The stone Moai of Easter Island
Piano Services
Piano Services
KUNGFUBROTHERS.COM
In March of 2017, Kungfubrother Eric Yao embarked on a journey to South America to tune and repair the
pianos at
Toki Children's Music School on the remote island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). A graduate of the
Piano Technology Program at the University of Western Ontario, and having serviced pianos for the
Greater Toronto Area since 2003, Eric was well prepared for the challenges, and challenging it certainly
was!
Toki is a music school and cultural centre for the local children and youth of
Easter island. When you think of Easter Island, first thoughts are usually of the
mysterious giant stone moai statues. Little thought is paid to the
Rapa Nui, the
native inhabitants of the island. One of the principal founders of the school is
concert pianist
Mahani Teave, who as a child began her piano studies with the
only teacher and the only piano on the island. Within a year the teacher had
left and the only piano on the island fell into disrepair.
Students of Toki Music School
What's the story of the 1890 August Dassel
German piano, the1977 Polish Legniga
piano, the 2004 Richter Chinese piano, and
the 1960 Canadian Willis & Co Piano? How
did these and 5 others end up way out here
on one of the most remote locations on
Earth? If only pianos could talk...
Mahani and her 1913 Steinway 'O'
Eric Yao tuning one of Toki's pianos
Toki's 1890 August Dassel German piano
Piano keytop repair in-progress
"While planning my vacation to Chile, I wondered if there were any pianos
on Easter Island - that's when I learned of Toki"
- Eric
Eric with Enrique Icka, co-founder of Toki
"When the teacher left, my mum said it was just too cruel to
allow children to dream but then not be able to fulfill them.
That's when we moved to mainland Chile"
- Mahani
Mahani did fulfill her dream - becoming one of the most renowned
pianists of Chile, with performances around the world, from Germany to
Thailand, and from the United States to South Korea. She returned home
to Rapa Nui with the inspiration to establish
Toki so that the island's
children wouldn't have to relocate like she had to, in order to pursue their
dreams.

With generous donations, the number of pianos on the island have since
expanded.
Toki currently has 9, of varying ages and conditions. The
notion of a piano school on the island is a wonderful one, but also highly
ambitious. Pianos do need regular servicing and care, and importing a
technician from the mainland is an expensive endeavour. So when Eric
contacted Mahani with an offer of his voluntary service, it was warmly
welcomed.

Each piano presented its own challenges: pitch raisings, sticking keys,
badly corroded bass strings, tight centre pins, broken action parts,
missing keytops, unglued hammers...3 days of concentrated work in the
heat and humidity, and amidst voracious mosquitoes, were dedicated to
the 9 pianos.

The impact of servicing the pianos was immediately rewarding, judging
from observing the delight on the faces of Mahani and Toki's budding
pianists, but unfortunately no piano tuning lasts forever. Maybe Eric will
return to Rapa Nui one day, but until then perhaps this little story will
inspire other piano technicians to consider bringing their tools with them
on their travels.

For more information about Toki, please visit their website:
Toki Rapa Nui
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