Colorado Institute Of Musical Instrument TechnologyIn music retail, selling instruments is typically only half the battle: the other half is being able to fix them if they break. This challenge makes instrument repair one of the industry’s in-demand skills, though rarely one you can train for at the nearest college or trade school. One longtime technician’s answer for aspiring repair experts: the Colorado Institute Of Musical Instrument Technology, or CIOMIT. Founded in 2007 by Dan Parker, a 40-year veteran of the instrument repair trade, CIOMIT is the only instrument repair school to offer both onsite training and state-of-the-art online courses available around the world. In five years, the school’s programs in brass, woodwind, and stringed instrument repair have trained more than 200 repair technicians on four continents.
Creating The Next Generation Of Instrument Repair Technicians
Located in Castle Rock, Colorado, CIOMIT is also a high-level repair facility now processing rental fleets from music stores around the country. Its on-campus repair courses are presented in a working musical instrument repair shop, giving students access to a full range of tools and equipment, including lathes, buffers, ultrasonic machines, and a supply of instruments to learn on. While students choose their own class schedules and areas of interest from an extremely flexible menu of options, CIOMIT’s complete band instrument repair curriculum can be covered in nine months, and its entire stringed instrument program in another three months.
During that time, students learn to restore instruments of all types to new condition, even practicing on high-end flutes, clarinets, saxophones, oboes, and bassoons. For students with limited time to spend on campus, CIOMIT offers intensive “power courses” ranging from a single day to around seven weeks in length. For example, a student might travel to Castle Rock for a week of training in clarinet repair, or just a six-hour crash course in guitar setup.
Many CIOMIT students, however, never set foot on campus. In the institute’s seminar-style online courses, conducted by two-way webcam, an instructor teaches live on screen as students follow along, each working on a practice instrument from their home or workshop. At any time, students can alert the teacher to ask a question, or train the webcam on their work to have the instructor review their progress. A typical class is held in two-hour segments, twice a week, for a total of 16 instruction hours. On completing the course, students ship their repaired practice instruments back to CIOMIT for grading.
To date, CIOMIT clients have included Gerald Albright, Rick Baptist, Daniel Perantoni, members of the Denver Brass, and numerous school districts and universities. Increasingly, the institute is also taking its training on the road, hosting courses “on location” for groups that request them. This year CIOMIT instructors traveled to London, where they trained a group of 55 repair techs, and to Ghana, where they trained a group of nine. Similar courses will he held in Norway and Haiti next year. As CIOMIT’s mission states: “We believe experts are made, not born.”
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