1. How often should my piano be tuned?
A. Ultimately, this is up to you. Please read the section of my
article on COMPLETE PIANO CARE, entitled, Tuning for more information.
2. Are you a “certified” or “licensed” technician?
There are no requirements by or tests administered by either state
or local governments to certify or license piano technicians. The
only “governing” body currently in existence which sets minimum
qualifications for piano technicians is the Piano Technicians Guild,
which administers a series of three exams designed to evaluate the
competency level of someone who advertises themselves as a “Piano
Technician”. One who takes and passes all three exams with a minimum
score of 80% qualifies to upgrade to the status of Registered Piano
Technician or RPT. Membership in the PTG, as well as being subjected
to these exams is entirely voluntary. I have been a member of the
PTG since 1997. In 2003, I completed the series of exams which certify
me as a Registered Piano Technician.
However, no matter the level of testing a technician has passed,
the true measure of competency of a piano technician can be found
in the customer satisfaction level of his or her clientele and the
reputation he or she enjoys among their peers.
3. How much do you charge?
My fees are in line with those of other Registered Piano Technicians
and other similarly skilled professionals in the area. It would
not be possible to give an exact quote of fees either on a web site
or over the phone until I can actually assess the needs of your
piano in person, and any other technician who claims to be able
to do so may be neglecting an area of service that your piano may
require. I do offer a discount for customers with multiple pianos
at one location, such as churches or schools, because of the time
saved not having to drive between appointments, which allows me
to get more work finished in a day.
4. Can I learn to tune my own piano?
A. Possibility. But remember that before piano technicians and
tuners offer their highly specialized skills to the public, they
spend literally hundreds and thousands of hours developing the different
aspects of the skill, which involves not merely pitch recognition,
but a general understanding of the physics of musical pitch and
the development of tuning pin manipulation techniques. This is not
a musical skill as much as a scientific one which requires excellent
motor skill coordination. It is generally not worth the time investment
necessary just to be able to keep your own piano in tune.
5. Where do you learn to tune pianos? Are you taking on apprentices?
A. There is a real need for the right type of person in this trade.
There are a number of schools, correspondence courses, and apprenticeship
situations where someone can learn this trade properly. Generally,
schools which teach courses in piano technology, offer full time
one and two year courses, are relatively expensive, and require
relocation. Correspondence courses are a good bit less expensive,
and allow the freedom of progressing at your own rate in the time
you have available to devote to it. But it is suggested you work
with a “mentor” while taking the courses.
Before jumping in, I suggest talking seriously to a piano technician
to get a feel for the types of skills and personality required by
the trade to become successful. You might also either purchase or
check out some books from the library on the subject. Also, the
Occupational Outlook Handbook, also found online at the Bureau of
Labor Statistics web site, has some general information on Musical
Instrument Tuners and Repairers.
If you develop an interest in the trade before you enter college,
you might seek out colleges which hire student assistants in the
area of piano maintenance. In some situations, the piano technician
on staff will take time to train over a four year period one or
two students at the time to learn a good deal of tuning and repair
and other maintenance tasks. It is a valuable learning experience,
but expect to spend at least four years, as it is a very slow pace
due to time constraints.
I am not currently taking on apprentices. I do have one student
assistant at the university and hope that the frail state budget
of South Carolina will continue to allow for this assistantship
to continue into the future. I might be willing, however, to serve
as a “mentor” for someone who chooses to take one of the popular
4. I bet you play the piano. Do you have to play the piano to
be a piano technician?
I am a hacker. I understand music theory, I have a very good ear
and can generally pick out a decent rendition of a number of tunes
on the piano. I also read music. I studied voice and can play a
number of other instruments by reading music. But I never developed
the discipline necessary for reading music and playing multiple
notes on the piano simultaneously.
Neither does one need to be a pianist to become a piano technician.
A general knowledge of the keyboard and music theory are helpful,
but nothing which can’t be learned while learning the trade. What
is necessary is an appreciation for all genres of music and certainly
an affinity for the piano.
Please call (912) 278-8911
in Georgia or South Carolina to schedule an appointment.