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#1482622 - 07/27/10 05:39 PM My tuning exam experience
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Any standardized exam will be accompanied by facts, worries, relief, myths, and fiction. This is me, reporting on my own experience - what made me want to take the PTG tuning exam, what made me go through with it, and my feelings afterwards.

This is no promotion of any kind. I do not endorse, neither do I reject. I will only try to picture what it all meant to me.

Comments are, as always, much appreciated.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1482623 - 07/27/10 05:39 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#1

Let me start backwards. What I knew, heard and felt, I now (after passing the exam) feel that I can somewhat justify. Funny how ratings and numbers are needed. This is why there are still classical music competitions on solo instruments. Let that sink in for a while. Why, on earth, if music is all in the eye - or in the sonic world, ear - of the beholder?

Why? Maybe we need to push ourselves to the limit. I've given countless of exams myself. As much as I've questioned them (and prayed not to judge unwisely), I put comfort in the need for anyone of us to repeatedly view ourselves, what we have accomplished, in the light of an objective outer part. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it brings joy. If it's a 'fair trial', it's always for the best.

I started tuning the piano three years ago, out of sheer frustration. I had a solo piano recording session in June 2007, and found the piano badly out of tune. My phone calls confirmed the worst - both the tuners (yes, two of them) within a radius of 100 miles that I could trust tuning for a CD recording where on vacation.

I got angry, and committed myself to not be that helpless in the future. This was the start of my piano tuning experience.

I googled, and came up with The Fischer piano tuning temperament . Needless to say, when I got around the cycle of fifths, the wolf cried out.

Then I ordered the Reblitz book, and learned about contiguous 3rds (from the Potter temperament), and relative beat rates (4:5). I managed to get the thirds (F-A-C#-F-A) somewhat in place, but the rest was trial and error. Mostly error, I'm afraid.

Around the same time, I found Brad Lehmann's web site on tetrasecting any given major third. Since I could get the contiguous M3's in place, this was the key to locking in the 4ths and 5ths 'inside' the M3's.

Suddenly, I could assemble a temperament! I almost didn't dare to reveal my 'home-made' temperament sequence, I thought it was a 2nd rate way of tuning the piano. Months later, I read Bill Bremmer's paper on ET via Marpurg, expressing that very same idea! That made me comfortable enough to go on.

(I still, to this day, tune pure 5ths and 4ths around the contiguous 3rds. I've tried many different temperament settings, but this method gets me to where I like to be very fast.)
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1482662 - 07/27/10 06:34 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: pppat]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3324
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Thanks Patrick, The whole idea for ET via Marpurg came to me one day when I was asked to tune the Marpurg temperament in the shop of a colleague. Knowing that the Marpurg M3s sounded virtually identical to the M3s of true ET, I asked myself, "What if I just continued this process and went back to the intervals that were initially tuned as pure but reconciled them with those that still beat strongly? Would that actually produce an ET?"

In my first trial, I was amazed that it worked! (Or at least it did so apparently). I was thrilled! This was a new idea that people could really use! I knew from past experience in teaching that tuning novices can and do perceive very accurately whether an interval is pure or not and whether any two intervals beat alike with great accuracy.

The small difference of 4:5 ratio of contiguous M3s can also be perceived. It is that 15:16 ratio of chromatic M3s and m3s that is more difficult for novices. (Many thanks to Jeff for identifying what that ratio really is.) Also those small ratio differences in other interval tests such as M3-M6 are not easily learned. How much is too much? How little is too little? I also never depended on the "inside M3, outside M6" test because theoretically, these are not truly equal beating but only quasi equal beating. If, in any of the latter cases, the test proves incorrect, which note do you move to improve it?

All of these details tend to overwhelm a novice tuner and will lead many an ETD user to simply give up and build a defense on the premise that aural tuning is obsolete. My goal for 7 years now has been to educate ETD users (and novices who may tend to quickly take up ETD tuning) that aural tuning perception is still important and it can be easily learned.

The ETD is merely a tool that can act as an extension of the mind. It need not be a crutch upon which one totally and complete depends.
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1482704 - 07/27/10 07:50 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Hi Patrick,

Thanks for taking the time to express your feelings about the exam. I find them very interesting. If you care to share more, please do so?

I know when I took mine, I was literally petrified!!!!!! I didn't think I would make it through the exam without several toilet visits!!! sick I HATE taking tests! Always have, always will. I don't mind giving them though! That's much more fun! grin

Everyone has a certain ability to comprehend things presented to us. We all have opportunities to learn and are given a chance to make assessments and/or sometimes, resentments of what we try to learn. I guess, that's one of the reason's why I remain in PW, to continue learning and to continue helping when I have the time or when I can. I learn something new in here quite often.

For 30 + years, I was an aural tuner. I went to ETD tuning just a few years ago. It didn't take me very long to realize that I find it easy to become dependent upon a "tool" because it makes life easier like any computer would. At the same time however, I also realize the importance of being able to detect the difference when my ETD goes awry like it did yesterday on a Yamaha GH1 B with B-2 as the lowest tenor note.

B-2, C-3 and C-#3 did not agree at ALL with my ear yet, my ETD said, it was set perfectly in tune. The M 3's were nearly pure on all 3 notes. The fifths were wildly sharp. So, I turned the ETD around and tuned those 3 notes strictly by ear using fifths, fourths and octaves instead. It was still a bit difficult because nothing seemed to want to totally agree with the checks and other notes around it around so I had to do a bit of give and take to make it sound acceptable. Some pianos tune this way in certain areas. Some don't. We work around that sort of " frustrated resentment" while tuning.

My point is, without having that ability to hear, who knows what some pianos would really sound like when we are done tuning them?

Then, we have others, like Bill, who take a lot of time and effort out of their busy schedule to try and pass along easier method's of tuning to others. I for one, appreciate those efforts as well as you, taking the time to share yours.

_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1482752 - 07/27/10 09:02 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1766
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Thanks Patrick, I look forward to the next episodes.
Kees

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#1482784 - 07/27/10 09:34 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Jbyron]
Andrew Ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 60
Loc: Missoula Montana
Thank you for taking the time to share with us Patrick!
I'm looking forward to more too!
_________________________
Andrew Ranger
Piano Technician

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#1482971 - 07/28/10 03:42 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Andrew Ranger]
Bojan Babic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Vojvodina, Serbia
Me too.
_________________________
Bojan Babic
piano technician and tuner
Sid, Vojvodina, Serbia
_____________________________
bojanbabic@yahoo.com
www.klaviri.blogspot.com

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#1483020 - 07/28/10 08:07 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Bojan Babic]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Pat:

CONGRADULATIONS!!!

Yes, give us all the gory details! Did you have night sweats the day before? Did any amulets or chants help?

I think the answer is simple. Humans like to compete against each other in hopes of coming out on top, or at least not on the bottom. Tests are a type of competition.

This reminds me of the gag from the movie Caddyshack:

Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?
Ty Webb: Oh, Judge, I don't keep score.
Judge Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?
Ty Webb: By height.

A test can be scary if one is not prepared. The unknown is scary because we can imagine almost anything to “fill in the blanks”.

My own PTG exam was kind of humdrum, but then it was the old exam before ETDs. I still wonder about it sometimes. Like, (believe it or not) I had never adjusted any part of a grand action. But I had prepared and knew what to do. There was no problem or comment made.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1483038 - 07/28/10 08:49 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3324
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Hi Patrick,

B-2, C-3 and C-#3 did not agree at ALL with my ear yet, my ETD said, it was set perfectly in tune. The M 3's were nearly pure on all 3 notes. The fifths were wildly sharp. So, I turned the ETD around and tuned those 3 notes strictly by ear using fifths, fourths and octaves instead. It was still a bit difficult because nothing seemed to want to totally agree with the checks and other notes around it around so I had to do a bit of give and take to make it sound acceptable. Some pianos tune this way in certain areas. Some don't. We work around that sort of " frustrated resentment" while tuning.

My point is, without having that ability to hear, who knows what some pianos would really sound like when we are done tuning them?


Jer,

You had written to me about this privately but I had not had time yet to respond to it, so I am glad you wrote about it here. What you encountered is no surprise to me. Any smallish grand or vertical with plain wire down to B2 will exhibit this problem.

What the piano really needs are a few wound strings in the low tenor. Better yet, just a longer Bass bridge. Even better is what Del Fandrich does and that is to create a small, separate low Tenor bridge that is tied to the Bass bridge with wound strings. He did this with the small, Walter grand. It has the smoothest break of any grand its size on the market.

Even such a supposed high quality grand as the Steinway L or O has this problem. The B2 is difficult to tune and will go sharp or flat with each passing cloud in the sky. That is what dismayed me about the "new" Steinway model O. They kept the same scale design!

You are right about those few notes on any grand made like this needing to be tuned aurally. The octave needs a little extra width in it to accommodate the 4th, 5th, m3 and M3 above it. The ETD program can only make an assumption about the pitch. It doesn't know whether there are wound strings there or not.

Curiously, I have found that the B2 needs to actually be set higher than a calculated program would put it in order for the octave to be wider. I believe long ago, Jim Coleman, Sr. had identified this as "negative inharmonicity" but that discussion is buried some 10 years ago on Pianotech.

Whatever the reason is, to get those notes in tune, you have to know how to tune them by ear. It hardly matters though because as soon as the humidity changes by the slightest amount, those notes will go out of tune. mad

I seem to have persuaded yet another person who wrote to the exam administration committee asking for the aural tuning requirement to be repealed to give it another try. I told him there was no possibility of that happening but I did have a strategy for learning to tune those two octaves by ear that he would be able to handle and from which he would also develop some aural tuning perception. He has accepted the personal challenge and is working on it!

I've had a few people who have absolutely refused to try to learn aural tuning and simply want to continue to claim that the requirement is unfair and unnecessary. 14 year olds often have that attitude about taking Algebra in middle school. They don't realize that everyone uses those concepts at one time or another in life experience. Dozens of others have however taken an interest in the new strategy and are working on it.

Patrick is the first person I know of to use it to take and pass an exam at the convention. Thanks Patrick and congratulations!
_________________________
Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1483068 - 07/28/10 09:43 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: pppat]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1344
Loc: Michigan
Patrick,
Have you also taken the technical exam? I am particularly interested in people's comments about the technical.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1483073 - 07/28/10 09:55 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: kpembrook]
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
Congratulations, Patrick.
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#1483075 - 07/28/10 09:58 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: kpembrook]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1744
Loc: Colorado
Hi Patrick,
Thanks again for starting the thread. I find it particularly pertinent.

What were some of the details surrounding the tuning exam itself? For examplet, time limits, what was required first, were you checked as you tuned or was the assessment done after you set the bearings? Did you tune all 88 notes, then get checked, etc?

How was the written piece constructed? How much tuning theory, piano design, troubleshooting? Were there questions about grand piano vs upgright, etc?

I just initiated the process of becoming an associate member of the PTG and should be receiving correspondence from the local chapter any day now to get things rolling.

Glen
_________________________

A Bit of YouTube
PTG Associate Member

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#1483088 - 07/28/10 10:17 AM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT
.....

The small difference of 4:5 ratio of contiguous M3s can also be perceived. It is that 15:16 ratio of chromatic M3s and m3s that is more difficult for novices. (Many thanks to Jeff for identifying what that ratio really is.) Also those small ratio differences in other interval tests such as M3-M6 are not easily learned. How much is too much? How little is too little? I also never depended on the "inside M3, outside M6" test because theoretically, these are not truly equal beating but only quasi equal beating. If, in any of the latter cases, the test proves incorrect, which note do you move to improve it?

.....


Thanks for the credit, but it was not necessary. The 15:16 ratio (and others) can be determined from any beatrate chart.

Yes, there is no end to finding more and more difficult tests, just an end to the tuner’s ability to satisfy them on a particular piano in a practical manner.

And yes, the inside outside test is theoretically quasi equal beating. But since the difference is so very small (1.02:1 instead of 1:1 !!!) it might as well be equal beating for any aural tuning sequence.

But you make a very good point about which note to move. Since this test only appears later in a sequence, the answer is: “usually more than one.” It is a very discerning test and will turn up slight accumulative errors that other tests will not point out. The place to look is an imbalance between the tempering of the fourths compared to the tempering of the fifths. The M3 is formed from two fourths and two fifths. The M6 is formed from only one fourth and two fifths.

And in case anyone wonders, there is only one situation that I have found where this test is not valid due to iH: when the M6 spans a scaling break and the M3 does not (in which case the M6 should beat faster than the M3). But then this can be a problem for any test.

And I also understand the value of “studying to the exam”. But that does not mean that finer techniques should not be mastered after an exam is passed.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

Top
#1483527 - 07/28/10 11:05 PM Re: My tuning exam experience [Re: UnrightTooner]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Wow, all - thank you so much for your comments, questions and interest in this!

@Keith: No, I haven't taken the technical exam yet, but I'm planning to do so within the next year. Either this fall, or at next year's convention!

Glen: I will get to my reflections on both the written exam and the tuning exam soon smile
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

Top
#1483534 - 07/28/10 11:09 PM My tuning exam experience, #2 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#2

In the summer of 2008 i found this forum, and registered as a member. This has, without doubt, been the most important part in my learning process. It is an understatement to say that people here helped me out - they (you) carried me on, appearently never getting tired of my questions.

BDB supported me in using my temperament sequence and logical "locking in" of the 4ths and 5ths. Jeff patiently gave me hints on checks for my intervals, giving me relief in not having to rely solely on "what sounds good" but also being able to do tests, compare and combine emotional judgement with a logical one. Jerry helped me particularly in the use of strip mutes the whole piano (verticals in particular, with their tricky dampers so close to the hammers), which is not that common over here.

There is somewhat of an equal sign between Bill and EBVT III nowadays, but for my whole first year here Bill helped with everything except EBVT III! See, my need for help was with overall tuning, and I got wonderful help from Bill. Stretching, hammer technique, speed tuning, "rather tune the piano twice than fight it once".

[We all take rather firm standpoints in the heat of the moment, when there is a lot of energy in the discussion in the forum. Things tend to become more black-and-white than the poster and the reader even necessarily intended them to be. We also subconsciously label posters as "this" and "that" kind of posters, but to my great joy I have many times been really surprised, in a pleasant way, by the diversity in this community and of the great overall skills that many eagerly share.]

After my 2nd year of tuning I felt comfortable enough to make a rather bold request to my employee: I'd reduce my teaching at the conservatory, and thus free up hours for piano tuning and maintenance. there had been no regularly piano tech hired by the conservatory for over 10 (!) years, only tuners coming in tuning and then leave, a few times during the academic year, resulting in a piano stock that was pretty out of shape and a disgrace for a conservatory boasting high-level education.

The piano stock isn't overwhelming, but it was still a good move and a great opportunity to practice on different, mostly high-quality instruments (24 grands and 15 uprights).

My tunings at the conservatory can not have been that bad (…well, some of them where, but I corrected them as fast as I could smile ) because just before Christmas I got asked for my first classical concert tuning, which I've been doing quite a lot of ever since. The full-length grands, especially the Steinway D at our concert hall, gave me some problems in the beginning - there were just so much sound, frequencies, beat rates aso. coming out of the piano that I could easily just sat there for those hours listening, checking and making tiny corrections. By tuning the S&S D I also learned a lot of stability, being used mainly to Yamahas and some Bösendorfers before.

Some time late that Fall, I decided that I needed a challenge to keep developing. Two things happened: I did my first inquiries about the PTG exam, and I took up EBVT III.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

Top
#1483762 - 07/29/10 11:30 AM Re: My tuning exam experience, #2 [Re: pppat]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1744
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: pppat
Wow, all - thank you so much for your comments, questions and interest in this!

@Keith: No, I haven't taken the technical exam yet, but I'm planning to do so within the next year. Either this fall, or at next year's convention!

Glen: I will get to my reflections on both the written exam and the tuning exam soon smile


Thanks, Patrick,

Oh, for some reason, I was under the impression the tuning and technical exam had to be done at one time, but you are saying you can take one part one year, then the other the next year.

Glen
_________________________

A Bit of YouTube
PTG Associate Member

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#1483783 - 07/29/10 12:10 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #2 [Re: Inlanding]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4234
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Once you start the process I believe you have to complete all of the exams within a 4 year time period.
Failing this I believe you have to begin again from scratch.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1483787 - 07/29/10 12:14 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #2 [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1744
Loc: Colorado
Thanks, Dan
_________________________

A Bit of YouTube
PTG Associate Member

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#1484060 - 07/29/10 06:51 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #2 [Re: Inlanding]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
@Dan and Glen: Yes, this is what I was told on-site!
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

Top
#1484065 - 07/29/10 06:58 PM My tuning exam experience, #3 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#3

In my 2nd post here, I mentioned that I wanted to challenge myself in two ways - I got interested in the PTG exam, and I started to learn how to tune EBVT III. Honoring the subject of this thread, I will stay out of the discussion of different temperaments. Still, I'd like to mention that I think my ET improved by my interest in alternate tunings.

[Very much in line with my life as a whole. I have never been able to zero in on something particular, because I really dislike shutting other possibilities out. This trait of character is, without doubt, looked upon as a flaw by many people. I myself have been pondering this for many years, and I've even deliberately tried to change - being mature and all… wink But as soon as the rational part of me has convinced me to focus on refining what I'm really good at, my curiousness gets the better of me. I'm slowly learning to consider it a blessing, not a curse.]

Anyways, back to the tuning exam… I signed up for the Las Vegas PTG convention - my employee backed me up financially (saw my dedication and my learning opportunities, and decided that it was well worth it - *thank you, Novia*).

When I boarded the 18 hrs trip to Vegas, I did it as a brand new associate member of PTG, looking forward to a week of learning and socializing. I wasn't sure about the tuning exam, though. Or… let me rephrase… I felt ready for the exam itself, but I hesitated because of two things: 1) the written exam, and 2) trading in a comfortable semi-vacation for the challenge of putting myself on the edge.

As for the written exam, I felt that my English and my tuning theory was good enough to pass. Regarding the technical aspects of the piano, however, my margin of error was (and is) much smaller. This simply because I am a much better tuner than technician (working on that…).

Given the language barrier, anything might cause problems - especially as the written test is multiple answers, or true/false. I felt that I could 'decode' the questions in the field I'm more comfortable with. The scenario of having to deal with ambiguity, cleverly 'tweaked' answer alternatives, and a less known technical field/terms scared me.

In regards of a laid back stay in Vegas, I knew I didn't have a chance - me being my own judge. Yes, it would have been much easier hanging around. Still, I had this opportunity in front of me, and I would never have forgot myself for chickening out.

So arriving wednesday afternoon June 23, without knowing if I still had a chance to do so, I decided to step up to the PTG office the next day to ask if I could take the tuning exam.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484080 - 07/29/10 07:24 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#4

Thursday morning, June 24, I met with some very kind, helpful people at the registration desk. I stated that I'd like to take the tuning exam, where there any slots still open.

An hour later I got a call from the person in charge of the tuning exams. On this followed a personal interview, which turned out to be a pretty relaxed conversation.

- Has anybody pre-screened you?
- Well, uhm, no.
- Could you name an RPT that would vouch for you?
- Yes.
- Sounds good. Still, would you mind sitting down with me at the piano, for verification?
- Not at all, I'd be glad to.

Half an hour later I was good for a slot on Monday, June 27. A few hours after the interview, I understood why there is a need for pre-screening. This all became very clear when I sat in on one of the master tunings.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484133 - 07/29/10 09:02 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #5 and 6 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#5

It spanned most of the day, yes, but that's just the way it turned out. It started at 1 PM, and about 6 hours later I had a quick shower and headed for the ballroom reception.

The master tuning was a new experience to me, but still the spirit in the room was familiar. A group of people, doing their very best, without considering arbitrariness even an option. Set place, set team - deliver.

I was, and I still am, impressed by the care and devotion put into the master tuning I witnessed. I saw a trusted group of people do their very best to rule out any luck, failure, and subjectivity on the examinee's part.

- Why three of you? I asked the certified tuning examiner (CTE)
- Because most of the time, you'd want verification, and no matter how good you are, your everyday luxury tuning session would - if possible - include a 2nd and a 3rd opinion. Here we have that, and we benefit from it.

Contemplating that, saving any performance anxiety for the written exam, I took a needed weekend break.

#6

The day before the written exam (saturday, July 26), I took the written exam prep course at the convention. I'm very glad I did so. There was not really much new information, but I got a hunch for how the written test was composed. I also witnessed the lecturer get lost in his passion about the subject, and only get half-way through the study guide in the 90 minutes he had to his disposal. In a perfect world I'd have him start from the last page, backing up (because the first pages where tuning-related things). Still, I loved his dedication.

Oh, and did I mention that Jim Coleman Sr. was everywhere? Sitting in on the master tuning, at the receptions, in the exhibit hall, giving master classes… he is certainly alive and kicking smile. He also gave me a precious advice regarding the tuning exam: "Don't try anything new".

I really carried that with me. I recieved a wealth of information at the convention, during the days before my tuning exam. Many do's and dont's. Jim's experienced advice kept me focused.


Edited by pppat (07/30/10 12:48 AM)
Edit Reason: addition of #6
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484138 - 07/29/10 09:14 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: pppat]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1766
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Pat, did they tell you what the required octave stretch was? (Apart from octave 7 which has to be 2:1.) I mean the difference between stretch of Cordier tuning and say 4:1 octaves is something like 63 cents on the upper note.
I know there is a 6 cent tolerance which is not much. The difference between 2:1 and 4:2 octaves is already more than that on a typical Steinway.

Kees

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#1484143 - 07/29/10 09:22 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: DoelKees]
Inlanding Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1744
Loc: Colorado
Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences, Patrick. Nicely put. All of it!

Glen
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#1484168 - 07/29/10 09:57 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: DoelKees]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Originally Posted By: Inlanding
Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences, Patrick. Nicely put. All of it!

Glen


Thanks, Glen smile

Originally Posted By: DoelKees
Pat, did they tell you what the required octave stretch was? (Apart from octave 7 which has to be 2:1.) I mean the difference between stretch of Cordier tuning and say 4:1 octaves is something like 63 cents on the upper note.
I know there is a 6 cent tolerance which is not much. The difference between 2:1 and 4:2 octaves is already more than that on a typical Steinway.

Kees


Kees,

no, they didn't really. But what I can tell you is that the master tuning sounded in tune, albeit a bit conservatively held - which undoubtedly served the purpose. It was symmetrical, as in sticking to progressive beat rates up (4:2, 4:2+ -> 2:1), and down (practically 6:3's to the bottom). This is not the way I would necessarily tune a piano, and I dare to stick my neck out and suggest that the CTE/RPT's would tune differently, too. Their personal tunings would, however, differ from a mean, and I honestly think that the master tuning sought that very mean to personalize from.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484218 - 07/29/10 10:56 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #7 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#7

Sunday, the day of the written exam. Simple setup - multiple choice, or true/false. Five sections - tuning, grand regulation, vertical regulation, repairs and voicing, general information. Each section 20 pts, totaling 100 max, 80 pts needed to pass.

There are quite a few different question, but - as far as I remember - if you've read the Reblitz book, you could ace the test.

[Fact is (off record), I think the written test is based on the Reblitz book. Even the divisions of the test itself bear resemblance to the chapter division of the book. By reading Reblitz book and implementing it, I believe it's fully possible to score 100/100 - at least in the test I took (I think there are a few different ones used by PTG, but I would assume that the source of reference have stayed the same)]

A word of advice here: check, double-check and triple-check that your bullet-proof answers are really answering the question.

In any fast-evaluated test - compensating for its non-essay nature - there will be embedded pitfalls, especially so in the multiple choices. I lost some points because I didn't know the answer, some because of terminology, even some because of differences in established practice between Europe and the United States. Those I don't mind. The ones that bug me are those that I knew the answer to, but where I got lost in the heat of the moment, in short-sightedness.

If I could go back through the written test once more, I would make sure that I answered the questions asked. Simple as that. Doing so, I would have scored even higher. Still, after 90 minutes of thrilling anxiety, I found myself passing well above the 80 pts dividing line - good to take the tuning exam the following day.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484230 - 07/29/10 11:11 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: pppat]
DoelKees Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1766
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Originally Posted By: pppat
#7

I remember reading somewhere there is a question about the difference between a frequency and a beat rate which you are supposed to answer wrong. The correct answer (which is marked as wrong) is there is no difference, both are measured in Hz which has SI units of 1/seconds. A beat rate is just a frequency which is small.

Kees

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#1484237 - 07/29/10 11:25 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #4 [Re: DoelKees]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
Kees,

I've heard similar stories, but in my test it was a true/false question st like "cents are the same as beats". Which shouldn't bring on too much problems wink
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484238 - 07/29/10 11:28 PM Re: My tuning exam experience, #8 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#8

Tuning exam day! The exclamation mark is describing what I felt. New day, new possibilities. The worst was over, there was only up from here smile

It might sound strange, but this was exactly what it felt like. Passing the written exam, I was back on my home field, tuning the piano. I met the CTE in charge of the tuning exams right before, and she asked me if I was nervous. "A little bit, of course, but I really look forward to taking the test".

As I arrived at the tuning exam office, there was a delay. That gave me a chance to see examiners and examinees entering/exiting exam rooms and walking the corridors. Maybe my music studies and my work as a professor has brainwashed me, but I felt at home, at ease - with that necessary nerve still stirring in my body.

Then I was up. Into my exam room entered not only the needed minimum of 1 CTE + RPT's, but 3 CTE's. I knew I was in for an exciting afternoon!

Introductions, form fillings, then releasing of all possible electronic devices. My Nokia (yes, I'm a finnish guy) secured in the pocket of the CTE in charge, the test could begin.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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#1484280 - 07/30/10 12:43 AM Re: My tuning exam experience, #9 [Re: pppat]
pppat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/08
Posts: 1195
Loc: Jakobstad, Finland
#9

First part of the tuning exam.
Task: setting A4 to the fork (or any other alternate non-visual pitch source).


I do this every day in real life, but it was different doing it when you knew it would be measured afterwards.

Hours before, I dropped by the Sanderson booth in the exhibit hall. He kindly measured my 2nd fork (the one that I do not use that much, as 442 Hz is a more common pitch source in Europe). It was 440, dead on. The whole convention taking place indoors with similar A/C, i knew I could trust my fork for the job of setting the initial A4.

What I was only partially prepared for was the pinblock of the grand piano. And no, this was not the instrument I witnessed getting a master tuning… smile

Still it was the same kind of brand new piano, with a very tight block. I set my A4, just to feel it swaying around. Then I did what I had to do, and raised the pitch way over (making sure the pin moved), then slightly below, then slightly up again, finally setting the pin whit a slight downward motion, to where I liked it. All of this first comparing F2 to the fork (adjusting F2 for a beat pulse I liked rhythmically), then tuning A4 to F2 for that same pulse.

I took my time. You are given 5 minutes, and I think I almost used it all. It might seem like a waste of time, but after those minutes I had a much better feel for the pinblock. And the pitch of my A4 scored 100 pts.
_________________________
Patrick Wingren, RPT

Senior Lecturer (jazz piano, composition, music theory, conducting) @ Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad, Finland
- - - -
Dedicated to learning the craft of tuning. Getting better.

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