Kevin Edwin Stock
Kevin Stock is enjoying a career as one of the top piano Concert Technicians and Instructors of Technical Training & Education in the U.S. He has worked at Steinway & Sons headquarters in New York City as a tuner of their pianos for high profile concerts in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and also as an instructor in technical training and education. He is presently an acclaimed teacher of other technicians and students at The Colburn School of the Arts in Los Angeles.
Kevin was born in Durango, Colorado, and spent his childhood in Canon City, Colorado, on a ranch, the oldest of three children and one of two sons of Joseph and Janice Stock. Although he started piano lessons at age seven and was familiar with recordings by significant pianists of that time and was active in music when he attended Platte Valley Academy in Nebraska for his freshman year, it wasn’t until his sophomore year at Campion Academy in Colorado that he had an experience that inspired him to pursue music as a career:
At Platte Valley we had a handbell choir that I participated in. I really enjoyed the camaraderie, the music, and the traveling. I switched over to Campion at the end of my freshman year at Platte Valley because it was much closer to home. About half way through my sophomore year at Campion, Dr. Walters and Dr. Murray came to the school with their two sons and gave a musical program. When I heard them playing together, I asked myself “How much better can it be to be able to play in a group like that?” It was a turning point for me.
Hearing recordings is great but being able to hear music live and then to interact with the musicians afterwards, sitting down with them in the cafeteria and sharing in a meal together, more than anything else got me fired up. They helped me see that I had potential and could move forward and even accelerate my training. I was already on track to finish high school in three years, but when I figured out I could go to college a year earlier if I had a GED, it seemed like a logical thing to do.
Soon thereafter, Kevin enrolled at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Although he was technically proficient as a pianist, he had had no training in music theory. Through persistence and hard work, however, he successfully completed Music Theory I and his first year as a music major.
He held several jobs during that year but had to transfer to the University of Southern Colorado at the beginning of his sophomore year to avoid financial debt. Soon after registering at USC he was awarded a full scholarship and completed a degree there in piano performance in 1987.
His dream of going to Eastman School of Music and pursuing a career as a concert pianist was shattered when he suffered a serious arm fracture shortly after graduation. He worked on the family ranch in Canon City, Colorado, and then for two years at a local mortuary before returning to UC in 1989 to begin a degree in business. While doing a paper on an “obscure” profession for a class, he decided to explore that of piano tuning and repair.
When he interviewed Richard West, piano technician at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he suggested Kevin go to Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City in pursuit of additional material for his paper. Kevin was captivated by what he discovered.
Although the two-year training program was already underway, he convinced the program administrator that he could catch up and was eventually allowed to join the piano technology program midway through the first year. Because of his background and dedicated work ethic he quickly surged ahead of others in the class. Out of curiosity he also took some classes in auto body repair at WIT and was particularly impressed with the painting and finishing techniques used in that class. He would eventually incorporate them into the repair and restoration of pianos.
Following completion of his formal class work, he returned to UNL for an internship with West and then spent the summer at the Aspen Music Festival, where he assisted in maintaining the pianos. By the end of the festival he had completed all of the requirements for the WIT piano technician program and received an associate degree in piano technology.
Shortly thereafter, Kevin accepted a position at a Steinway dealer in Omaha and quickly established a reputation as a dedicated and trustworthy piano technician, committed to the highest standard in workmanship and service. His reputation led to an invitation to work at Schmitt Music in Minneapolis, the parent company of the store where he was working. As part of this new position, he was to be in charge of all piano services for the company, the largest piano supplier in the Midwest.
His work impressed those at Steinway headquarters in New York City and in 1996 he was invited to be one of seven concert technicians there, and later, an instructor in their Technical Training and Education program. In this position he was a tuner’s tuner, superbly qualified to handle all aspects of the profession, including tuning, voicing, and regulating – factors which profoundly affect the sound and artistry expected from the performer and piano in the most acclaimed concert halls in the world.
Due to unexpected circumstances relating to the operation of the family ranch in Colorado in 1998, he responded to his father’s request to return home that summer. He soon realized that the allotted vacation time from Steinway would run out before the work was done and decided to resign from the company so that he could help his father and brother complete the summer tasks.
During this time Kevin rediscovered his love for the rural and rugged landscape of his childhood. The return home provided time for reflection and led him to change his course and pursue a better balance between career aspirations and the quality of his life.
At the end of summer 1998, Stock returned to Minneapolis, where he owned a house he had purchased when working there earlier, and resumed a working relationship with Schmitt Music Centers. In the early part of 2002 he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, and enrolled fulltime in a flight training school to pursue the dream of becoming a pilot, a lifelong interest.
In that same summer he was contacted by the Aspen Music Festival to help with their summer music activities. For the next five years he worked there, becoming their chief concert piano technician, before accepting a position as Director of Piano Technology at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles in 2007, a position he still holds.
Colburn is a highly selective school that offers an academy for pre-college gifted students, a conservatory that awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and a community school that offers a curriculum for students of all ages.
In 2003 Kevin met and married Shama Roderick, an accomplished musician and singer. She is a graduate of Loma Linda University and the University of California at Berkeley, with a specialty in nutrition and public health. The child of missionaries, she was born in Korea and at the time of their marriage was living in Germany.
They moved to Canon City in 2004, where they presently reside with their two sons, Anton and Lyndon. Kevin commutes to Los Angeles for his work at CSPA.
Sources: Interview with Kevin Stock, November 2013; Erik Stenbakken, “Musical Chairs,” International Adventist Musicians Association Notes, Summer/Autumn 1998, 10-17.