John Alexander Musselwhite (Calgary, Alberta)
I apprenticed with my father from an early age, beginning with taking old actions apart, sorting screws and parts and learning how to clean pianos and do small repairs. Our Saturday afternoons would often be spent in the workshop, with the smell of hot hide glue and the sounds of “Saturday Afternoon at the Opera” filling the shop. When Dad became the Yamaha dealer in the early 1960’s, I helped un-crate and prepare new pianos for sale and delivery and helped get trade-in pianos ready for sale.
Through much of high school and after graduation I also worked in the Yamaha guitar and small musical instrument department of Rideau Music before entering into a career as a professional touring musician, playing bass and guitar as well as singing. Most of my career was spent playing with dine & dance Showbands, though I did many great gigs as a single act playing everything from the Beatles to Tom Lehrer.
While still playing gigs I attended the Broadcasting program at Mount Royal College in ’74/’75, learning the radio and TV industry and after graduating worked at CJFB-TV in Swift Current as both a technical operator and “on-air personality”. I was hired by CHCT-TV in Calgary shortly after that, as it changed to Independent status with the call letters CFAC-TV. For several years I worked in the VTR editing, Audio and Master Control positions and did many voice-over commercials before being asked to join the news staff by Ed Whalen as the host/producer of the late night TV news here in Calgary. After leaving the industry in 1980 It had been nearly a decade since my last exposure to the instrument before I returned to my first love… the piano.
With my father’s tutelage and working with brother Jamie, I became a full-time tuner/technician in 1981, tuning and preparing new pianos for the local Kawai and Steinway dealer. Within two years I was accepted into “Steinway School” in the company’s factory in New York and joined the Piano Technician’s Guild in 1983. I passed all three exams to become a full Craftsman member of the PTG in 1985. Further Steinway training and personal tutoring focused on concert service and the same year I became the concert tuner for the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, giving me the opportunity to tune for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Calgary Opera and many visiting artists.
Since then I have attended many conferences and seminars, receiving additional training from factory technicians from many different manufacturers including Steinway, Kawai and Yamaha. In 2009 I received highly specialized training from factory-trained Yamaha technicians, focusing on concert-level service and the highly acclaimed “Disklavier” reproducing piano.