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Professor Making Name for Himself Restoring Pianos

Last updated on February 20, 2024

Professor Victor Soto traveled the world as a concert pianist shortly after graduating college in the early 2000s. He’s performed at many prestigious concert halls, including the Mozarteum in Austria named after Mozart and in his native Panama at the National Theatre of Panama.

But, after two-and-a-half years on the road, Soto desired a job with more structure. Eventually, that desire landed him at Dallas College’s Mountain View Campus. He’s been with the college since 2006 and remains one of the most respected music professors around.

Outside of his work in the classroom, though, Soto is also making a name for himself as a master piano technician through his company Precision Piano Craft. He recently spent a couple of years fully restoring a C. Bechstein 1865. Yes, that piano has been around since the Civil War.

“It was a very big challenge because there were no parts for that instrument,” Soto said. “I had to transform the entire mechanism of what we call an old action to a new action. It was really fun for me. You have to do a lot of calculations, a lot of physics, a lot of mathematics, a lot of all of that stuff.

“It’s a fun side business that I do on weekends and whenever I’m not teaching.”

Dallas College provided the opportunity for Soto to pursue this interest through its professional development requirements for employees. For the college, it was beneficial because Soto learned how to maintain the college’s own pianos should any issues arise. As Soto described, a piano is much like a car in that it requires consistent maintenance.

That interest has ballooned over the years, and Soto has gone from learning the basics of tuning and maintaining pianos to fully restoring them. He’s trained at some prestigious places, too, including the Renner Academy at the Renner USA headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona; Yamaha Corporation of America in Buena Park, California; the C. Bechstein Technicians’ Academy at the C. Bechstein factory in Seifhennersdorf, Germany; the C.F. Theodore Steinway Academy at the Steinway & Sons Factory in Astoria, New York; Schimmel Pianos factory in Braunschweig, Germany; Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik in Großpösna, Germany; and the Fazioli piano factory in Sacile, Italy.

The Fazioli piano has been referred to as “The Ferrari among Pianos,” and Soto is one of just a handful of technicians in America who is certified to work on them. At the end of the day, Soto has become a well-known technician throughout DFW and believes there is an opportunity for Dallas College to create a piano technology certificate.

“We have at least five million pianos in DFW and just about 40 technicians,” said Soto, who serves as the vice president of the Dallas chapter for the Piano Technicians Guild.

“Several manufacturers are in support of an apprenticeship program because, like I said, pianos are like cars. Parts wear down. A piano’s hammers, those little things that hit strings, need to get replaced. Strings get rusted. Things like that. There is a need for more piano technicians.”

In the meantime, Soto remains as passionate about teaching music as ever before at Dallas College. He has a simple sales pitch for any student interested too.

“Music is a language, and it’s just beautiful to learn a new language,” he said. “And, here at Dallas College, we have not only qualified instructors, but they are also amazing performers themselves, that our students can learn from.”

This story and others like it can be found in the Student Newsletter. Check your Dallas College email to see the latest edition.

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