Tucked away in the back streets of old Havana and a world apart from the tourist trade is the National Workshop of Instrument Repair warehouse. When the Russians became Cubas close ally in the 1960s and 70s they used the workshop as a training centre for what is now the current generation of Cuban piano tuners and technicians

Two classes of blind and partially sighted tuners graduated from here-the first in 1970, and another class two years later.
However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, this training programme ceased, and the workshop fell steadily into disrepair

Due to the US trade embargo, piano technicians on the island cannot buy the tools and materials they need, and as the older generation of Cuban tuners retires, the skills that go with the tools are also disappearing

Pianists in Cuba face challenges that people in Europe can't imagine. The island's tropical climate is particularly hard on things made from wood.
Now an Irish group is helping to restore thousands of pianos that have fallen into disrepair

Since 2006 Irish piano tuners have been going to Havana to help train local technicians.
Under the title "Una Corda - The Irish Cuban Piano project" and working in conjunction with the Havana Arts Authority and the Cuban Ministry of Culture they have now been given the responsibility of restoring and re-equipping the National Workshop there

Over the last number of years tourists travelling to Cuba have made a real contribution to the project by becoming one of Una Corda's mules. Volunteers simply carry a package of piano parts or tools with them in their luggage when they go. So far over three hundred kilos of parts have been carried in luggage all with the approval of the Cuban authorities

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