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#2044654 - 03/07/13 05:14 PM Tuners who play vs tuners who don't
Mark... Offline
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Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4372
Loc: Jersey Shore
I didn't want to mess with the other tuner thread, but was curious.

I seem to have a better feeling about tuners who play vs tuners who don't. It's like they understand what you are hearing and looking for in the tuning or other work. When a tuner plays a beautiful piece on a freshly tuned piano, when they are done, it just seems they get it.

I'm quite amazed at tuners who aren't players, seems strange.

Do you feel a tuner who plays can do a better job vs a tuner who does not play?

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#2044657 - 03/07/13 05:19 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

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There have been very many non-playing tuners. There is no doubt about it.

However, I prefer a tuner who can play and really assess a piano from the pianist's viewpoint. I wonder about action regulators who don't play?
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#2044661 - 03/07/13 05:26 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 201
Loc: Boston, MA
Interesting. I assumed most tuners were players. Seems like a natural progression.

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#2044664 - 03/07/13 05:28 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
tend to rush Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 50
The majority of tuners I've run into don't play - to speak of. I'm ok with that, but a little concerned about their piano recommendations, which are pretty much based on clarity - how clearly they can hear the beats. An important criteria, for sure, but hardly the only one. Color, attack - they don't really think about that much. Can be excellent tuners, though, in my experience.

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#2044668 - 03/07/13 05:39 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
BDB Online   content
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I play, but I do not play particularly well. However, my judgement is clouded by comparison with those who do play well, sometimes spectacularly so, that I tune for.
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#2044671 - 03/07/13 05:47 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
beethoven986 Offline
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Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3297
Playing well definitely helps, but isn't necessary... many pianists have no concept of what constitutes good touch or tone. My mentor can't play the piano to save his life, but he's one of the best techs in North America.
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#2044675 - 03/07/13 05:54 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Rich Galassini Offline
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Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
I have had a number of technicians work with me over the years - several dozen, in fact. Some had masters degrees in piano performance and others had little to no musical experience. I see no correlation between the repair and tuning aspect and whether or not a technician is a player.

However, when it comes to concert preparation and fine voicing I see a leaning towards technicians who are musical. This does not necessarily mean that they are pianists but that they are able to discern musical differences, particularly in tone from note to note.

I have also seen professional level pianists that could not master these skills, so although they are somewhat related IMHO they are not steadfast in any way.

My 2 cents,
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#2044681 - 03/07/13 06:13 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Bob Offline
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Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
For my clients, it's an advantage for me to run through a few songs after tuning. I am not at a pro level, but clients still enjoy listening. For me, I'm checking octaves, unisons, repetition, regulation, pedals, listening for tonal issues, buzzing, feeling for any sticking I missed while tuning. It's just one more level of checks that helps me prevent call backs.
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#2044821 - 03/07/13 10:31 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Bob]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1468
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I play just well enough to have a feel for what a virtuoso experiences. The advantage in playing mainly is the speed with which you can diagnose. Tech's who don't play have to separate each element to verify how the piano is operating. There are techs that are excellent pianist but not great techs-so I don't think you can judge a tech by his playing chops alone.

There are tuners who are oblivious to fine musical nuance-because all they listen to are, how partials intersect.


Edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT (03/07/13 10:33 PM)
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#2044823 - 03/07/13 10:42 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
MichaelPatrick Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Seattle, WA
Just because someone can build an airplane doesn't mean they can fly it. smile
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#2044862 - 03/08/13 12:59 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
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Of course, airplanes have been built that nobody can fly, and even more that nobody can fly safely!
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#2044959 - 03/08/13 09:12 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Originally Posted By: Mark...
I didn't want to mess with the other tuner thread, but was curious.

I seem to have a better feeling about tuners who play vs tuners who don't. It's like they understand what you are hearing and looking for in the tuning or other work. When a tuner plays a beautiful piece on a freshly tuned piano, when they are done, it just seems they get it.

I'm quite amazed at tuners who aren't players, seems strange.

Do you feel a tuner who plays can do a better job vs a tuner who does not play?


Reverse that. Should an excellent or even a medeorice pianists be able to tune a piano in order to play one? Of course not., why? Because one has nothing to do with the other. I am not playing while I am tuning. I am tuning. Nor am I tuning the piano while I am playing it as that task has already been accomplished.
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#2044960 - 03/08/13 09:14 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2205
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
How about dancing?
Should tuners be able to dance?
wink
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#2044961 - 03/08/13 09:19 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: malkin]
shaolin95 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 474
You see this a lot in sports. Just because someone was a great player does not make him a great coach.
Still, not sure how one could dedicate to tuning pianos and not play them...feels odd to me. lol


Edited by shaolin95 (03/08/13 09:25 AM)
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#2044966 - 03/08/13 09:37 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: malkin]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: malkin
How about dancing?
Should tuners be able to dance?
wink


No, but dancers should be able to carry a tune.

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#2044969 - 03/08/13 09:42 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
Dancers should be able to count, but somehow some of them manage without.
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#2044981 - 03/08/13 10:03 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Steven Y. A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 291
Loc: Toronto
I dont think theres no direct relation - more like a natural progression that people assume.
my high school physics teacher teaches piano but he could not even play, and he couldnt play badminton but hes a coach for my high school badminton squad also University of Toronto badminton squad.


Edited by Steven Y. A. (03/08/13 03:37 PM)
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#2045133 - 03/08/13 03:33 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Very interesting discussion ... I would argue that a pianist should at least understand how to tune and regulate their piano, and a piano tuner/tech should know how to play, at least at a mediocre level.

If both the player and the tuner better understood each other, I think both would be more satisfied with their work and would be better able to communicate with one another.

The piano is one of the few instruments where the musicians that play it often know very little, or even nothing, about their own instrument. It is also one of the few instruments where the people who work on them often can't even play them.

As someone steeped in the world of acoustic and electric guitars, this seems bizarre to me. I would NEVER hire a guitar or amplifier tech who didn't play guitar (at least at a mediocre level), and honestly, I'm not sure there ever ARE any techs like that.

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#2045169 - 03/08/13 04:40 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: fishbulb]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19099
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: fishbulb
Very interesting discussion ... I would argue that a pianist should at least understand how to tune and regulate their piano, and a piano tuner/tech should know how to play, at least at a mediocre level.

If both the player and the tuner better understood each other, I think both would be more satisfied with their work and would be better able to communicate with one another.
What advantage is there to playing at a "mediocre level" vs. not playing at all?

I think tuning a piano is far harder than tuning most other instruments. For non pianos, it's a given that players have to learn to tune because this is necessary each time they play. So it shouldn't be surprising that violinists, for example, know how to tune their violins.

A good piano tech knows how to communicate and explain things about a piano since it's just a fact of life that at least 90%(but probably much closer to 100%) of pianists don't know how to tune or regulate a piano.

In theory what you say is makes sense, but for many reasons including the complexity involved in tuning and regulating I doubt it will ever be true that more than a handful of pianists will understand this.

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#2045175 - 03/08/13 04:55 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: fishbulb]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6121
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: fishbulb
Very interesting discussion ... I would argue that a pianist should at least understand how to tune and regulate their piano, and a piano tuner/tech should know how to play, at least at a mediocre level.

The problem with this statement is that the comparison is not of equal concepts. To be fair, 'the piano tuner/tech should understand how to play,' would need to be used.

Understanding a concept, or having the ability to execute it, is totally different in practice.
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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2045271 - 03/08/13 09:29 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13974
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
The difference I have witnessed over the years is not so much playing versus non-playing but HOW to play and listen to sound.

The very best were all concert technicians for whom tuning, voicing and regulation was not three but one single job.

Typically, when voicing [after tuning is finished first] they play SECTIONS of keys, pull out the action and voice for tonal evenness along neighboring keys. After few sections are done, they again test their work playing in the very area they had just worked before.

In European countries like Germany for example, it's mandatory for graduate techs to also be players, not advanced perhaps but capable of "listening in" what's happening and what they're doing.

Having said that, I've also seen great techs who don't play so it's not an exact science.

However, when it comes to touch and understanding "touch-weight", techs who are players themselves may again have an edge

Like the "setting of pins" during tuning, *feel* is an important component and those who can 'listen in' by playing themselves, seem to have a distinct advantage.

My 2 cents.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (03/08/13 09:37 PM)
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#2045339 - 03/09/13 01:37 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1054
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
The only advantage I am sure of in being able to play to at least a moderate level is where it applies to voicing the tuned and regulated instrument. The ability to play chromatically with some semblance of control is very useful to finishing up on a fine voicing.

My shop partner doesn't play anything except the tuner's dirge, but he is an exceptional tuner and regulator. I believe I have some advantage when it comes to final voicing because I can play with a level of control that he doesn't possess. Beyond that I know of no other advantage.
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#2045342 - 03/09/13 01:51 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
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Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 380
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
I don't tune pianos but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I've never had a player though question why I dont tune when we present them with some scratch made part for a broken piano that hasn't been made in 100 years.

Tuning is mentally exhausting and I am glad I can sub that out because these Holiday Inn bills are getting ridiculous.
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#2045385 - 03/09/13 06:46 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Minnesota Marty]
kapelli Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 341
Loc: Poland
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

The problem with this statement is that the comparison is not of equal concepts. To be fair, 'the piano tuner/tech should understand how to play,' would need to be used.

Understanding a concept, or having the ability to execute it, is totally different in practice.


This is exactly what I wanted to say. Piano tuner who can't play is for me some kind of handicaped person for me. In terms of doing best piano as possible.
OK, for home tuners for people who play for themselves and want to have piano just in tune and sound ok that kind of tuner is ok.

For high-demanding performance artist this kind of tuner/technician would be not acceptable. Person who don't play dont understand all aspects of playng, can't hear the subtle nuances etc. Probably will have also hard to understand sometimes the pianist artistic language about the sound.

The technican doesn't need to have a piano degree, but however should be trained to play some mid-level piano pieces.
Unfortunately, the piano is from one side combination of psyhics, from other, something that you can't easily measure and you can only describe by using your senses, and here is where the problem of playing vs non playing tuner starts to come.

Ability of playing just broaden the mind of tuner, so he can look more wider and complex on all aspects of piano. He can understand and fell many things, which non-playing just isn't able to catch. Of course, if the tuner is kind of piano-lover, not the person who once thought "i don't know what to do in my life so maybe I will be a piano tuner", becase the latter playing or non playing will be always bad tuner with no heart to have fun with pianos.

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#2045399 - 03/09/13 08:12 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: 6121
Loc: Rochester MN
I'm starting to think that one of the difficulties of this discussion is the definition of "tuner." I consider that profession to be different from a "tuner/technician."

There are many fine tuners who don't do voicing or regulation. It would seem, in that instance, that playing skills are lessened or not needed at all. When it comes to tuning/voicing/regulating it seems, at least to me, that some piano playing skills would be necessary to achieve a fine results.
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#2045411 - 03/09/13 08:44 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
kapelli Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 341
Loc: Poland
Exactly Marty, this what you wrote is something that is also in my post and I fully agree smile

These are completely different worlds - tuners who are just tuning for homes, hotels et., and people who are preparing performance pianos and doing some other beuatiful things with action.

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#2045435 - 03/09/13 09:35 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: 6121
Loc: Rochester MN
Kapelli, I'm not even pushing it as far as "concert tuning and prep." I think it applies to home instruments, as well.
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#2045447 - 03/09/13 10:14 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1468
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
People are much too varied in their individual characteristics to make hard distinctions between some skills-and others skills. There are great concert techs who hardly play. There are mediocre techs who play. There are great concert techs who play extremely well.

I think this topic should be understood for the limits of it's breadth. Evaluate any tech by what the finished work is like in reference to the expectations-not by what their pianistic skills are.
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#2045454 - 03/09/13 10:32 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: 6121
Loc: Rochester MN
Ed, the whole premise of the thread was the preference of the pianist in terms of the keyboard skills of a tuner. There is no doubt that there are many fine tuners who don't play, but the owner of the piano may very well prefer one who does.

Again, there is the mixing of a tuner and a technician. There would be a large difference between a "concert tuning" and a "full concert prep."

As I stated near the top of the thread, my preference is for a tuner who also can play the piano.
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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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#2045465 - 03/09/13 10:53 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1468
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Marty,
Your preference can be construed as a type of "prejudice". I was only trying to point that out in a less direct way.

I have had experience where my pianistic skills intimidate customers from explaining their needs. So the skill set and personality types can intersect in seemingly infinite combinations that a thoughtful person will keep in mind so as to limit the cost of their prejudices to all the people they meet in their life.
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