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China Do Re Mi | Stephan Mohler: simple work some well makes for high quality

2019-September-20       Source: Newsgd.com

Forty years ago, when Stephan Mohler was a stage technician in Theater Basel, Switzerland, he saw a piano being tuned for the first time. He was fascinated with the craft, and has since then devoted himself to piano making.

Entering Stephan Mohler’s office, one’s attention will be drawn to a big and tall desk especially tailored to his height, along with piles of drawings and component models of pianos. On the wall hangs a picture of Jungfrau mountain, the breathtaking view out of a window in his home in Switzerland.

Stephan Mohler [Photo: Steven Yuen]

Forty years ago, when Stephan Mohler was a stage technician in Theater Basel, Switzerland, he saw a piano being tuned for the first time. He was fascinated with the craft, and has since then devoted himself to piano making.

He once worked in a top piano-making factory in Germany. “Life is short, and you have to believe many things.” When he was 54, he made a decision to change his life. “I’d never worked in such a big company with 2 or 3 thousand staff.” He came to Guangzhou in 2010 with only a 23-kg bag, and his career goal.

At Pearl River Pianos, he has led the technical team to establish a production line based on the standards of European top-flight piano manufacturing technology, and launch the Kayserburg Artist (KA) series.

Stephan Mohler (R) [Photo: Steven Yuen]

It requires half a year to produce a KA piano. In his eyes, the secret of high quality lies in simple work done well. The quality of the KA comes not only from the long production time, but also from training and developing the team to a higher standard. “We start very small. The most important element is teaching, because you need a team who know more than the basics,” he said.

“The biggest surprise for me in China is working with so many talented young people who like to work, learn to make good products and persist in their drive to be better,” said Mohler. Everyday, Mohler will instruct the staff in how to perform tuning and voicing.

The 64-year-old man still works 10 hours a day. In the morning, he goes to the factory to check on all the procedures, and according to him there is always room for improvement. In the factory, a tuned piano is put aside. While it is technically up to standard, and ready to move to the next procedure, Mohler wants hold it and do the tuning over again, his translator told us.

Stephan Mohler [Photo: Steven Yuen]

Having lived in Guangzhou for nearly ten years, Mohler has witnessed the fast pace of change in China, the emergence of more and more housing, industry and infrastructure. In his eyes, Guangzhou and its people are inclusive and open.

When he first arrived in this city, he could hardly speak English or Chinese. He went to the restaurant ordering food via body language alone. Now, communication has become easier, he knows a little bit of Cantonese and Mandarin, and he says “More and more young people in China can speak perfect English, much better than me!”.

Author: Hannah Zhou

Editors: Simon Haywood, Keane Wong

Editor: Monica Liu

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