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#2101422 - 06/12/13 10:56 AM Piano Tuner career choice advice needed!
PeterGriffin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 28
Hello all smile ,

I am interested in becoming a piano technician and would like some advice.

I live in Ontario, Canada and just realized that there is only one school offering this course which is University of Western Ontario. They are full for September and I want to start studying immediately, so I found a school online called "Randy Potter School of Piano Technology" where you study from home. Have any of you heard about this school or studied at it yourself?

Can I become a member of Piano Technicians Guild if I take Randy Potter's course?

I also want to ask some questions that some of you might think is a bit personal but if you feel comfortable answering, please do because it will help me make an informed decision.


*Is this your full-time career?
*Are you satisfied with your job?
*How would you describe the stress level of this job?
*What are the benefits and downsides of being a piano technician?
*How easy is was it to find work when you were starting out?
*What is the earning potential of this job?
*What is it like to be a female piano technician(I am female).

Thank you all for reading and I'm looking forward to hearing your insights on this.

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#2101440 - 06/12/13 11:34 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Hello female PeterGriffin wink

Welcome to the forum.
While I hope you get a lot of responses, these are questions that come up fairly regularly and chances are you can find lots by digging in the archives (search box at top left of every page).

Learning a hands-on (and ears on) craft by correspondence will be slow and challenging for most people, to say the least. Many start and never finish. A hands on learning environment is surely the best option, even if you have to delay your entry.

You can become a PTG member at any time, and there are many learning opportunities inside and outside the PTG. There are some great books out there, (which will be more up-to-date than correspondence courses), and the PTG offers many resources, local Chapter meetings, and regional and Annual conferences which are great for learning.

Check it out, then go for it!
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2101684 - 06/12/13 07:57 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
David Jenson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 1947
Loc: Maine
You're asking questions that are hashed over ad infinitum. Like Jurgen mentioned, searching the archives will get you all the answers you need.

Also ...
Posting with a name of a cartoon wise-guy might not be the best way to get serious responses.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2101719 - 06/12/13 09:16 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
I trained hands-on with a company before striking out on my own, so I can't give any advice about correspondence courses, although I've been tempted to sign up for one.

However, I am a female piano tuner. You're going to run into problems. I'm also only 24, so that doesn't help. Everybody expects the piano technician to show up and be a silver haired man in a suit and suspenders. I've had men grab the front boards out of my hands (because I can't "lift it"), I've had people very suspicious of me trying to repair /anything/ at all. You name the potential sexist action, and its probably happened. However, once you show that you can do the work, nobody cares. In fact, a lot of ladies are more comfortable with a female tuner. You will have more issues, being smaller than your male counterparts, lifting pianos away from walls and lifting actions. In fact, I avoid pulling actions unless absolutely necessary.

As far as your job prospects go, most technicians work for themselves. You can find a job with a store, which will limit both your learning potential and your earning potential. (New pianos rarely have the issues old ones do.) If you're lucky, you may be able to find a job with a full service company or technician like I did.

If you do end up working for yourself, your earning potential depends on what you charge. Remember to deduct the price of things like gas, website, insurance, advertising, tools, supplies, etc. Just because you can easily gross $100,000 doesn't mean you'll be earning that. As a fledgling tuner, you'll almost certainly need to work a second job until you have enough service appointments to support yourself. Plan on at least 2 years working two jobs, unless you have a lot of money to sink into advertising from the outset. You need to have enough repeating customers that you can rely on for steady income. New customers are exciting, but old customers pay the bills.
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2101731 - 06/12/13 09:45 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
accordeur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1110
Loc: Québec, Canada
Very nice advice from Sam.

And you will find that the search function works relatively well.

All the best.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

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#2101760 - 06/12/13 10:44 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
*Is this your full-time career? Yes -

*Are you satisfied with your job? I can't wait to see my first piano of the day

*How would you describe the stress level of this job? No stress at all.

*What are the benefits - Being Self Employed

and downsides of being a piano technician? Being Self Employed

*How easy is was it to find work when you were starting out? Much easier than today. Back then, stores actually had full time technicians. Not so today.

*What is the earning potential of this job? How hard can you work?

*What is it like to be a female piano technician(I am female). I think the ladies have to work harder to prove their abilities but for one, I welcome the diversity.

I was going to dye the grey out of my hair. I guess I'll keep it, now. I am NOT wearing suspenders, though! (or a tie)!!!
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2101853 - 06/13/13 08:00 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Jon Page Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 186
Loc: Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
Look into your local PTG chapter and see if there is someone to mentor you. There will be many hours spent practicing tuning, many, many hours. This is over the course or six months to a year depending on your aptitude; just to be minimally competent enough to tune for a reduced fee. You're probably looking at 5 to 10 years before you get pretty good at tuning.

You will need a piano at home on which to practice. Guidance is essential.

Getting a job with a dealer might not be a bad deal. New pianos come through sometimes just as rough as old ones, sometimes worse, due to factory oversights or faulty forefinishing. Hopefully you would be under the tutelage of someone well versed in action geometry and piano construction. Floor tunings are great practice. Sweeping floors, dusting/polishing pianos, polishing brass are just added skills :-)

I started in a store and after two years went out on my own. The dealer agreed to hire me on the stipulation that I would not 'open shop' within 200 miles. It stands to reason that he do not want to train his competition. Fortunately, I found that dealer in Washington , DC; my home is Cape Cod, Mass.; so the mileage was not an issue. Within six months I had to go back to DC for a few weeks to work, getting started is hard, very hard. I called a local tuner and asked if he could send me any tunings that he can't get to or want to do. Things started to pick up after a few years. It's a slow start but worth it in the end.
_________________________
Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com

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#2101927 - 06/13/13 11:26 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I think that there is great potential for new, younger people to enter the craft/trade. With the average age of techs somewhere in the mid-50s, our craft desperately needs recruitment.

While piano service work is probably on the decline, i.e. the market is shrinking, I believe the rate of technician attrition is even higher. So there could actually be a net growth of markets for new techs, as fewer techs are around to do the work.

There will always be a demand for good people, and I think this is true for any field.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#2102333 - 06/14/13 08:19 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: Jon Page]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
Originally Posted By: Jon Page


Getting a job with a dealer might not be a bad deal. New pianos come through sometimes just as rough as old ones, sometimes worse, due to factory oversights or faulty forefinishing. Hopefully you would be under the tutelage of someone well versed in action geometry and piano construction. Floor tunings are great practice. Sweeping floors, dusting/polishing pianos, polishing brass are just added skills :-)

I started in a store and after two years went out on my own. The dealer agreed to hire me on the stipulation that I would not 'open shop' within 200 miles. It stands to reason that he do not want to train his competition. start but worth it in the end.



You have to find a dealer that actually preps pianos, or you won't get much repair experience. A dealer/rebuilder is a good bet - you know - a dealer who has a workshop in store with pianos in process. If the dealer is working on used pianos before placing them on the sales floor, that adds up to experience. A great place to learn is in a university setting, preferably under one of the experienced head techs at a major college.



_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#2102423 - 06/14/13 11:10 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: Bob]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
I can't speak for the rest of the country, but I've had no shortage of potential customers. Music education is being returned to the home, so parents have no choice but to get the piano tuned, or listen to their children bang on it for several hours a day while it sounds like a cat screeching. Add in the fact that in the last 10 years, my area has lost more than half of its tuners to retirement, and you've got a pretty ripe market.
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2102664 - 06/14/13 10:01 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
For the youngsters wanting to enter the trade, all you have to do is commit yourself to pianos. If you want to do it part time or for the money, find something else to do for a living
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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#2102701 - 06/14/13 11:38 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: Bob]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3296
Originally Posted By: Bob
A great place to learn is in a university setting, preferably under one of the experienced head techs at a major college.


Actually, it's probably the best place!
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2102722 - 06/15/13 01:02 AM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
David, Las Vegas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/08
Posts: 204
Loc: Las Vegas, Nevada
Long story short ..... I hobbied at piano finishes as I worked on boats with varnishes, Lacquer's and polyester. I played piano as a kid and was intrigued with them. Just a weekend hobby and made a few bucks. Unfortunately when I did disassemble cabinets I broke a piece or two ..... decided to join the Maine PTG chapter .... did some minor apprenticeships as well as all the chapter meetings. The hobby was a lot of fun but I was never happy with the piano tuners job after he did my piano so my wife says "why don't you buy one of those hammer thingee's and do it yourself". Got the Randy potter course and learned the Coleman temperament and practiced for a year. Just on weekends or evenings. Remember, it's still a hobby and never planning on doing it for a living. The temperment was the hardest to learn. I went to conventions, passed the tuning exam on my 3rd try. That was 29 years ago and I still enjoy my hobby turn profession.

If you want to do it... do it. Take your time and practice on anything you have permission to work on. If you are getting mentoring offer compensation for that technicians time and knowledge. I had no mentoring but I just practiced a lot. My best resource for practical education was PTG conventions. It's a job that includes working your brain and muscles. Economic success will be gradual. Learn to associate with the people as well as the pianos. Your business success will be mostly by word of mouth. Good luck!


Edited by David, Las Vegas (06/15/13 01:04 AM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
David Chadwick RPT
Las Vegas, Nevada
1923 Steinway "M"
1931 Mason Hamlin AA

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#2104117 - 06/17/13 11:18 PM Re: Piano Tuner career choice advice needed! [Re: PeterGriffin]
Gary Fowler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/13
Posts: 372
The best/quickest ways to start a piano tuning business(assuming you are a competent tuner) is to get on board with a large piano store. Steal their customer files, and call every one of them to schedule a tuning appointment.
_________________________
Making the world a better sounding place, one piano at a time...

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