Portraits of piano artisans: Nicolas

16 July 2021

We wanted to introduce you to the Dumas Piano team. 
Portrait of 4 people with different backgrounds but with one thing in common: a passion for pianos!

– Nicolas, how long have you been a tuner and why this job? 

It’s been 26 years! I understood at 17 that I wouldn’t make a living as a pianist because it’s too risky. As I was fascinated by the tuner who came to the house and I was a handyman, I put myself at the service of the pianists.

– How did you start in the business?

It was my high school German teacher who found out that I wanted to be a tuner and told her husband, who was a tuner himself , who told the owner of Piano Center. They were developing prototypes of silent systems and they were interested because I was a do-it-yourselfer and had some mechanical knowledge. They enrolled me in the Itemm (European Technological Institute for Music Professions) and took a 3-year CAP apprenticeship so that I could work on the prototypes. The Itemm was brand new, there was no BMA, there was only the course in 3 years.

– How long did you stay at Piano Center? 

I stayed there for 10 years. The first years, I only worked on prototypes and we developed one : it was the city piano 144. Afterwards I became a tuner in town for 4/5 years after my apprenticeship. Then I became a store preparer, a setter-finisher and then I did the restoration and finishing in the workshop. 

– What made you want to create Dumas Piano?

It had been in my head for a long time. At Piano Center things were going less and less well. We were 15 when I arrived and more than 6 at the end. It wasn’t going well. We were selling Chinese pianos, that didn’t interest me anymore. My private life was in the Vexin and I knew that there was no one in this field in the area so I started in September 2005. 

– How was the start of your business?

It was very slow, I started with nothing: very few customers, very little income; I gave piano lessons. I started at home, in my living room. It took a year to start. I started to have rentals, to equip myself with carts. Then I looked for a room because it was not very compatible with family and marital life 😁. I had a few criteria: no city center because it was impractical, no industrial zone for the environment. Word of mouth worked well and I found this old village supermarket in Montagny en Vexin.

– How long were you alone?

1 year. After I had a first apprentice in CAP 2 years, Louis. He didn’t stay. I stayed 2 years on my own again. It allowed me to invest in beautiful pianos that were intended for rental because I understood that I was going to like concert rental.

– Have you always offered all the services you have today?

Yes more or less but at different levels. I said yes to everything in fact, it’s the key to success I think when you start, it’s to say yes to everything.

– You took on apprentices and employees afterwards, why?

I needed someone in the workshop, I was always on the road. The amount of work was starting to get heavy. And then the desire to share, to transmit. So I hired Blandine in BMA in 2010. She stayed 10 years with Dumas Piano. Then there were Quentin and Félicien and then JF replaced Blandine when she left. Today we are 4.

– What could you tell us about this team of 4?

We’ve been 4 for 2 years. It’s great to be able to rely on a team, to share missions and to be able to benefit from everyone’s skills.

– You became a bit of a manager suddenly, not too difficult?

No, I don’t see myself as a manager at all. I’m still a tuner and the guys are very independent, I trust them completely in carrying out their missions.

– What do you like about this job?

The piano ! The diversity of tasks, contact with beginners or professional pianists.

– What advice could you give to a young person who would like to get into the business?

You have to be passionate about the piano to be able to learn the chord which is the basis of the profession. And enjoy repeating operations 88 times 😉

– How do you see Dumas Piano in 10 years?

As a developed restoration workshop, with real skills in varnish, furniture restoration, harmonic and mechanical structure. A maybe bigger team with even better equipment. And develop different partnerships but not only with brands 😉

To be continued…
Discover Felicien
Discover Quentin
Discover Jean-François
Discover Francine
Discover the other members of the team!
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