Iowa Alumni Magazine | February 2016 | People

High Five

By Shelbi Thomas

Steve Carver tuning piano ILLUSTRATION: BUCK JONES

Steve Carver has been the head piano technician at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City for the past four years, he still considers Hancher and the UI School of Music home.

With more than two decades of experience as the UI's piano tuner, Carver jumped at the chance this past October to help Hancher executive director Chuck Swanson, 75BBA, 76MBA, and his team select a grand piano from the Steinway & Sons factory in New York. The piano will be a centerpiece of Hancher's new building when it opens next fall.

Hancher's previous concert grand piano was moved before the 2008 Iowa City flood devastated the old building, but was later damaged in storage. As Hancher's re-opening day draws closer, the UI team sought a new Steinway that could be used for the auditorium's wide range of needs. In the end, the team chose the Steinway Model D, which Carver says demonstrates a good balance of brilliance and resonance. The piano is on display at West Music in Coralville until it finally moves to the grand stage later this year.

For others also in the market for a new piano, Carver offers these selection tips:

  • 1. Try several different brands and models to find the most appealing sound.
  • 2. Return to the music store a few times to replay the pianos, because first impressions often change.
  • 3. Play diverse pieces on the piano to note the instrument's range.
  • 4. Consult with a technician before buying a used piano to check for structural problems.
  • 5. Remember that more affordable electric keyboards don't offer the same sound as a piano.