Dewald van Deventer a
Registered Piano Technician now based in KEMPTON Park East Rand.
When Dewald was about ten years old, doctors discovered that he had a brain tumor.
He went for surgery, and when he opened his eyes, he was totally blind. This was because the doctors had to cut the optic nerves to completely remove the tumor.
The next year he started attending Prinshof, a school for the blind in Pretoria, where he immediately started learning how to read Braille, walk with a cane, and relearn to do certain daily tasks without sight.
Dewald introduction to Pianos
Dewald started piano lessons at the age of twelve, and continued with his studies to the end of his school career.
After high school, he went to the University of the Free State “UFS”, in Bloemfontein.
He was fortunate to get a bursary to study at UFS Odeion School of Music.
After five years of studying piano performance, organ, music history, music repertoire, theory, and music education, with the emphasis on piano, he wrote a thesis about the different ways blind musicians learn to read music scores.
He completed his Honours degree in Piano Performance, and stopped his studies. For the next year Dewald gave some piano lessons until he figured out what he wanted to do.
Discovering Piano Tuning
Backing up a year or two, Dewald met one of his lecturer’s friends a piano builder from Austria.
He tuned Dewald’s practice room piano, and this awakened something in Dewald.
He couldn’t stop playing!
Dewald wondered if it would be possible for the Austrian to teach him, how to tune. So he asked him.
The piano builder taught Dewald with some tools from another lecturer in the music department.
He started teaching Dewald how to tune. unisons “tuning one string to another, and making it sound like one tone.
But the piano builder didn’t really have enough time to teach him. So Dewald set out to call different piano tuners and other piano technicians in South Africa, with the hope that they could teach him.
By this time, Dewald was adamant to learn more how to tune, and he called more than ten tuners, all over the country, to see if they could possibly teach him.
All of them gave the same response:
“The school that used to teach piano tuning to the blind, has closed down a few years ago. We don’t know when it will start again. We don’t have time or money to help you.”
They were willing to help him, but he kept on trying to find a way.
It had become an obsession.
One day, Dewald was browsing the internet, hoping he could find a school or institution where he could go to study overseas.
He found a piano tuning school for the blind in Vancouver Washington, in the USA.
The School of Piano Technology for the Blind, home of the Piano Hospital, offered a two-year course teaching blind individuals how to efficiently tune, repair, recondition regulate and service all sorts of pianos, by visually impaired instructors
It sounded like a perfect place to learn piano tuning.
The heading of the page was:
“Careers for the Blind and Visually impaired.”
This was exactly what he was hoping for.
He began praying for a sponsor, and told everyone about it.
Some told him just to leave piano tuning, and to rather teach piano lessons.
He was looking for a job by this time because he couldn’t get enough students to teach, and circumstances weren’t improving.
Lots of people made empty promises to him, to find him a job at a call centre or some place.
Finally, one and a half years later, Dewald went to Bloemfontein again to practice tuning with the piano builder from Austria, when an amazing opportunity arose.
One of his closest friend’s dad offered to help him get a sponsorship for training in becoming a piano technician.
Dewald thought that it would probably take years and months to obtain a sponsorship, but he continued praying about it, and hoping.
A few months later, a call came from someone who congratulated him on receiving the sponsorship!
He couldn’t believe it.
“I was so excited. God has finally reached out and given me this amazing opportunity!
With a few months until the school year started, he got everything worked out: applying for a visa, a place to stay in the US, etc. etc.
It all came together!
So that same year Dewald, flew all the way to America, and started attending The School of Piano technology for the Blind, located in the town of Vancouver, that lies on the border between the states Washington and Oregon.
Back in South Africa:
After completing the course at the school, they asked if he would work for them.
He worked for the school, going out to tune pianos for customers, in their homes, at schools, churches, and other public venues.
After six months, he returned to South Africa, and started his own company, Happy Pianos, in Bloemfontein, his Alma Mater.
Today he is tuning and servicing pianos in Kempton Park and all over the country , specifically in Gauteng, Free State, Northern, and Eastern Cape, and occasionally in KZN.
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