International student returns to MSC Southeast in Red Wing to give band instrument repair clinic
Keiko Tsuda came back to school on November 19 -- but this time it was to teach, not to study.
Originally from Japan, Keiko (pronounced Kay-Koh) studied saxophone performance at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music near Tokyo and lived in Australia before coming all the way to Red Wing, Minnesota to master the craft of band instrument repair (BIR).
This week she returned to MSC Southeast to give a clinic on key concepts that can help repair technicians work more efficiently and effectively. She demonstrated tools, tips and tricks, and specific techniques for a very attentive group of BIR students in the woodwind lab.
Just two and a half years ago, Keiko was a student herself! She had been working in different industries for nearly 20 years in Japan and Australia. "Finally, I decided to follow my passion, but there is no band instrument repair school in Australia. I visited repair shops in Sydney, but they don't do apprenticeships, so there was no opportunity there," she said.
However, she got a tip there that would change the course of her life. "A technician in Sydney told me that there is one of the best repair school in Red Wing, Minnesota, USA. I asked myself -- I already migrated from Japan to Australia, do I need to go overseas again? But I didn't have any family there, or a mortgage, so I decided to do it!"
Coming back to college to speak to the class of 2020, Keiko shared some of the expertise she has gained since she graduated. She demonstrated a number of tools and emphasized how important it is to use them efficiently and safely.
Buy your last tool first
Her first piece of advice was to invest in top-quality tools from the beginning. "Buy your last tool first," she said. "It will save money in the long term over buying cheap tools and upgrading, and it will save a lot of frustration."
She also suggested color-coding matched sets of tools to make it easier to pick up the correct size on the first try, not digging through various sizes over and over every time you use them. "Saving a half-second on a particular action may not seem like much, but when you think of how many times you might do that action at your work bench every day, it matters," she told them.
Keiko recommended buying tools that are ergonomically designed. "With ergonomic tools, you can reduce the chances of injury," she said. "For example, we use screw drivers every day and we will turn screws for next 50 years, so if the tools are ergonomic, it will make a big difference in your career."
Even though she's only been working for a couple of years, BIR instructor John Huth said, "Her confidence and skills were on display as she succinctly and thoroughly explained what she does and why."
Immediately after graduating, Keiko found employment at Tim's Music in Sacramento, California, under the mentorship of Master Technician Scott Mandeville.
Learning new things every day
"I want to continue learn the craft of Band Instrument Repair in the U.S. as my home country does not have the opportunity to learn from masters of this field. The United States is leading this industry," she noted.
"Mastering band instrument repair is not an easy journey, it takes time. The Band Instrument Repair Program at MSC Southeast gets you started, but after that, you have to learn more, improve your skills and develop your own techniques by applying the concepts you have already learned. I am excited to be learning new things every day."