Smithson Music

Washington, DC

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About this pro

Alvin is a well known and highly sought after pianist, teacher and composer in the Washington area.
Alvin performs on the piano for concerts, recitals, cabarets, theaters and at special events. . He accompanies choirs and soloists and directs musical theater plays. He loves playing all styles of music: classical, jazz, blues, rock, you name it. In addition to piano, he also plays Native American flute, oboe, and guitar.

Alvin gives lessons in piano, guitar, voice and song writing. He provides vocal acting coaching and audition preparation. His students develop a firm musical foundation through mastering technique, training the ear, sight reading and exploring all aspects of musical creation. Alvin encourages creativity through improvisation, composition and lyric writing, recording and playing all styles of music best suited to individual need and inclination.

Alvin holds a Masters of Music degree from Catholic University in piano performance with emphasis on performance physiology. He composes songs for piano and voice and arranges music for cabarets, choirs and instrumental groups. He is the composer of several musical plays for adult and children.

Alvin is an expert piano tuner. He studied with Baldwin Piano and has over 30 years of experience in piano tuning.

Location

Washington, DC 20013

Times hired on Thumbtack

89

Reviews

57 Reviews
  • Jose L. Sep 18, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin took his time tuning our piano. He was very thorough and did an excellent job. I highly recommend him anyone who needs a piano tuned.
  • Aarti P. Sep 4, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Great service! Alvin was very thorough and friendly. I appreciated his personal tough - this is his passion and not so much a "job" for him. I am extremely pleased...my piano sounds great now!
  • Tru L. Aug 28, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • George A. Aug 27, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Easy 5 Star rating on this piano tuning job. Got some great demo music also!
  • Joy E. Aug 15, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    I will definitely hire Mr. Smithson again. He is a true professional!
  • Nicole B. Aug 10, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin is wonderful! He's very knowledgeable and professional. You can tell he loves what he does. That makes a difference. I'm likely going to hire him to teach me too!
  • Jessica C. Jul 26, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin was great. We loved listening to him work and were treated to a couple songs at the end! Would not hesitate to work with him again for our next tuning.
  • Megan H. Jul 18, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • Kevin T. Jul 11, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Piano sounds great!
  • Vaughn R. Jul 8, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Mr. Smithson was the consummate gentleman, and did a thorough job that was fantastic. His talent and experience show with everything he did. If you need a piano tuner or music instructor, look no further than Alvin Smithson!
  • Richard L. Apr 14, 2017
    Excellent piano tuner, teacher and overall musician
    I have used Alvin Smithson's services for over five years as a piano tuner, teacher and performer. I am always impressed with his skills, artistry and professionalism. Alvin first came to tune my 100-years old Steinway after it had been neglected for a number of years. He first examined the instrument, diagnosed what needed to be done and then proceeded with his expert tuning. Immediately after he was done and started playing, I was amazed at how good the piano sounded. Alvin explained that with a piano that hasn't been tuned or played in so many years, it will take some time to achieve its best form and sound for which it was built. A short time after, my wife started taking piano lessons from Alvin and as she started gaining proficiency in playing under his guidance, the piano itself gained a rich pleasing sound. Alvin paid close attention and adjusted notes or did a full tuning whenever needed. He also took the time to clean the strings and do minor technical adjustments. When a string needed to be replaced, Alvin recommended a technician from a highly reputable company. Overall, we owe it to his expertise to have the wonderful old piano do what it was built for by the Steinway masters. I should also mention that I heard some great musicians at venues where Alvin is the regular piano tuner. People who visit our house and hear our piano, or play it themselves, always compliment its sound. But the best comes when Alvin himself sits at the keyboard, whether at our house, at a social function or performing in the theater, it's such a joy to hear him play some great classical pieces as well as his own wonderful compositions. He is truly a very talented, sensitive and highly knowledgeable artist. And such a pleasant person, too. My wife and I feel fortunate to have Alvin give us the best piano sound to enjoy live music in our home. I would recommend him to anyone as piano tuner, teacher and overall musician.
  • Will J. Apr 14, 2017
    Pianist
    Verified Review
    Alvin's rates are very reasonable! Experienced piano tuner and performer!
    Alvin Smithson is a very gifted classically trained musician. Accomplished in all aspects of piano performance and instruction. He is a leader in the theater community and composer of solo piano and orchestral music in contemporary and classical styles. A very genuine and sincere person, willing to dialogue on music topics with everyone at any level. Alvin is also an expert on tuning and maintenance of pianos. You cannot find anyone more knowledgeable, careful, and trustworthy to tune your piano. His rates are very reasonable. 5 Stars!
  • Edwin J. Apr 14, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Outstanding Service!
    Alvin was very flexible to meet my demanding and changing schedule. He went above and beyond to tune and clean my Piano. I strongly recommend Alvin for future projects and wouldn't hesitate to contact him again, if needed.
  • Lloyd M. Apr 7, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Thank you, Thank you
    Mr. Smithson tuned our Kawai baby grand which had not been tuned for almost 7 years. He was very personable, talented and efficient.
  • Patric C. Apr 6, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review Updated
    Unprofessional and unskilled tuner, avoid at all costs!
    Non-communicative and no ability to tune accurately. If you pay up front, good luck on ever getting him to get the job done well, even if you file a dispute and call Thumbtack yourself. So amateur as to use a freaking mobile app to tune instead of a tuning fork or other professional tuner, and has no idea how to perform technical work, more or less telling you to go find someone else if your piano has a problem. A $5 guitar tuner is more accurate than his non-service. Clearly has no professional training nor certification in piano tuning to be offering paid service to anyone - the only level of quality you'll get from this "pro" is the level you'd expect from someone who Google'd a few articles on the subject and then thinks he's good enough to offer paid tuning service, and sadly, the average person without sharp pitch detection wouldn't figure until too late. A total waste of $120 and 3 weeks of my time that I'll never get back, on top of an additional 4 weeks I'll now have to wait for the replacement string my new tuner (who actually knows what he's doing for a change) installed to stabilize, thanks to this "pro"'s incompetence and negligence. Don't be fooled by his piano _playing_ skill - professional piano tuning skills are not just something a piano player automatically picks up without getting professional trained to do so!
    Alvin S. Apr 7, 2017

    Dear sir I'm terribly sorry things didn't work for you. I did everything I could. I'm sorry my schedule was so busy during the time you hired me that I couldn't respond right away and take care of things in the time you needed. It would've been best to immediately refer you to someone else. I was trained by Baldwin to tune. I also studied with Ormond Pratt, long time tuner at Kennedy Center as well as an apprenticeship at Schaefer piano for tuning. At Schaefer we had tuners that tune and technicians who do the structural work. I've tuned hundreds of pianos over my lifetime and hundreds of pianos I've been carrying for for years. I also tune for professional artists every week and they love my tunings. I use a tuner only to be sure I'm close. My ear does most of the work because I listen to the vibrations like the old style tuners do. If there is a problem with the piano that I can not fix I recommend to a technician who knows that subject better than me and has a shop. A pitch raise is a pitch raise and you don't try to bring it up all the way the first time. I'm so glad I already prepared the piano for the technician you hired. For him to call me amateur is wrong when he doesn't even know me and looked at my body of works. I've retuned lots of pianos tuned by experienced tuners after they go out of tune especially for concerts. Have read the other reviews. All stellar. Again I'm so sorry it didn't work out.

  • Verified Review Original
    Unprofessional and unskilled tuner, avoid at all costs!
    Non-communicative and no ability to tune accurately. If you pay up front, good luck on ever getting him to get the job done well, even if you file a dispute and call Thumbtack yourself. So amateur as to use a freaking mobile app to tune instead of a tuning fork or other professional tuner, and has no idea how to perform technical work, more or less telling you to go find someone else if your piano has a problem. A $5 guitar tuner is more accurate than his non-service. Clearly has no professional training nor certification in piano tuning to be offering paid service to anyone - the only level of quality you'll get from this "pro" is the level you'd expect from someone who Google'd a few articles on the subject and then thinks he's good enough to offer paid tuning service, and sadly, the average person without perfect pitch wouldn't figure until too late. A total waste of $120 and 3 weeks of my time that I'll never get back, on top of an additional 4 weeks I'll now have to wait for the replacement string my new tuner (who actually knows what he's doing for a change) installed to stabilize, thanks to this "pro"'s incompetence and negligence. Don't be fooled by his piano _playing_ skill - professional piano tuning skills are not just something a piano player automatically picks up without getting professional trained to do so!
  • Suzie D. Mar 27, 2017
    Pianist
    Verified Review
    Exemplary Service
    Alvin performs uplifting songs that compliment the Church service.
  • Gary C. Mar 8, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    A master of what he does.
    He was an example of dedication and professionalism. On time, well dressed, knowledgeable, informative, in general, all the qualities you look in an American music MAESTRO. Definitely will be recommended to all my piano friends.
  • Brian B. Mar 6, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Sounds great
    He did a great job. I've got an older piano and he got it sounding beautiful
  • Peach P. Feb 28, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent service
    My piano sounds much much better. He's very nice and polite person.
  • Mitchell S. Feb 12, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent piano tuner
    Steinway baby grand tuned after moving to D.C. Flexible with scheduling. Included fixing some sticking keys at no additional charge. Piano sounds great.
  • Carolyn G. Jan 29, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Good job
    Alvin knows the instrument, works fast, and is a terrifically interesting composer as well. He played one of his compositions to test my piano, and I was humming it the rest of the day.
  • Morgan G. Jan 7, 2017
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent service
    A lovely person and musician who made my piano sound wonderful!
  • Michael F. Dec 27, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Piano Tuned, Cleaned and Pedals Fixed
    Fast service, reasonable cost and piano sounds great!
  • Petra K. Dec 20, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    I highly recommend Alvin!
    Alvin was prompt, professional & just as nice as can be. I highly recommend his services. My piano hasn't sounded this rich & warm for years! Thank you, Alvin!
  • Fred R. Dec 19, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    piano tuning
    good job
  • Kate B. Dec 10, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Thank you!
    Alvin was great! My piano was in pretty bad shape - it had not been played in years, I moved it here all the way from Ohio - and now it sounds wonderful!
  • Kalyn B. Nov 14, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    great!
    Great!! Did an great job. Thank you!
  • Anh N. Nov 7, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Piano tuner
    Outstanding job!
  • Arlene S. Oct 31, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    please call for appt.
    Actually, I'd like Mr. Smithson to call me or e-mail me. Please pass it on
    Alvin S. Apr 3, 2017

    Hi Arlene. Funny I saw this. How is the piano?

  • Patrick R. Oct 12, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Very flexible with timing. Did a great job. Thanks Alvin!
  • Roxanne C. Sep 15, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent
  • Kathleen R. Aug 11, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin did a great job! Highly recommend! Thanks!
  • Sarah P. Jul 11, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin was great - professional, timely, and clearly very skilled. The piano sounds amazing. Couldn't be happier!
  • Vince A. Jul 5, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Friendly, proficient, and satisfactory result. Great guy. I would need to see how the job holds up under playing conditions before giving an outstanding rating.
  • Susheela R. Jul 1, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • Huaying J. May 25, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin is wonderful in every aspects. He called before arriving to give me update, spent long time and adjusted the piano three times to bring it alive, also gave advises on other maintainance/repair options.
  • Tina W. May 22, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    I had two pianos that needed tuning. I had to cancel my original appointment due to family emergency, Alvin was very understanding and we rescheduled. Alvin took his time going over my pianos. Alvin was FANTASTIC! What a great guy, ask him to play the piano for you. You will be floored. Can't say enough good things about Alvin.
  • Sergio C. May 20, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Good times, Piano sounds great!
  • Senthil C. May 7, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    We recently bought used piano ,which was not tuned for couple of years. Alvin came on time and tuned our piano. It sounds great now.
  • Audrey L. Apr 29, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • Laura R. Apr 28, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin Smithson is a fine musician who did a great job tuning my old piano. He is personable and professional. Excellent communicator, arrived on time. I would definitely have him tune my piano again, and I hope we can do something musically together!
  • Chris R. Apr 27, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Tuning our baby grand went very well with Alvin's professional service and expertise.
  • Roger H. Apr 23, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin Smithson was top-notch. He was methodical, thorough, and precise in his approach to tuning my piano, besides being a very good pianist and composer in his own right. I feel fortunate to have found him through your on-line service. Roger Brown
  • Anne R. Apr 13, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin was great. I absolutely recommend him.
  • Julianna T. Mar 25, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • Aj O. Mar 23, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin was great. He was punctual, kind, and trustworthy. My piano hadn't been played or tuned in decades, and he was able to delicately and thoroughly get it back into tip-top shape. Would definitely use Alvin again in the future!
  • Richard K. Mar 8, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin tuned my piano with precision and speed. He came to my apartment at the day and time that was convenient for me and brought all of his own tools. He knew the brand of my piano and it's intricacies. I am pressed and strongly recommend him.
  • Michelle L. Mar 3, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Exceptional! A true artist!
  • Danna P. Feb 16, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Alvin was very friendly! He took care to make sure my dampp-chaser was set-up properly and did a fantastic job at tuning the piano.
  • Bonnie S. Feb 4, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Tuning a piano that has been moved and not tuned for years was a labor of love. Alvin's care and consideration was terrific!
  • Anne C. Jan 19, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent job. Very pleasant person.
  • Nancy S. Jan 6, 2016
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    I have a 1925 Knabe Reproducing Ampico Baby Grand piano that hasn't been tuned in at least 30 years. I contacted Alvin Smithson after finding him on Thumbtack. He immediately sent me a quote for tuning and I couldn't be happier with the job he did. He cleaned the inside of the piano and then tuned it. He spent quite a bit of time doing that but charged me just what he quoted me. He then played a piece on the piano that almost made me cry. I haven't heard the piano sound so well in years. He was very professional and yet very personal. Nice man and I would highly recommend him to anyone needing this service.
  • Anais J. Dec 29, 2015
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
  • Kenneth B. Dec 19, 2015
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Mr. Smithson responded promptly and was at my house in thirty minutes. He was cordial, knowledgeable, efficient and thorough. He was cheaper than the other price I had been quoted from another tuner. I was very pleased with his work.
  • James H. Aug 14, 2015
    Piano Tuning
    Verified Review
    Excellent friendly service. Music playing capabilities outstanding!
  • Danielle M. Oct 10, 2014
    Solo Musician Entertainment
    Verified Review
    Alvin was fantastic. I used him for my wedding ceremony to accompany a family friend who plays the trumpet. In the weeks leading up to the event he was responsive and helpful with music suggestions and timing and set a beautiful mood for my outdoor wedding. I would definitely recommend using him.
  • Cecilia L. Sep 21, 2014
    Alvin Smithson is just about the perfect piano teacher for someone like me. When I decided to make use of the venerable Steinway piano in my living room by learning to play it, I was already ten times the age that many consider to be optimal for the beginner, that is about six, and naturally apprehensive about what I was embarking upon. Alvin first made sure that the Steinway was restored to the best sound with his expert tuning. He then took me through all the rudiments and gradually through the more involved exercises, sight reading, as well as improvisations. He is very patient in going over any problems areas, ready to offer encouragement when needed, and, most of all, inspires creativity along with discipline. Alvin is a true expert in performance physiology and makes sure that the fingers are exercised properly based on my own needs. There is an added benefit from that. When I started, I had been troubled by the pain and stiffness of arthritis for a number of years. Since playing the piano, the pain is practically gone and I can move the fingers deftly across the keyboard. I credit Alvin for that, too. I would recommend him as a teacher to anyone.

Q&A

How did you get started doing this type of work?
My mother was a violinist, pianist and singer. When I was 16 I either wanted to be a concert pianist or a basketball player. I chose piano because I could do it forever. I'm still an athlete and consider music and sports to be equally challenging and requires the same amount of mental and physical preparation. I love being involved in musical creation