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#2100981 - 06/11/13 03:08 PM Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice?
Jimmy3 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 4
Loc: Colorado
What are your experiences with available correspondence piano tuning courses?
I am a piano lessons teacher and performing artist seeking to round out my skills as a full-time musician with part time work tuning and providing basic piano repair.
I have found three courses online at varied prices which i would consider undertaking.

The Piano Tuner's Super Home Study Course. Includes tools and a lot of email availability to the author, Ron Falcone for $745

The American School of Piano Tuning. Includes tools and parts. Long-time established 'school' with testing and diplomas, but I'm not clear about availability of person to person assistance. $1290

Randy Potter School of Piano Tuning. Includes tools and parts, videos. $1795 includes an action model $995 without the model.

I want to learn well. But I don't want to be overwhelmed with detail. I wonder if the less expensive option(s) are for me??

Please help me with your correspondence course experiences. Thanks!

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#2101086 - 06/11/13 06:13 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1253
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Jimmy,

I am answering as a resource who has experience in the education of technicians, and not in anyway in an attempt to change your mind about coreespondance courses as a vehicle to learning the trade.

You make a good comment regarding having a person available for resource. No matter which correspondance course you decide on, you will need to reach out and find a qualified technician with the "heart of a teacher" who is willing to give advice and time.

As for the action model, I do not believe they are necessary at all. We don't play action models, we play pianos. Any skill you learn that is specific to the action model will be wasted. You want to learn how to work on a real piano. That, of course, is only my opinion.

As for price, this should not be a concern too much because you are learning a vocation which has revenue generating potential. I estimate that the cost of piano technician tools needed to perform most of the repairs you will want to do, is close to $10,000.

With all due respect, if you don't want to be overwhelmed with detail, perhaps this is not the field for you; the best technicians are overwhemed with the desire to know more detail.

Good luck,
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2101103 - 06/11/13 06:35 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1721
Loc: Conway, AR USA
The remarks from Mr Tuner sound like good advice.

I would only add that a good article in the PTJ reviewed at least two of the schools that you mention. I do not recall the date (1990 or so?) and no longer have my collection of PTJs. However, perhaps someone who remembers the piece, and has the article, would be amenable to sending you a copy.


Edited by bkw58 (06/11/13 06:37 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
_________________________
Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicś Blog

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#2101129 - 06/11/13 07:34 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1968
Loc: Philadelphia area
Jimmy3, Some people love it, and others don't. I suggest getting together with a few piano techs to get an idea of what involved. Even with electronic tuning aids, it takes a few years of practice.

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#2101242 - 06/11/13 10:58 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Dave B]
Jimmy3 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 4
Loc: Colorado
Thanks to Mr. Tuner and others for thoughtful responses. I want to clarify that i live far from an urban center and have a family including a one-year-old, so I believe a correspondance course is my only way to learn in a structured way.

I feel I need to dive into it - and find out if it is for me. And I'll find out if I CAN do it and WANT to do it more... then , over the course of years get better and better at it. One of you said it takes years of practice... Do you mean that one cannot provide a professional quality tune to a household piano without years of practice? How many hours of tuning do y'all think it takes before a person may be proficcient enough to be in the business?

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#2101638 - 06/12/13 06:42 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 375
It's wierd. After you have been tuning for 15 or 20 years, you realize you weren't really all that good of a tuner after 2 or 3 years in the business.
The main thing is to commit yourself to learning the trade. If you do that, an older tuner will come along and want to help you succeed.
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2101654 - 06/12/13 07:05 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3333
Originally Posted By: Jimmy3
Thanks to Mr. Tuner and others for thoughtful responses. I want to clarify that i live far from an urban center and have a family including a one-year-old, so I believe a correspondance course is my only way to learn in a structured way.

I feel I need to dive into it - and find out if it is for me. And I'll find out if I CAN do it and WANT to do it more... then , over the course of years get better and better at it. One of you said it takes years of practice... Do you mean that one cannot provide a professional quality tune to a household piano without years of practice? How many hours of tuning do y'all think it takes before a person may be proficcient enough to be in the business?


Years. If you don't know in your heart that this is what you want to do, don't do it. And even then, think about it long and hard. Starting a private tuning business is not easy.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2245414 - 03/12/14 02:56 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Mario Bruneau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 133
Loc: Québec, Canada
Hi Jimmy,

You are right when you say "I feel I need to dive into it - and find out if it is for me." That's the "only" way you will find out if you have the qualities needed to become a good piano tuner.

Contrary to the popular belief that you need "a good ear" to become a piano tuner is far away from the reality.

Here are the qualities needed to become a piano tuner:

A good sense of rhythm
So that you can evaluate the beating rates with accuracy.
A healthy, strong fitness
Manipulating the tuning hammer is physically quite demanding.
Above "normal" sensitivity
You need herculean force to manipulate the tuning pins but at the same time, you need to be as delicate as a butterfly for precision.
An educated ear
We all have a perfect ear when born. The organic functionality of our ears are working normally for everyone of us. What is needed here is to connect your ears to your brain by getting the knowledge.
Exceptional manual dexterity Do you have fun playing with objects? Can you do tricks with your hands?
Eager to learn The theoretical aspect of piano tuning is very broad and there is a lot to learn.
Scientific and inquiring mind Do learning how sound travels, the physics of sound, the reaction of different material to moisture, etc. sounds boring to you? It should not.

I think you should start by buying books like Reblitz, etc. To familiarise yourself with the trade and then follow up with buying the necessary tools and get to work. Don't buy the cheap goose neck tuning hammer. Consider paying at least $100 for your tuning lever.

I have set up with Frank a good piano tuning kit starter. Please follow this link (affiliate link) to purchase it :

http://pianotuninghowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/buy-now.jpg

Also, come here often to ask questions. Members of this forum are pro tuners-technicians and are very generous in giving advices.

Best luck,

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#2245554 - 03/12/14 07:42 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Ed Sutton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/12/13
Posts: 42
This question comes up about every three weeks.
Use the Pianoworld search function to find many opinions.
Since most folks who take correspondence courses take only one, donít be surprised if they feel the one they took was the best! What do they know of other courses?
For a start, consider the courses created and taught by RPTs. At least once in their lives, RPTs were willing to have their basic skills tested in objective tests by competent technicians. That, I believe, ranks higher than self-created certifications.
The three RPT-taught correspondence courses I know of are by Mark Cerisano, RPT, Randy Potter, RPT and Rick Butler, RPT. Google each for information about their programs.
Then I would search carefully to discern how much genuine personal coaching you will get.
Many great books have been published in the last 10 years, including books by Dan Levitan, Mario Igrec and Steve Brady. For less than $300 you can have these books, which will give you the most up-to-date references on piano technology.
The Piano Technicians Guild sells lesson books as well, at moderate prices.]
Finally, you will need personal contact with professional colleagues to refine and sharpen your skills, the more the better.
[Full disclosure: I edit the PTG Piano Technicians Journal. I donít believe PTG is perfect, but I do believe itís the best thing we have going.]

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#2245590 - 03/12/14 08:54 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Spot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/13
Posts: 118
Loc: Australia
Some people say you need to write about 250 000 words before you get the hang of 'writing'.

So perhaps there is a similar ballpark for pianos?

probably something like you need to do 100 full tunings before getting the hang of it.

Then another 100 before being consistent

then another 100 before before being comfortable/confident

I wouldnt know as ive only done 6 full tunings and am still having trouble getting a simple single note to simply stay where I darn put it!
_________________________
Trainee tuner/technician

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#2245654 - 03/12/14 10:42 PM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 1253
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Ben,

There is not a standard number. Some say 1000. Some say 200. Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers", mentions the 10,000 hour rule that states, in order to be an expert, one needs to perform an activity for 10,000 hours. Assuming an average of 2 hours per tuning, that's 5000 tunings!

As for stability, the lessons I gave you are still the method I am using. I strongly believe that the scientific treatment I am giving to the elastic deformation and friction within the tuning pin/string system, should allow you to achieve stability on any piano, and when you have trouble, analyse the situation to determine the best method.

The only regret I have is that the method was still in the forming stages when you took the course. I am working on a free video lesson which I hope will describe the friction and elastic deformation within the system much better than I was able to do in the Skype course. I will send you a link when it is ready.

You will definitely need to tune more than six pianos, but the actual number that you will need to tune before you feel competent will depend on how conscious you are of what you are doing. Many of the comments that refer to the high number of tunings you need to do to get good, are accurate if one expects to learn how to tune pianos with a general understanding of the theory, instead of a complete understanding and application of the theory.

The "learning" still needs to become second nature, ingrained, automatic, natural, whatever you want to call it, but a thorough understanding of theory will help speed up the process, if one doesn't obsess too much about the theory, letting it go at the right time, to allow the real internal natural learning to happen.

This balance between thorough understanding of theory, and internalized natural learning, is what I believe to be the fastest, most efficient way to learn a performance craft to the highest level. Achieving that balance is the real challenge.

Good luck. Please keep in touch and email or post questions regarding stability or any other piano related topic and I will be happy to try to be more specific.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2245719 - 03/13/14 01:51 AM Re: Piano Tuning Courses - Best Choice? [Re: Jimmy3]
Spot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/13
Posts: 118
Loc: Australia
Hi Mark,

Yep to all that and thanks.

I am just up to re-watching lesson 7&8 ( I think ) which is all about stability.

I just tuned the Kawai and whilst I am having "difficulty" with stability, I am happy with my progress.

My comment was more tongue in cheek inferring that simply learning to 'tune' is only one part of many things you need to become proficient at. i.e. Sometimes its hard enough to set one string let alone 230 odd!

Already I am experiencing what you are talking about re- accelerated learning due to better understanding of theory, and have noted genuine improvement of my stability over my last couple of tunings. Even the ability to discern this improvement, I believe, has come from learning the theory you taught me.

I look forward to your video on this, yet feel it was well presented in the course, and will take my time watching and rewatching as I go.

Obviously it is best to work with a mentor, but if that doesnt eventuate my plan is to practice for at least another twelve months, probably longer, and then take another step forward with your advanced courses and maybe grand regulation.

Who knows, I might even come into some money and fly over to Canada for a course or two, which I know I would enjoy.


Ben


Edited by Spot (03/13/14 08:51 AM)
_________________________
Trainee tuner/technician

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