'Music man' repairs keeps music playing in Portland schools - KPTV - FOX 12

'Music man' repairs keeps music playing in Portland schools

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Lindy Wunn may have a lonely job as the only repairman in the Portland Public Schools music repair shop, but his work has helped thousands of students develop their musical skills over the years.

Wunn fixes woodwinds, brass, string and percussion instruments - everything but pianos - and he's been at it for almost three decades.

When he started in the 1980s, there were a total of five repairmen, but decades of budget cuts to music programs left Wunn the last repairman standing.

He calls his workshop a one-man MASH unit. Broken and battered instruments arrive daily, and he fixes them as quickly as he can so they get back into the hands of music students. 

"You know, you get the instruments out there - the looks may not be the greatest but they will all play and they will all work," he said. "And that's the number one priority. Sometimes the dents get taken out, sometimes they don't."

Most of the instruments owned by the district date back to the 1950s. Wunn said about 5,000 of them are still in use, but there are several thousand more not in use; some of them are un-repairable, and some could be repaired if he had the time.

There are several shelves of horns, cellos and flutes in need of work, and some of those instruments have been there for years.

If the damage to an instrument is minor, Wunn can repair up to 20 a day. If they're in bad shape, maybe just two or three a day.  

Often, Wunn starts the repair job with little feedback from the musician, nothing but a note from the student that says "won't play."

"Sometimes you can tell it's on purpose, sometimes you can tell it's an accident. Sometimes it's just plain wear," he said.

Wunn never complains about the workload, but says he's ready to retire. Initially, it appeared he may not be replaced, but Portland Public Schools says it will now hire a new music repairman.

Wunn plans to stay an extra six months to train the replacement.

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