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The Piano Shop was founded by John Minor and Al Friederich in the fall of 2018 after the passing of Steve Schmidt, founder of the Piano People in Champaign, Illinois. Both John and Al shared a long friendship with Steve and greatly admired his commitment to excellence, exacting standards, intelligence, and integrity.


Co-Owner, Registered Piano Technician

John is a Registered Piano Technician member of the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG), and is a 1977 piano technology graduate of Western Iowa Tech. He recently retired after twenty-five years as head piano technician at the University of Illinois School of Music. He has also served as head technician at both Tanglewood and Sarasota Chamber Music Festivals. He has trained at Steinway in New York City as well as the Yamaha Little Red School House in California. As an active member of the PTG, John has taught seminar classes at the regional and national level. John continues to serve as concert technician for the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts as well as the University of Illinois School of Music.


Co-Owner, Bellyman Piano Rebuilder & Production Manager

Al served as bellyman piano re-builder and production manager with the Piano People in Champaign, Illinois since 1979, utilizing inherited engineering skills from his father who was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Requiring years of mechanical mastery, belly experts repair cracks in the soundboard and install new pinblocks, which hold the tuning pins of the piano. A master craftsman, Al has an intimate knowledge of pianos of every vintage and takes great pride in his collection of salvaged parts from piano makers of the 20th century.

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