Geeks. Nerds. They are the people who make the world turn, computers work and aeroplanes fly. I have been keeping it a secret that on a deeper level of consciousness I have always dreamt of being one. Let me explain: I think nerds are passionate about something that involves great detail and they try to get better at it all the time. Two key characteristics nerds exhibit are perseverance and fascination – sometimes with subject matter that most people would consider uninteresting. I dream of becoming an ever-evolving piano technician. This passion has been with me since my childhood, where I used to sit with piano tuners, watching their every move and asking the occasional question. As far as tuners and technicians go I have seen them all: good ones and many bad ones. There were even a few with drug habits, hangovers and one particularly bad one with such advanced emphysema that his heavy breathing drowned the sound of the piano. How he heard the piano above his breathing I could not figure out. All these less-than-perfect experiences have lead me to the conclusion that piano technicians fall into one of two categories: the second-hand-car-salesmen-type who cajoles you into the worst deal of your life and leaves you resenting your choices and the second group whom I am fascinated with: true artisans who inspire, improve, enrich and enlighten those around them in the process of being a fine piano technician and enable the pianist to be more than the sum of the parts. The reason for this blog was sparked by a visit from one of the world’s most sought-after piano technicians who recently made a social visit to my house in South Africa. Urs Bachmann resides in Switzerland. He travels the globe to work with some of the biggest star pianists in classical, jazz and pop music. I have had the opportunity to work with him in Switzerland and of the 20 or so Steinway concert grands which his company owns as part of their hire department, I have performed and recorded on a few. All were exquisite pianos in top shape and equally reliable. His preparation of these magnificent instruments has been flawless and I always looked forward to seeing this friendly and passionate man on each visit to Switzerland. Having a technician of this calibre in my own home in Pretoria, South Africa, attending to my personal instruments has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Little did I know it would all come true in a flash, with some extras. He was not supposed to do any work on this trip but my interest in learning and his quest to perfect pianos wherever he can lead to us spending almost two days working together and me learning more than my brain could handle. I have never had the urge to know what lies below the bonnet of my car, but the inside of the piano has always fascinated me. The power of this experienced technician to make me play more inspired, experience sounds and sensations I did not imagine possible whilst performing and simultaneously educating me about what is possible on these instruments, was the biggest thrill of my life. I have had a few such experiences, but this one was on another level. The speed, precision and focus with which he worked, as well as the accuracy with which he could diagnose a technical issue and resolve it before your eyes were astounding. I envy my colleagues who work with such technicians every day. During his visit Urs joined me for the first leg of a local concert tour and even here he could not resist to jump in and whip a rather tired instrument into shape within a few hours before the concert. The biggest lesson I learned from hours of conversation with him about this craft and his passion for it, was the overwhelming positivity with which he does his work. You can literally hear his happiness in the overtones of his tuning. His positive energy fills the piano, the hall and ultimately the pianist and the audience. Long live Urs Bachmann and all the other piano technicians who make our world a better place!