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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: 4381
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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
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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Marty in Minnesota

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

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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: 219
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: 56
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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Registered: 06/07/03
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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: 3436
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: 9584
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: 3940
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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
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: 5
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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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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www.grootpiano.com

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#2044960 - 03/08/13 09:14 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2986
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: 477
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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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
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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 Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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: 14477
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
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1096
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
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 389
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
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Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 481
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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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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: 481
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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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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Marty in Minnesota

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

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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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
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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#2045481 - 03/09/13 11:35 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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

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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 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
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!
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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: 1697
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 Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
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: 4468
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 Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8601
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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#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: 445
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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#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: 219
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: 3436
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: 219
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: 3436
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: 219
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: 3436
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: 2536
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
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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 Offline

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Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
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 Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8601
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 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
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
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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 Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8601
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: 3940
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: 3436
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 Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8601
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19945
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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2130
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 Offline

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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: 4381
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: 19945
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: 19945
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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#2047882 - 03/13/13 09:30 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Pianoloverus,
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that it is the speed with which you can evaluate an actions performance and the balance of tone that piano playing technique confers. The same thing as Mark Purney just said.

By the way Mr. Purney is a very skilled pianist. He can produce a wonderful tone and has a fluidic, virtuosic technique.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2047900 - 03/13/13 10:14 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
He can produce a wonderful tone and has a fluidic, virtuosic technique.

fluidic? My OED sent me in an obscure direction.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2047919 - 03/13/13 10:50 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Marty,
Given your off the wall reactions to some of my posts, maybe you often go in the wrong direction. Fluidic is a proper conjugate of the word fluid. It is an appropriate description of facile and dynamically controlled piano technique.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2047920 - 03/13/13 10:52 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Nope - A pianist has a fluid technique, not a fluidic technique.

Sorry, you're wrong. One does not conjugate an adjective.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2047934 - 03/13/13 11:14 PM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Minnesota Marty,
Fluidic works, you know what I meant and it is a word conjugate that fits the circumstances. There is no legal language authority in the English speaking world. All english writer/speakers are free to coin word forms and even grammatical variants. The final judge is-does it communicate accurately and effectively. We are no longer in school here. I make no pretense of being a highly skilled writer but sometimes I can turn a phrase or two. English dictionaries are always behind the times regarding language use.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2048111 - 03/14/13 09:44 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
There is no legal language authority in the English speaking world.
It just goes to show that one can fluidically step in it at will!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2048133 - 03/14/13 10:42 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Minnesota Marty]
KurtZ Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 1102
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty


Sorry, you're wrong. One does not conjugate an adjective.


You needn't be so pedantical. One who speaks so eruditiously hasn't any need to excel in pontificatiousness.

Have a great thursday!
_________________________
One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.

Rumi

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#2048137 - 03/14/13 10:51 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: KurtZ]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
KurtZ - Very Good!

_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2048145 - 03/14/13 11:11 AM Re: Tuners who play vs tuners who don't [Re: Mark...]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2724
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
KurtZ,
Such a temporally brilliant pun! You must have just been elected some sort of Pope!
Now if Marty can just stow his mistrust. Maybe you can absolve him of his past sins and he will sin no more.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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