A little-known star of Tickle the Ivories is Geoff Metcalfe, who takes care of our pianos throughout the festival, tuning and repairing our instruments.
Players young and old have taken advantage of our free pianos, but there’s one man who without him, we wouldn’t be able to do it at all. Geoff spends his time maintaining and tuning pianos with an expert hand, making sure those notes you’re hearing in our public spaces are tuned to perfection.
Geoff is somewhat of a mainstay of the Liverpool music scene, with music forming a very early part of his life and clearly influencing his path. Geoff’s mum was an opera singer and once performed on stage with Noel Coward.
How did Geoff start out in pianos?
Geoff found he enjoyed playing piano and moved through the grades to achieve Grade 6, before becoming interested in the guitar and starting a band similar to Status Quo. He then went into developing original music with his band Suspect.
Geoff completed a 5-year apprenticeship in the piano trade at Rushworth’s, leaving in the mid-80s after ending up running the workshop. He then went on to work at the famous Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, working on three Coldplay albums and music from Marillion and Lindisfarne. He was also involved in the production on Adele’s first album – so it’s quite likely you’ll have heard Geoff play many times before!
What are some of the highlights of his career?
Some of his highlights include when he maintained the pianos for Paul McCartney, which as you can imagine, had to be kept in top condition – so our Tickle pianos are in good hands!
What are Geoff’s favourite pianos to play?
His favourite piano at Tickle is the Kemble, but last year he bought a Hopkinson 1940s which has been well made and maintained, and is a great asset to our stock. Geoff tries to pick pianos that will last and play well, even when they’re out on our streets. Our Customer Support Officers work hard to look after the pianos and protect them from water damage, which can often mean a huge operation to get them undercover when the heavens open!
But Geoff’s favourite piano of all time to play is a Bösendorfer, but he tries to have a play on a Steinway whenever he comes across one!
And finally, what is Geoff’s favourite thing about Tickle?
Geoff’s favourite thing about Tickle is when he come across youngsters starting out their journey by playing our pianos, knowing that access to a piano isn’t always readily available. He remembers a time when it was commonplace to have a piano in a household, but the tradition has waned. So therefore, it’s heart-warming to see pianos that have been sitting unused brought back to life to use for Tickle the Ivories.
Tickle the Ivories runs until September, and is Liverpool’s much-loved piano festival.
Click here to learn more about Geoff and his involvement in Tickle the Ivories.