Crafting the Yamaha Technicians’ Guild

Developing and launching a technicians’ guild for musical craftspeople across Europe.

Client: Yamaha
Type of project: Education, Learning Community & Knowledge Sharing
Region: UK and Europe


Background

Yamaha began when Torakusu Yamaha started manufacturing piano and reed organ back in 1887. Today they are one of the largest names in professional instruments. A mixture of precision manufacturing and master craftsmanship – their instruments are used by some of the most famous artists on the planet.

So let’s say you’ve just bought a new Yamaha clarinet. It’s been hand-crafted and perfected, you’ve fallen in love with it, you’ve spent a while breaking it in and now it’s time to get it serviced…

Regardless of which grade you’re at these are precision instruments, with the slightest variation impacting the quality of the sound produced. Instrument technicians across the world are the people you bring your pride and joy to. You intrust them to know as much about the instrument as the people who made it – and fix it accordingly.

But mastering any skill, like maintaining and servicing an instrument, takes time.

The market was changing with more inexperienced technicians working on instruments. This shift in after-care needed to be addressed as every poorly repaired instrument reflected back on Yamaha.

Sadly, from chronology to the construction service, craftsmanship is losing the race for mass produced, disposable products.

With the scale of instruments Yamaha sell each year they also needed to train and support thousands of craft technicians that repair and maintain their instruments.

It was on this backdrop that we began working with Yamaha to embrace manage this change and turn it into a positive. 

The art of being emotionally touching

Kandō (感動) stands as a the foundation for the Yamaha brand. It’s a Japanese word, loosely translated as the sensation of profound excitement and gratification derived from experiencing supreme quality and performance.

What needed to change

Preserve and use the knowledge of master technicians: There was a huge amount of knowledge, from the masters in the field, which wasn’t being passed on or promoted. We saw this as a opportunity – to begin capturing and categorising this expertise and using it as a tool to educate, inform and train.

Keep a craft alive: Similar to many crafts, knowledge was once passed from generation to generation, from master to student. This was beginning to change and, as such, this knowledge wasn’t being instilled. With it the deep, rich understanding needed to bring the best out of the instrument was being lost.

Support a new wave of technicians: Train and up-skill a new generation of musical technicians. Give them the tools, support and knowledge to handle and care for these instruments.

Improve the service experience: Create a aftercare service experience that matched the high standards of every instrument. We’d already diagnosed that a key part of the customer experience relied on these interactions with technicians – reinforcing the value and quality at purchase. 

Create advocacy through education: Promote the Yamaha brand through educating and informing. In essence creating greater advocacy for the brand by supporting a greater knowledge and understanding for their instruments. In turn we could reinforce Yamaha’s position as a craft and technical brand in the market.

What we did

Launching the world’s first commercial Technicians’ Guild

We worked with Yamaha to develop the Yamaha Technician’s Guild. A concerted effort to collect, structure and impart the knowledge of master craftsmen to a new generation and enhance Yamaha’s position in the market.

Working with some of the most skilled technicians in the world to create a definitive guide of best practice for caring for and maintaining a vast array of musical instruments.

Building a library of knowledge with master craftspeople

We worked alongside mater craftsmen of every instrument Yamaha produce. Documenting key skills, techniques, approaches, nuances and ways to care for them. We worked with some of the leading instrument technicians in the UK to create guidance, resources and tools to support. 

This library of material became the foundation for the Guilds’ knowledge base. A collection of best practice we could use to develop into training and learning material – and retain as an archive for the future.

Develop a new learning and techniques framework

With a knowledge base we were able to build a new skills framework broken down by instrument, technique, and approach. This skills framework became the foundation for a series of learning tools designed to promote and reinforce best practice approaches.

We wrote, created, developed and designed in-depth material for every brass and woodwind instrument Yamaha created. Creating a resource library of repair and maintenance techniques for over xxx instruments.

The Yamaha Technician’s Guide was the culmination of this work – over 500 pages of insight, techniques and tools. A library of tools and techniques available to technicians and part of completing the Guilds’ training programme.

We supported in the development and launch of the UK pilot, with the intention of a worldwide launch if successful. We’re delighted to say it was. The Guild continues to go from strength to strength. Training new technicians in the craft of instrument care and imparting the knowledge.

We were really proud to be able to be part of promoting and supporting a craft that brings joy to millions of people across the world.