Piano Technology
Primary Contacts:
John Cavanaugh
Robert Murphy

Division Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8275

John Cavanaugh

John Cavanaugh

Executive Director of Keyboard Technology
Director of Steinway at Oberlin, in affiliation with C.F. Theodore Steinway Technical Academy
Director of Artist Diploma in Piano Technology program
Director of Chinese Technical Intensive

John Cavanaugh

“We don’t go to a piano and just start working on it. We survey the problem. We think about how we can make its strengths better and how we can camouflage its weaknesses. And then we go to work.”

Contact Information


Bibbins Hall
(440) 775-6605

John Cavanaugh

Educational Background

  • BA, History, Kalamazoo College
  • Journeyman’s Certificate, North Bennet Street School, Boston
  • Diploma, Advanced Piano Technology, North Bennet Street School
  • Further study, Steinway & Sons, New York and Hamburg Factories

John Cavanaugh, RPT, is the director of the Artist Diploma in Piano Technology program and executive director of keyboard technology. Cavanaugh has had a strong connection with Steinway & Sons since his graduation from the North Bennet Street School in 1987. Immediately upon graduation, Cavanaugh worked for Steinway dealerships in Boston and Detroit. In  2001, he joined Oberlin’s piano technology department, where he became department head two years later.  

In 2003, he and John Patton of Steinway & Sons, created Steinway at Oberlin, a summer program of classes for the Steinway Academy. The conservatory remains the only offsite factory training facility for Steinway & Sons. Cavanaugh continues to direct this program with Kent Webb of Steinway. In 2017, Cavanaugh founded the Chinese Technical Intensive program, in which a group of piano technicians and Chinese translators instruct beginning Chinese piano technicians in tuning and action regulation.

Cavanaugh works on the concert stage preparing pianos for artists worldwide. He also has taught piano technology classes for students at the conservatory and has led special courses overseas, most notably in South Africa and China. Cavanaugh works as a concert technician every summer at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he also teaches piano technology to apprentice staff. He is a concert technician for the Steinway-sponsored Cleveland International Piano Competition.

Cavanaugh received training from the C.F. Theodore Steinway Technical Academy in both the New York and Hamburg factories. His training in the New York factory included work in the classroom and in the forefinishing, damper, and voicing departments. At the Hamburg plant, he received special training in action and voicing service.