Regional 6 Director, past Secretary, hosting 4 Regional Clinics and sharing his knowledge with technicians around the country.

How To Butter Up Your Pro Sax Setups:
You'll Know It When You Feel It

Sara Sipes


adjective | but·tery |
  1. Having the qualities (such as smoothness or richness) of butter.
  2. The 100% tactile but 0% pinpointable feel when a pro player picks up their saxophone.
  3. Using the combination of key fitting, padding, spring tension, and pearl heights to obtain the best setup possible on a professional saxophone.

Sara Sipes is a technician in the Sax Proshop at MusicMedic, specializing in Padding and Setup. She graduated from the Band Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical and has earned a Bachelor and Masters degree in Saxophone Performance from Morehead State University and Michigan State University, respectively.

Struggling with focal dystonia throughout her schooling has given Sara a keen interest on the sensory feel of a saxophone and new ergonomic developments from the technician's and player's perspective. She is always looking for ways to contribute to the advancement of the band instrument repair community.

The Lathe in the Corner
Jeff Smith

So, you own a lathe…what to do with it? Most of us in the field don't have any formal training in machining or lathe work and while recognizing this, we will look at practical uses of the lathe that are very specific to the work that we'll run across in band instrument repair.

We'll touch on the essential equipment and accessories and we'll focus in on specific uses and techniques that you can use immediately to make your lathe work more effective and predictable. We will do this while expanding the range of services you can perform.

This clinic is a must see for those who own a lathe but don't feel they're getting the most out of it. This is also for anyone considering the purchase of a lathe and wants to hit the ground running when they get a machine.

Jeff Smith is the founder and president of J.L. Smith & Co. The Charlotte, NC based company designs, manufactures and distributes pads, tools, parts and supplies for instrument manufacturers and technicians. Smith's Valentino pads and supplies and its J.L. Smith tools can be found in fine workshops around the globe. Smith is also a specialty retailer of flutes, print music, and accessories which sell from its Charlotte location and also from its Detroit based Flute World division.

Repairing instruments professionally since 1977, Jeff brings a broad background and deep range of experiences and expertise to his presentations. He is a frequent clinician for NAPBIRT at regional and national events and contributes his expertise to numerous other organizations. Jeff has also written on the subject of repair in his popular technical guides: "Servicing the Flute" and "Servicing the Clarinet".

Shop Management and Sales
Brian Stevenson

Whether you have a huge retail store or a small selection of accessories, how you display, market and sell these items can be the difference between a lot of your money being on the shelf, or this part of your business being a profit-generating center. In this clinic we'll talk about merchandising, retail displays and the art of the sale in order to make every square foot in your shop work for you. Topics will include:
  • Upselling, Basket Sales, and Add-ons.
  • Merchandising and bundling.
  • When to have a sale, when not to.
  • Sales strategies to close the sale.
  • How Much of a discount can you give?

Lastly, we'll talk about the economy of shop management. How much time do you waste by being disorganized? What systems can you implement so there's no grey area about how your shop runs? All of these things can help keep you on the bench and making money, or help to organize the people working with you.

Brian Stevenson grew up in Northeast Ohio and attended Ohio Northern University and Eastern Michigan University studying to be a Band Director. When he realized during student teaching that it wasn't his calling in life, he bounced around from Toledo to Detroit and down to Arizona. After spending a long time as a corporate restaurant trainer for a national restaurant chain, he was drawn back to music and specifically repair.

Brian started repairing at Milano Music in Mesa, AZ and was eventually recruited to become the woodwind tech and an instructor at CIOMIT, in Castle Rock, CO. He and his wife, Deanna, opened up their own shop, Rocky Mountain Music Repair, five years ago. He's really proud of the clientele he has developed and the high-level of work his shop has made their reputation on. Brian is a life-long geek and plays board games, magic: The Gathering and disc golf. He leads a scavenger hunt team and enjoys biking, hiking and playing with his daughter, Emily, and his dog, Sawyer.

Working Smarter for Longevity: Ergonomics in the BIR Shop
Sara Voskuhl, Laurel Partin, Sally Lindenberg, Jessica Ganska

How do we make the most of mechanical advantage in our approach to repairs? Knowledge and application of ergonomics can help us all do better repairs more efficiently no matter the size and strength of frame or hands. Moving with awareness of long-term effects of motion also helps us have better sustainability and longevity in the field.

In this clinic we will explore how to work smarter for the goal of longevity and sustainability of the technician. We will explore specific techniques which can make possible repairs which, with smaller hands or frames, we might not otherwise be able to attain. We will also discuss the basic science behind mechanics of injury and the process of healing, to better avoid injury and heal more thoroughly. We will explore better mechanical advantage and ergonomics through posture, hand positions, shop design, tool modifications, specific stretches and exercises, and tool designs. These habits, tools, tips, and tricks make it easier on our hands and bodies as technicians and give us more techniques to access so that we can better serve our clients and have a healthier and longer potential career in BIR.

Sara Voskuhl first became interested in band instrument repair in the 8th grade when she followed her repair technician for career day as he pinned a severely cracked bass clarinet. She then promptly forgot about the field for the next 25 years, instead becoming a cartographer working first for the CIA, then ultimately running her own map-making business from home.

When she finally had enough of sitting in front of a computer, she had an 'aha!' moment and rediscovered band instrument repair. After attending Renton Technical College, she went to work for Kennelly Keys Music as a woodwind specialist, and now works out of their Bellevue, WA location in a highly efficient 9'x10' room with her husband, Vinnie Christ, who repairs brass instruments.

When she's not at work, she can be found playing her clarinet with the River Winds Concert Band or her video game cover band Harder than Contra, playing D&D, gardening, cooking yummy food, and schlepping her pre-teens to bassoon lessons and cyclo-cross races.

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, dives, hikes solo in the wilderness, practices TaiChi and BaGua.

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.

Jessica Ganska is currently the Band Instrument Repair Technology instructor at Renton Technical College in Renton, WA. She graduated from the Band Instrument Repair Technology program at Renton Technical College in May of 2013. She then went on to work as a full time repair technician at Kennelly Keys Music in Lynnwood, WA and at Twin Village Music in Lancaster, NY servicing woodwind and brass instruments.

Before making a career change, Jessica was the Band and Chorus Director at Smyrna High School in Smyrna, DE for eleven years. She made a positive impact on both the concert band and marching bands, taking the marching band to three Atlantic Coast Championships and increasing the level of musicianship greatly in her concert band program. Many of her students have continued on to become music educators and composers. Jessica graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor's in Music Education.

Jessica is an active member of NAPBIRT. She has been a clinician/panelist at the 2016 NAPBIRT Annual Conference, sharing her repair experience with peers and young technicians.

Jessica enjoys reading, hiking, beading in her spare time, and taking care of her two lovely fur babies.

Hands-on Clinics at the NAPBIRT Technical Training Center (NTTC)

     All Hands-On Clinics are:   SOLD   OUT     

Only in Normal are we able to put on some real 'get your hands dirty' type clinics. These clinics are very limited and have some special requirements, so read on for the details.

The following clinics are each approximately 3 hours long and there is an additional $35.00 fee. Each clinic is limited to 6 technicians and is only available to those that have paid their conference registration. You may be required to bring some of your own clinic supplies. (see the following clinic descriptions below). Transportation from the Hotel to the Training Center and back will be provided.

The only way to register for these clinics is to contact the NAPBIRT office: 309.452.4257 or send an email to: office@napbirt.org. Registrations will be limited to one clinic per person and first come first serve.

Hands-On: Tympani Repair for the Wind Technician
Michael Barr

                SOLD   OUT                

A percussion-savvy technician can add a significant source of profit to their business by performing moderately simple repairs and routine maintenance to the most often neglected instruments in the band room. This clinic will focus on the biggest and most complex "elephants" in the room, the timpani. I will demonstrate a complete systematic method of inspection, disassembly, mechanism adjustment, head replacement and final tuning and balancing. Discussion will also cover other timpani-related topics such as head selection, manufacturer variations and proper care techniques.

Originally from Piney Flats, TN, Michael Barr is the co-owner of North Georgia Band Instrument Service in Atlanta. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Georgia Southern University in 1998 and graduated from the Band Instrument Repair program at Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical in 2005. Prior to becoming a repair technician, he was a school band director in the greater Atlanta area.

Michael is an avid percussionist and the leader of Atlanta's "Steel Dreamin" Caribbean Rock band. In his spare time, he enjoys alpine skiing, amateur radio, disc golf, weather monitoring, college football (Go Vols!), cold war history, Mid-Century Modern architecture and his newest hobby of curling. Michael and his wife, Keren, (the other half of the business team) live in Atlanta with their daughter Miranda and their retired racing Greyhound Andre.

Hands-On: Dents in Band Instruments - Are Your Dents Complete?
Greg Beckwith / John Huth

                SOLD   OUT                

From enhanced inspection come the tools and techniques to raise dent work quality and speed.

This clinic is for techs who have experience with dent work and would like to learn more and/or improve what they are currently achieving. Clinic will include but not limited to:
  • Best starting point and execution for any dent
  • Sighting and handling parts for optimal inspection
  • Utilizing tools and techniques for best possible outcomes
  • Understanding how metal acts, reacts, and behaves in the process of dent restoration
  • Ways to improve dent work while not adding to the time-on-task
You will leave with new ways to look at and inspect parts. The goal of this session is that you walk away with new tips and techniques for dent work that add efficiency and result in quality outcomes.

You are encouraged to bring your favorite hand tools, mallets, burnishers, etc., but this is not a requirement.

Greg Beckwith is a graduate of the Red Wing band instrument repair program at MN State College SE. He has been teaching at Red Wing with John Huth and Lucas Pemberton since 2003. He has presented clinics and written articles for NAPBIRT. In addition, he has been a clinician for the International Horn Society, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and Minnesota Music Educators Association. Greg maintains a part time repair business at his home for area brass musicians and is also a part time professional horn player performing with various ensembles in Minnesota.

Hands-On: Introduction to Soft and Silver Soldering
John Huth

                SOLD   OUT                

This clinic is for techs who are just getting started or who solder infrequently and want to brush up their skills. We will explore the basics that drive high-quality soft and silver soldering, applying hands-on the fundamentals that can result in excellent work, including:
  • Utilizing tools and techniques for ensuring parts to be soldered are clean and well fit
  • Understanding solder/flux formulations and applications
  • Incorporating heat control/distribution techniques
  • Applying techniques for clean-up and buffing prep (e.g. feed points or excess)

You will leave with things to take with you. The goal is to walk away with enough practice for continued application in the shop.

Safety glasses and aprons are required.

John Huth, along with Greg Beckwith and Lucas Pemberton, is an instructor for the Band Instrument Repair program at Red Wing (MN State College Southeast). For NAPBIRT, he has presented a number of traditional and hands-on clinics regionally, nationally and through NAPBIRT University. John is a regular contributor to TechniCom, and has produced a large number of instructional videos on repair and maintenance.

Hands-On: Repairing Cracks In Woodwind Instruments
Bruce McCall

                SOLD   OUT                

Cracks in wood instruments are a fact of life whether it be clarinets, oboes or wood flutes. Usually, these cracks can be repaired. In this clinic we will explore crack repair by discussing general principles for addressing cracks and examine specific scenarios, while discussing the best approach to address each situation, including the use of carbon fiber rod and carbon fiber banding. We will address simple finishing techniques to minimize the visual impact of a crack repair. We will also discuss why woodwind instruments crack and how you can help your customers prevent cracks from occurring.

Bruce McCall took apart his first oboe while in the 6th grade. He has been repairing woodwind instruments since 1976. Beginning in December 2014, he joined the expert team of technicians at Meridian Winds, returning to Michigan where he grew up. He handles double reed and flute repairs along with most of the crack repairs which includes instruments sent to Meridian Winds from shops all around the United States.

Bruce studied oboe and bassoon while earning his Bachelor's degree at Michigan State University. He performed on both while a member of the US Military Academy Band at West Point, and as a free-lance musician in New York City and Knoxville, TN. Through the years, he has had the opportunity to absorb first-hand the wisdom of oboe maker Paul Laubin, bassoon guru James Keyes and his current boss, master machinist Eric Satterlee.

Bruce has presented oboe adjustment workshops at the annual conference of the IDRS, at universities in Michigan, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia and at the Brevard Music Center. Bruce holds certifications for working on Muramatsu flutes and the installation of Straubinger pads and is the author of "The Essential Guide to Adjusting Your Oboe", which is in use by oboists, repair technicians and at universities across the country.

Hands-On: Introduction to Hand Engraving
Ryan Walker

                SOLD   OUT                

Participants will learn and practice several hand engraving techniques on a predetermined design. This course will include an overview of engraving techniques, a history of engraving and engravers, graver types, tool making/modifying, graver sharpening, work piece holding, patterns and pattern transfers. Participants will leave this immersive clinic with the basic knowledge and understanding of the art of hand engraving.

Ryan Walker came from a background of working as a technician on all types of wind instruments, so he brings an excellent wholistic approach to the Sax ProShop. This is evident in his mechanical aptitude and innovative modifications.

With his great knowledge and respect for all things saxophone, Ryan can also be found in the buffing and lacquer booths. Not only can Ryan make a saxophone feel good, he can make it look impeccable. He also refinishes instruments to an extraordinary level, having studied under some of the world's finest engravers.