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#2102041 - 06/13/13 03:30 PM Tuning in the dark
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 141
Loc: South Jersey
So I was tuning at a church this morning and the power went out during a massive thunderstorm. Thankfully, the church member who was waiting with me went out and grabbed a Coleman lantern so I could see what I was doing. During the time in-between while I was struggling to get through the mid-treble with no light, I started wondering how blind piano tuners do it. I've heard of a couple; one that used to live in my area, and someone on the forums here mentioned one recently (can't remember who).

Obviously they tune completely aurally, but wouldn't tuning present a lot of other challenges? The one that used to work in my area (he passed away a few years ago and I never met him) did a good job as far as I can tell.
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2102045 - 06/13/13 03:42 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: BenP
So I was tuning at a church this morning and the power went out during a massive thunderstorm. Thankfully, the church member who was waiting with me went out and grabbed a Coleman lantern so I could see what I was doing. During the time in-between while I was struggling to get through the mid-treble with no light, I started wondering how blind piano tuners do it. I've heard of a couple; one that used to live in my area, and someone on the forums here mentioned one recently (can't remember who).

Obviously they tune completely aurally, but wouldn't tuning present a lot of other challenges? The one that used to work in my area (he passed away a few years ago and I never met him) did a good job as far as I can tell.

In most cases, the brain's so-called "visual cortex" works fine in blind people. The brain being a remarkably plastic thing, this large area of brain assumes duties it doesn't perform in sighted people. This is what often gives abilities to the blind which can astonish sighted people.

Mapping physical things (like tuning pins) in space is one of those abilities. I can well imagine that blind piano techs perform feats that a sighted tech in a blindfold couldn't do running downhill with a tailwind.

When I was in college, the severely visually impaired tuners who dealt with our music school's instruments seemed to manage them extremely well.

Andy

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#2102046 - 06/13/13 03:42 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2330
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
My wifes mother used to be an assistant for a blind tuner many years ago and helped him with some repairs and such. As far as the tuning goes, its not that difficult to navigate the piano with mutes and move the hammer once a blind person practices a bit. About 4 decades ago and later here in Canada, our government had a sponsorship program for blind people (through the CNIB) to encourage them into the piano tuning trade and also had a training center for it. A fellow classmate of mine at GBC was also "legally" blind and did some decent repair work even though he could only make out high contrast and large objects with his limited sight.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#2102049 - 06/13/13 03:46 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: Emmery]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 216
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: Emmery
About 4 decades ago and later here in Canada, our government had a sponsorship program for blind people (through the CNIB) to encourage them into the piano tuning trade and also had a training center for it.

I bet that's how the guys I saw at York University (Toronto) got into the trade. Interesting.

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#2102097 - 06/13/13 05:25 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
wcctuner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 110
Loc: Princeton, NJ
Yes, those were some bad storms this morning, a lot of power outages. Just curious, where in S Jersey are you located. I grew up in Collingswood, so I'm familiar with that end of the state. PM me if you want
_________________________
Dave Forman
Piano Technician, Westminster Choir College of Rider University

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#2102124 - 06/13/13 06:12 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
I carry an inexpensive headlamp for such occasions, but if my sight were impaired (more than it is), I suspect I would have trouble finding the proper string to damp and tuning pin to turn, just the way that I have trouble finding the proper key to play when I attempt to play the piano.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2102141 - 06/13/13 07:12 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
A light of some kind in the toolkit (headlamp is great) is almost as essential to going out on the road for tuning as tuning mutes are.
What was the old boy scout motto? Something about being prepared....
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2102149 - 06/13/13 07:39 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1110
Loc: Québec, Canada
I always carry both a head lamp and a regular small flashlight. LED is now so advanced they weigh very little. And my iPhone has a flashlight on it for when I have not even opened my tool kit. Great for estimates, taking pictures etc.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

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#2102158 - 06/13/13 07:54 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: Supply]
BenP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 141
Loc: South Jersey
Interesting. I know the blind tuner that worked in my area had his wife drive him around to his appointments, but I'm pretty sure he worked alone. It gives me a whole new respect for blind tuners (or any blind people, for that matter). It would probably take me 2-3 minutes just to find each tuning pin at first.

Originally Posted By: Supply
A light of some kind in the toolkit (headlamp is great) is almost as essential to going out on the road for tuning as tuning mutes are.
What was the old boy scout motto? Something about being prepared....


I actually do have a pretty bright light on my phone that I could have finished with without too much trouble, but the Coleman lantern made things quite a bit easier. Typically I use my phone, or whatever piano lamp is available when I need to get more light inside a piano. But I like the idea of a headlamp - it would come in handy for more purposes than just when the power goes out.

I'm still at the point, and probably will be for a long time, when I realize on practically a weekly basis my need for some new tool in my travel tool kit. I guess a light is the next thing on the list.
_________________________
Ben Patterson
Part-time Piano Tech
Rural South Jersey

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#2102161 - 06/13/13 08:05 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1110
Loc: Québec, Canada
I have a small 3 LED headlamp that works with 2 watch batteries. It lasts a long time. It also swivels, which is great when you are removing or inserting upright hammer flange screws hidden behing the jack. Energizer makes some really nice ones, mine are just cheap walmart special.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

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#2102206 - 06/13/13 10:37 PM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
Ryan Hassell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/09
Posts: 413
Loc: Farmington, MO
Ditto on the headlamp. I got one for Christmas last year. It makes things so much easier!
_________________________
Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com

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#2103137 - 06/16/13 01:23 AM Re: Tuning in the dark [Re: BenP]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
I can tune away, even in very low light(or nearly dark). If I have to replace a string however, I need LIGHT like nobody's business! I can't stand to replace a string in a dimly lit room
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