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#2045481 - 03/09/13 11:35 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6090
Loc: Rochester MN
Oh Paaa-leeze!

Preference is not prejudice. I prefer cherry pie. Does that mean that I hold prejudice against blueberry? You are pushing this past the bounds of reality.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2045545 - 03/09/13 03:20 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1463
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Marty,
I am most definitely not pushing this "past the bounds of reality". I am trying to be civil and fair minded while adding something to the conversation that I felt needed to be there. No more, no less. I hope everyone else attempts the same in all their personal interactions. Cheers!
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2045615 - 03/09/13 06:07 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
AJF Offline
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Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1530
Loc: Toronto
To the best of my knowledge my tuner doesn't play with any level of proficiency. Yet he was a final voicer for Bosendorfer in Vienna for 11 years and Oscar Peterson's last regular tuner. I could care less if he knows how to play fur Elise or Claire de lune. What matters to me is that when I sit down and play my instrument after it's been tuned, voiced and regulated it sounds perfect and stays that way for several months.

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#2045973 - 03/10/13 02:46 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Norbert Online   content
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Registered: 07/03/01
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I thought this was an interesting subject and contacted the Osar Walcker School in Ludwigsburg Germany.

This is the school where German graduated "piano builder" journeymen return to study for their "Meister" degree, 2 years

Oscar-Walcker-Schule wrote this:

Quote:
"Das ist eine alte, generelle Frage im Instrumentenbau. In der Regel sollte der Erbauer sein Instrument beherrschen, um es selbst beurteilen zu können. Aber in unseren heutigen indutriellen Großbetrieben kann man sicher auch Instrumente (mit-)bauen, ohne sie spielen zu müssen.... diese Frage wird sicher jeder für sich individuell beantworten müssen..."


Translation:

"This is an old question for instrument makers. Ideally the builder/maker should master the instrument to be able to judge things him/herself. However, in today's industrial manufacturing plants one can certainly also make or "co-manufacture" instruments without having to play.....the question needs to ba answered by everyone him/herself."

Of note is that German piano builders are not automatically being trained to become top tuners, i.e. "concert technicians" but rather makers of the instrument.

I thought this was an interesting input from elsewhere....

Norbert smile
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#2046148 - 03/10/13 08:11 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4393
Loc: San Jose, CA
I don't think I can answer the OP's question, because as far as I can think, I don't know any piano techs who don't also play, at least some. Some are wonderful players. It reminds me of one of those binary star systems: two suns, orbiting each other. You would think it would be rare, but just this morning the Science channel said that it is an arrangement that is actually observed very often.

You would think the two skills sets need not concur, each being an art and science sufficient unto itself (and sufficiently difficult to acquire). If I were a young fellow, I might devote myself to both, but as it is, I have to work about as hard as I can just on playing. So I'm happy to let my tech use his hard-gained technical knowledge to keep me going. (He's one of those techs who plays like a pro. The brilliance of a double-star--- a good thing, because my music room is dark as a mine.)
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#2046178 - 03/10/13 09:10 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8072
Loc: Georgia, USA
Seems like the opinions here keep going around in circles… in my mind, I wouldn’t think the ability to play the piano is an absolute prerequisite or necessity to become an excellent tuner.

Any tuner would have to be able to play the notes/intervals/chords to some extent in order to tell if the piano is in tune.

Something that surprised me a while back was the fact that our own Steve Cohen does not play the piano… yet he is a highly successful piano dealer/industry consultant. smile

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2046183 - 03/10/13 09:19 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
j&j Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 438
Loc: Southwest
My RPT can play, but it's his ear and years of professional tuning, voicing, and regulating I pay for. I selected him because he 's done concert tunings and has been trained on S&S and Yamaha......and he's punctual, reliable, honest and very helpful. He knows the voice and sound I'm looking for and knows the acoustics of my great room.

What more could I want?
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Yahama C3 PE
Casio Privia PX-330
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#2046188 - 03/10/13 09:24 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: j&j]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 201
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: j&j
My RPT can play, but it's his ear and years of professional tuning, voicing, and regulating I pay for. I selected him because he 's done concert tunings and has been trained on S&S and Yamaha......and he's punctual, reliable, honest and very helpful. He knows the voice and sound I'm looking for and knows the acoustics of my great room.

What more could I want?


I just smiled when I read this. The tuner that just came to tune my piano, the first complimentary tuning, was a half hour early! It was awesome! The one I had for my other piano was about that late... but, I am slightly south and understand Boston traffic too well! I commuted to NU for the past three years. Not always fun.

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#2046193 - 03/10/13 09:32 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
beethoven986 Offline
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Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
I know some techs who show up two hours late.... small wonder they still have clients. That said, stuff happens, and it can be difficult to stay on schedule if you're visiting four or five different pianos in a day.
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#2046208 - 03/10/13 10:14 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: beethoven986]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 201
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I know some techs who show up two hours late.... small wonder they still have clients. That said, stuff happens, and it can be difficult to stay on schedule if you're visiting four or five different pianos in a day.


Yes, as they say, @#$% happens. But a two hour late appt. does warrant a call, or marked discount? Maybe?

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#2046239 - 03/10/13 10:56 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: HalfStep]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
Originally Posted By: HalfStep
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I know some techs who show up two hours late.... small wonder they still have clients. That said, stuff happens, and it can be difficult to stay on schedule if you're visiting four or five different pianos in a day.


Yes, as they say, @#$% happens. But a two hour late appt. does warrant a call, or marked discount? Maybe?


A call? Definitely. If I expect to be running more than 10-15 minutes late, I call and apologize. Discounts... unlikely.
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#2046255 - 03/10/13 11:24 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: beethoven986]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 201
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: HalfStep
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I know some techs who show up two hours late.... small wonder they still have clients. That said, stuff happens, and it can be difficult to stay on schedule if you're visiting four or five different pianos in a day.


Yes, as they say, @#$% happens. But a two hour late appt. does warrant a call, or marked discount? Maybe?


A call? Definitely. If I expect to be running more than 10-15 minutes late, I call and apologize. Discounts... unlikely.


Okay! No discounts, but I would appreciate a call

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#2046287 - 03/11/13 01:06 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: HalfStep]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
Originally Posted By: HalfStep
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: HalfStep
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
I know some techs who show up two hours late.... small wonder they still have clients. That said, stuff happens, and it can be difficult to stay on schedule if you're visiting four or five different pianos in a day.


Yes, as they say, @#$% happens. But a two hour late appt. does warrant a call, or marked discount? Maybe?


A call? Definitely. If I expect to be running more than 10-15 minutes late, I call and apologize. Discounts... unlikely.


Okay! No discounts, but I would appreciate a call


I think anyone would; it's common courtesy. Unfortunately, technicians aren't always good at PR skills (and I'm certainly guilty of this to an extent, sometimes). Fortunately, technology is making it a lot easier to plan our days than even five years ago.
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#2046319 - 03/11/13 02:39 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
OperaTenor Offline
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Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2371
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Put me in the same camp with Bob. I can play a few pieces well enough, but I'm not a proficient pianist (I play mostly Scott Joplin). When I tune, I play a few pieces in different keys as a final once-over at the very end. It doesn't necessarily make be a better tuner/technician; it just gives me a different perspective.

Also, as Rich said, one doesn't necessarily have to be a pianist to be musical. My musical forte is singing; I'm a professional opera singer. I'm fairly certain the musicality that comes along with that is what makes me a better tuner/technician, including the areas of voicing and regulation, even though I'm a mediocre pianist.

One thing about regulation: Achieving the optimal performance and responsiveness from an action is more technical expertise than musicianship; knowing the proper specifications and applying the proper adjustments, and understanding what physically takes place when the key is depressed - and how it should feel, count more than being a player.

As far as reciprocity between players and tuners is concerned, I can't tell you how many times otherwise excellent pianists were unable to communicate what was wrong with their piano because they understood almost nothing about how it worked. Do I gripe about their lack of technical knowledge? No, I try to help them understand their instrument a little better (if they're open to it), and do my best to make them happy with their piano.
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#2047170 - 03/12/13 06:16 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Its certainly a very interesting question/discussion!

It would seem to me that learning to play half decently would be a pretty good way for a tuner/tech to learn to hear and feel whats going on in the instrument, and the development of control would certainly be useful. I'm not sure its the only way, or even a particularly efficient way though. I can imagine that with the same amount of time/effort devoted to direct learning of how things should feel and sound as one would spend becoming competent at playing, a tuner/tech could be at least as good if not better at his/her craft.

I can certainly see why many tuners/techs would be inspired to learn to play (or have been inspired by playing to learn to tune), and why some customers would enjoy hearing their tuner play. I also think the point made about intimidation is interesting/important. I can see it coming across as, "here's how good your piano should sound if you play it right." I can imagine offering to let the customer play first would reinforce the "I'm hear to make you sound your best" relationship, and then offering to play something if they are shy or would rather just focus on listening. "Aw, what a nice/thoughtful/talented guy/gal." wink

I see an interesting parallel to the engineering world here. There is a constant debate over "reference designs", ie designing a sample end product to show off the part you actually specialize in to potential customers. For some customers this is a great way to seal the deal by demonstrating real world performance, for others its a big put off. Its perceived as "here let me show you how to do your job so you don't screw up our nice part." Interestingly its usually the more competent customers who have the later reaction, and the clueless ones who love the reference design.

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2047176 - 03/12/13 06:27 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6090
Loc: Rochester MN
I have a tuner/tech who I think does a superb job. It took some time to find him. He always plays before he tunes, as well as after. About the third tuning, I asked why he played before tuning. He replied that he needed to remind himself of the personality of my piano. Great answer - Instant trust!
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2047218 - 03/12/13 07:42 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8072
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
He replied that he needed to remind himself of the personality of my piano. Great answer - Instant trust!

Yes, pianos do indeed have their own personalities, for better or worse. In fact, that personality can change from morning to evening! smile

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2047387 - 03/13/13 12:38 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Rickster]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1463
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Do customers want to pay me for the 15 to 20 minutes of playing time I would enjoy when I come to service their piano?

It is better to play before you tune and service because that tells you what the piano is like and then you can ask the customer if they notice the problems you do.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2047445 - 03/13/13 03:18 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20757
Loc: Oakland
A lot of problems go away with tuning. So you have to check before and after.
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#2047507 - 03/13/13 08:02 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8072
Loc: Georgia, USA
Okay, I’m going to throw this out there as a matter of conversation… I have no hard data or statistics to back this up and it is pure instinct/intuition/gut feeling on my part. I’m thinking that there are more tuners who play the piano to some degree, (and some quite well) than there are who don’t.

My reasoning is that, based on what I have read and learned here on PW over the years, and my own personal experiences, many piano players become interested in piano technology just as many piano players become interested in buying and selling pianos, or being piano teachers. It’s all related in some way.

Many piano dealers are also players (but not all) and many technicians are players (but not all) and many piano teachers are players (but not all smile ).

Just my .02

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2047514 - 03/13/13 08:14 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Do customers want to pay me for the 15 to 20 minutes of playing time I would enjoy when I come to service their piano?

It is better to play before you tune and service because that tells you what the piano is like and then you can ask the customer if they notice the problems you do.


I play before and after. Before the tuning is more of a quick chromatic scale, a few chords, evaluating pitch, repetition, regulation, and voicing while getting the history and any current problems from the customer.

Afterwards, I play chords, arpeggios, and songs to check the tuning, regulation, voicing. I can get the client to applaud after 5 min of playing - 15-20 minutes is excessive, unless it's a very nice piano, and I've got the time....In that case, I get out some sheet music, and don't charge the customer for that.

Clients often say "my piano never sounded so good" or "will it play that well when I sit down" or "let me open the windows so my neighbors will think it's me".....being able to play the piano, even if it's the same songs at each tuning is an advantage. It sets you apart. People remember it. If I don't play a bit after tuning, I'll get comments "oh, I was waiting for you to play".....and I'll have to sit down and poke at the keys for a bit. I don't play well, but clients enjoy it anyway.
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#2047580 - 03/13/13 10:44 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Rickster]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Okay, I’m going to throw this out there as a matter of conversation… I have no hard data or statistics to back this up and it is pure instinct/intuition/gut feeling on my part. I’m thinking that there are more tuners who play the piano to some degree, (and some quite well) than there are who don’t.

My reasoning is that, based on what I have read and learned here on PW over the years, and my own personal experiences, many piano players become interested in piano technology just as many piano players become interested in buying and selling pianos, or being piano teachers. It’s all related in some way.

Many piano dealers are also players (but not all) and many technicians are players (but not all) and many piano teachers are players (but not all smile ).

Just my .02

Rick


True, but at the same time, some pianists who become tuners get something I like to call "piano saturation". For example, after that WHOLE STEP pitch raise I did last week, the last thing I wanted to see was another piano! I find that the more I tune, the less I want to play.
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#2047605 - 03/13/13 11:36 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8072
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
True, but at the same time, some pianists who become tuners get something I like to call "piano saturation". For example, after that WHOLE STEP pitch raise I did last week, the last thing I wanted to see was another piano! I find that the more I tune, the less I want to play.

Very true…

I honestly don’t refer to myself as a tuner, per-se, but I’ve learned that tuning and servicing pianos can be very tedious, painstaking and time comsuming. I have spent as much as 8 hours + at one time tuning and servicing my piano. The results were great, and worth it, but at the end of that time I was not in the mood to spend a few more hours playing. So, I can relate to what you are saying.

In fact, if you can aford it, find an excellent tuner to tune your paino as often as needed, and just consentrate on playing! smile

Rick
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Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2047691 - 03/13/13 02:10 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
I think it's clear from this thread that it's not necessary to play the piano at all or play the piano at a high level to be an excellent tuner. This is evidenced by the fact that it seems that people agree that some very excellent techs have no or minimal playing ability.

OTOH I also think it's possible that playing skills at various levels could add qualities to a tuner's ability that could not be there without those playing skills. I don't think those specific skills have been mentioned so far.

I think the other skills(more specifically regulating and voicing) besides tuning also need to be discussed in relation to anything that playing skill might add.

So I'd like to hear answers to the question:

What specific skills, if any, do you think a piano tech (at various levels of playing ability) have directly because of that playing ability that would not be possible for a tech without those playing skills to have?



Edited by pianoloverus (03/13/13 02:18 PM)

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#2047840 - 03/13/13 07:33 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Dave B Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1730
Loc: Philadelphia area
PL.. Can you repeat that question please?

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#2047848 - 03/13/13 07:54 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Dave B]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6090
Loc: Rochester MN


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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2047851 - 03/13/13 07:57 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Mark Purney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 373
Loc: Mesa, AZ
I believe that a technician doesn't need to be a pianist in order to do great work. Some of the best technicians can't play at all. I can't imagine regulating an action without being able to see, yet we all know about the incredible work being done by technicians who must do everything entirely by feel. They excel despite a handicap. But I have to say that being a pianist is a definite advantage, and I exploit that advantage in every possible way. I can put a piano through it's paces and evaluate its performance in ways that can't be achieved by a non-pianist. I've finished tuning a piano, and then sat down to play it afterward to discover things I didn't notice during the tuning. There are piano compositions that are very hard to play if a piano's action isn't regulated properly. I can determine things in a few seconds by playing that I can't imagine doing any other way. But it's only an advantage, and not something required to do my job.
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#2047862 - 03/13/13 08:26 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark Purney]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
Originally Posted By: Mark Purney
But I have to say that being a pianist is a definite advantage, and I exploit that advantage in every possible way. I can put a piano through it's paces and evaluate its performance in ways that can't be achieved by a non-pianist. I've finished tuning a piano, and then sat down to play it afterward to discover things I didn't notice during the tuning. There are piano compositions that are very hard to play if a piano's action isn't regulated properly. I can determine things in a few seconds by playing that I can't imagine doing any other way. But it's only an advantage, and not something required to do my job.


I wonder if that advantage makes a good tuning a great tuning.

To me I would think so...

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#2047872 - 03/13/13 08:52 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Dave B]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Dave B
PL.. Can you repeat that question please?
Why? I think it's pretty clearly phrased as is.

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#2047874 - 03/13/13 08:56 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Originally Posted By: Mark Purney
But I have to say that being a pianist is a definite advantage, and I exploit that advantage in every possible way. I can put a piano through it's paces and evaluate its performance in ways that can't be achieved by a non-pianist. I've finished tuning a piano, and then sat down to play it afterward to discover things I didn't notice during the tuning. There are piano compositions that are very hard to play if a piano's action isn't regulated properly. I can determine things in a few seconds by playing that I can't imagine doing any other way. But it's only an advantage, and not something required to do my job.


I wonder if that advantage makes a good tuning a great tuning.

To me I would think so...
It seems as thought Mark was talking mostly about regulation and not tuning.

That's one reason I said I think it makes sense to specifically discuss other aspects of tech work besides tuning. My guess is that evaluating the regulation might be the main area where techs who are excellent pianists may have some advantage but I'm not at all certain about this.


Edited by pianoloverus (03/13/13 08:59 PM)

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New Topics - Multiple Forums
MP7 vs MP11: only 6 differences?
by Marko in Boston
40 minutes 56 seconds ago
the conclusion on weighted keys and developing technique
by B.Petrovic
47 minutes 4 seconds ago
song i wrote about a coffee shop
by jedplays
59 minutes 19 seconds ago
song i wrote. people in clubs love it
by jedplays
Today at 08:48 PM
Supporting young student
by Cardinal201
Today at 08:01 PM
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