The willingness and involvement in education and continuing education in any field of endeavor shows a commitment to progress and grow within that field and is vital to ensure one is performing at a high level of proficiency.
When I decided to become a Piano Technician, I researched schools that offered that training so I could be as competent as possible in my new career of choice. Many that get into this industry consider short-cuts such as:
A) Buying a tuning machine (not that it does a competent job on pianos, it doesn’t) and a book and after awhile when they feel they have some sort of handle on it, declare themselves a Piano Tuner and go into business.
B) Find some local tuner that was willing to take them on as a free working employee temporarily in trade for some training. At least enough training to get them started, paying no attention to whether the tuner had any credentials or not. The only concern was that he had a business and was making money so they could do the same.
But, that is exactly what happens with around 50% of the tuners you can hire to tune your piano. When they feel they have some sort of handle on it, at least enough to make some money with it, they stop learning and do not seek out any new knowledge. This is part of the reason so many tuners are less than competent. Piano Tuning and repairing is an unregulated industry. All education and training is completely voluntary!
I attended Perkins School of Piano Technology in Elyria, Ohio (no longer exists). After I graduated I felt I needed more training so I found a Registered Piano Tuner that serviced Pianos at a University with highly qualified musicains as the faculty. I went to work for him and apprenticed with him, continuing my training for 3 more years. I also, joined the Piano Technicians Guild of America. An organization devoted to standardizing skills for Piano Technicians and for providing continuing education. The PTG offers national conventions every year that are mainly education based. Classes are held all day long for a week in dozens of different piano technology topics and were instructed by some of the most qualified Piano Technicians in the country. Also, state seminars were held once or twice a year with education as the main focus and local chapters set up by municipality or region have monthly meetings where at least part of the meeting is devoted to education and training.
My education and training involves:
- Graduated from a specialized school for Piano Technology
- Apprenticed with a qualified professional Piano Tuner-Technician that serviced Pianos for highly qualified musicians
- Became a member of the top national industry organization in the country that is primarily devoted to training
- Attends classes several times a year for continuing education
- Attended the Yamaha Corporation Piano Technology School
I feel that continuing education and training are a life-time endeavor, that is why I will continue to study and learn.
(John pictured at the Yamaha Corporation's
Piano Technology School in Los Angeles, California)
Committed to Excellence
- I have been tested on a national basis and passed the testing at the highest level possible. This level is known as the “Certified Tuner Examiner” (CTE) and is the highest level in which a tuner can be placed through the national testing procedure. The testing is done by the Piano Technicians Guild of America and the test is standardized for the entire country. The level below this is the “Registered Piano Tuner” (RPT) level and is the category most professional, authorized tuners fall into from their test results. If they did not pass the test or have not taken the exam yet, they can still be a member of the Guild as an “Associate Member”. One of the developers of the standardized test, Dr. Albert Sanderson, stated that statistically it is ten times more difficult to pass the tuning exam at the CTE level than the standard Registered Tuner level. Passing at the CTE level shows a very high level of skill and a true commitment to excellence. It is estimated that in the State of Ohio, there have been only between 10 to 15 Piano Tuners that have passed the test at the CTE level.
- I spend approximately 2 hours of tuning time on every piano I tune. Most professional tuners will give you a 45 minute tuning, a few will give you an hour. I have heard of some non-registered-untested tuners that spend 30 minutes or less! My approach to tuning a piano is that “ the piano tuning is finished when the piano is in tune” and my definition of “in tune” is directly tied to the Certified Tuner Examiner standards that are mentioned above, not some compromising standard that allows the tuner to sneak out the door after 45 minutes. After all, the national tuning exam that is mentioned above gives the tuner 90 minutes to tune the piano (setting the pitch for all 88 notes) and another 30 minutes to tune in the unisons (most notes have 2 or 3 strings to tune), making it a total of 2 hours for the tuning. I approach every piano that I tune with the same respect and commitment to quality that is needed to score at the highest level in the national testing procedure. Whether it is a concert grand piano in a concert hall, or a privately owned spinet piano in a customer’s living room, I do my best tuning every time.
The two facts below combined give me the confidence to state that I am offering the very highest level of tuning available anywhere in the county.
1) The results of my national tuning exam that tests note placement precision within the exam time limitation (and directly compares those skills to every other professional tuner in the country).
2) The time commitment I make on each piano tuning to duplicate the quality of my testing results on every piano I tune.