How you might get an apprenticeship in band instrument repair

Do you want to work at a glamorous bench like this?

Then read on my friend!

So how do I find someone willing to teach me repair?

First, you’ll need to find someone that does repairs in your area. That’s a no-brainer right? Well, it’s easier said than done. Like I’ve said previously, there aren’t many instrument repair people in the first place… and just because a music store sells horns, doesn’t mean they fix them in house.

If you don’t know a repairman yet, go online and find one. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a repairman in your area using Google. Check out their website and you can probably find their contact info. Then all you have to do is send them an e-mail to get the ball rolling.

What do I say?

It’s a well known fact that most people enjoy talking about themselves. Repair techs are no different. Most repair people are more than willing to share information about their field with anyone who’s interested. If you send an e-mail or call (I prefer e-mail because it’s less invasive than a phone call but that’s just me), I would start by simply asking for advice on how to get into the field. You might ask if you could come into their shop and talk to them face to face about it. With the right line of questioning, you could end up getting yourself an apprenticeship but a word of warning: Don’t be pushy. (which should be obvious if you have any people skills)

I met my boss at a jazz festival my university holds every year. All the local high school jazz bands come to play and be taught by the college professors. My boss set up a table where he was doing free repairs on the kids instruments at the festival. (a great PR/advertising strategy). I had already found out some information about repair online and I was actually planning to visit a repair school in a few weeks but I figured that the more advice I could get, the better. I went up to the repair table and started talking. We chatted for a bit about repair and what it was all about. He even offered to let me come to his shop and mess around a little with my own instrument if I wanted using his tools. I told him that would be great and thanked him and left. When I got back to my dorm later that day, I wrote an e-mail to him thanking him again for his time and my interest in taking up his offer to see his shop. It wasn’t until I had already come back from visiting the repair school out west that I received an e-mail from him. In it, he invited me to have lunch with him to discuss repair and the possibility of an apprenticeship. That’s how I got into the repair business.

I’m sure your experiences will vary. You have to do a lot of this people stuff by feel and it’s hard to give advice without being in a situation myself. I was lucky! I happened upon someone who was willing to teach me repair. But it isn’t all dependent on luck.

The way I approached the situation was probably more responsible for getting the apprenticeship than luck. Being respectful and genuinely interested in someone is key. Too many people today think things are owed to them. They think they’re special and go around expecting everyone to give them something without giving anything in return. Don’t be like those people, especially if you’re trying to get someones help.

Well, that’s my rant for the day. See you next time. Oh, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

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