The School

School of Piano Technology for the Blind to close and establish Endowment Fund

After nearly seven decades of teaching and training blind and visually impaired students to tune and repair pianos, the School of Piano Technology for the Blind has elected to close its doors effective later this year. The piano retail sales will also wind down operations over the next few months, however the piano tuning program will continue to operate as before through a succession plan that is being finalized.

Although the school has experienced great success over the years, the world has changed in ways that have impacted the organization’s core programming. Most importantly, educational and employment opportunities for the blind and visually impaired have improved dramatically. While the school’s board, which includes members of Emil’s family, has found this to be a very difficult decision, they are also pleased that members of the blind and visually impaired community have so many more employment options from which to choose.

With these factors in mind, the board of directors has determined that it is in the best interest of the organization to dissolve its operations. The organization will transfer its assets into a permanently endowed fund in the name of Emil B. Fries. This fund will allow the use of the school’s assets to create a larger impact through annual grants to organization serving the blind and visually impaired community.

Established in 1949 by Emil Fries, the school has graduates from more than forty states and sixteen foreign countries and has served as the only vocational training program of its kind.  Emil was a graduate of the Washington State School for the Blind, and as board member and family representative Doug Hunt noted, “When my grandfather, Emil founded the school there were very few options available for blind and visually impaired individuals to find work that provided true financial independence. The record shows that 70 percent of the school’s graduates went on to a career in the piano technology field and have earned up to $75,000 per year, with an annual average of $46,000. More than anything, Emil was a visionary who helped open the door for blind and visually impaired individuals to pursue a wide array of career options, and we know that he would be proud to have left such a legacy.”

The board wishes to acknowledge and thank the many foundations, individual donors, and volunteers who have generously supported the school with their time, talent, and resources over these many years. This support has enabled us to change the lives of our students, enrich communities and maintain a solid financial position that will establish Emil’s endowment and continue to benefit causes supporting blind and visually impaired individuals.”

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email:
Cheri Martin, Executive Director, (360) 693-1511