I began my AMICA membership back in 1970. I was still a student and
was all gaga over the instruments. I was just stunned that all this
mechanical stuff worked and made music as well. Once I finished at
the university and decided that I needed a job, I just found nothing
that worked as well or made as much money as piano tuning and such,
which by then I had been doing for the past ten years.
I opened my own shop and continued the restoration work I had begun
to do to pay for some of my education. I also continued to go to AMICA
meetings. After attending several years, I brought many of my customers
to AMICA. I also found three great friends in AMICA who had me restore
their pianos. All of them gave glowing reports to the other members of
my work. They had the club over to hear the instruments as well. The
consensus was that the instruments had been very well restored.
I regularly went to AMICA meetings. However, I worked all month on
fine automatic musical instruments and most of the meetings were held
at the homes of great people. I loved to talk with them and snack with
them but, let's face it, most of the instruments we had to listen to
were ramshackle wheezing dinosaurs that often had not been tuned for
ten years. The hammers were almost all beat down to the wood. Half
the pipes would not work right on the organs, dead notes were rife in
the player systems. I, of course, would offer to do any work they
wanted to do, but with no response.
I got to the point where, meeting after meeting, I would subject
myself to the torture of enduring music from old instruments that had
little or no work ever done on them, and I would go to my shop and
listen to great sounding instruments that played every note flawlessly.
I finally got to the point that I went to few meetings, after I figured
out that these people were keeping these instruments in dreadful
condition because they would not spend any money on them or did not
believe in restoring them. They would show off the instruments to
people for the first time, giving the newbies the impression that
Grandma listened to player pianos that sounded this bad.
I moved to St. Louis ten years ago. I had no time for pleasure of
AMICA meetings for the first several years, what with working for and
later establishing a new version of my shop. However, even though
I am one of, if not the largest, automatic musical instrument
restoration facility in the Midwest, I have had only one or two members
of AMICA visit my shop. During the convention here in St. Louis, I had
about 15 national members visit from all over the world. However, even
after being seen at the St. Louis Convention, I have had no additional
local chapter members over to visit.
I do not know if I am on some list to be shunned, or if the club is
so dysfunctional that they no longer meet or need places to meet,
or perhaps one of them has spoken ill of me for some unknown slight.
I am not aware of any unhappy customers, since I always make sure that
my customers are happy, and I give 5 years of free warranty work if
ever needed. I have seen the president of the local chapter at local
city events cranking their monkey organ. I always give them my card
and invite them over.
I do not know why the local chapter of AMICA is totally disinterested
in visiting a fully functional shop where we restore instruments that
go all over the country. I have instruments that have gone from my
shop to 15 different states. It would seem that the local AMICA is
not interested, in fact, very much against supporting their local
Does anyone know what the problem is? Is it my breath?