Wait, what? Kawai….Taiwan? My Kawai upright piano clearly states Made in Japan! Well, it was. Sort of. We’ll get to that briefly at the end of this article. First, we need to get into the wonderful Music4Fun program launched by this factory in Taoyuan, which produces instruments for both Kawai and Suzuki.
The half-day affair, which costs less then US$10, started with a brief introduction on sound and how sounds are produced. It is immediately followed by one of the coolest things a young child can imagine: a warehouse full of stuff to bang on.
After about an hour of chaotic percussion, and just after my ears started bleeding but blessedly before my brains liquified, we moved on to the warehouse next door which contained an actual operating assembly line where Kawai upright pianos are assembled.
Our tour guide did a wonderful job explaining how a piano works and giving the kids a hands-on tactile lesson in the clockwork-like mechanics behind upright pianos, which are a bit more complex then typical flat-types such as grand.
And it really was hands-on, too. He would explain and demonstrate something, then leave it to the kids to try it themselves.
And behavior like this didn’t make him flinch one bit.
I asked the tour guide if he was afraid that something would get broken and he replied “This is nothing. You should see our testing process.”
Of course as a photo-enthusiast, I took the opportunity to take some close-up photos of the lines and patterns that make up a piano’s innards.
Finally, the tour moved on to an adjacent shop where all the kids were given a DIY assembly project, Suzuki-branded recorders for the smallest children and harmonicas for those old enough to manage a screwdriver.
Oh, and don’t worry. The ‘clockwork’ inside your Kawai upright piano was made in Japan. This is what arrives into the factory, already assembled in the land of the rising sun.
The Kawai factory in Taoyuan, Taiwan makes the woodwork, assembles everything, then does quality testing. And they do a good job at it, too.
If you’re in the Taipei area and have K-6 aged kids, I highly recommend Music4Fun as an inexpensive, fun, and educational experience. More information (in Chinese) can be found at http://music4fun.com.tw.
A few more images…
Authors Note: I need to apologize for the lack of articles over the past couple of weeks. I kinda-sorta fell down and broke my wrist. Thankfully, it wasn’t my camera-hand and I’m using an Olympus E-P2, which is easy to use one-handed.