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#2125804 - 07/31/13 11:19 AM Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hello Everyone,

I am a registered piano technician with the piano technicians guild and I also give courses on how to tune and repair pianos.

Until now, giving courses was a great way to supliment my incone from tuning.

However, this summer has been very difficult to find people interested in learning this skill.

I have advertised using Google Adwords, I have paid for top ads in Kijiji. I keep track of everyone who contacts me about learning to tune and repair pianos and I have actively contacted each one of them to see if they are interested.

In the past I have had 10 to 12 individual registrants for each week of my courses. This summer, I have had to run my courses with only one student in each, choosing to cancel some.

So, my questions for you are:

1) Should I just give up on this? Is there basially no one interested in learning this trade anymore, or

2) Am I using the wrong marketing techniques. If you type in "learn to tune pianos" into Google, I come up on the first page, near the top, so I find it hard to believe people could not find me if they were interested, which makes me think, nobody is interested.

I need to decide what to do because, if I cannot increase my revenue doing this (which I love to do but need to be paid for it) then I will have to quit putting so much effort into marketing and preparation and just stop giving the courses and concentrate on something else.

I was just feeling extremely frustrated about the whole experience and thought a post on Pianoworld might shed some light on the situation.


Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (07/31/13 11:25 AM)
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2125811 - 07/31/13 11:31 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 380
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
I think the main issue is that piano tuning is work. It is mentally exhausting and maybe someone might think "wow" piano tuning, I could do that ! Then they get into it and it's not for them.

It's not just you or your field it's just the way it is these days. I bet if you took a poll on what people want to do even if they were unemployed the results would scare you. It doesn't matter if there are promises of big pay checks or not. Work ethic is about as rare as seeing Jimmy Hoffa & Elvis at the local diner
_________________________
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
www.NashvillePianoRescue.com
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
Chamber of Commerce
Member/Sponsor

Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
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#2125828 - 07/31/13 11:54 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2340
Loc: Olympia, WA
North Bennett Street School had 20 graduates this year, all young people - so there is some demand, and people are willing to pay substantial $$ to learn the trade. Randy Potter's program seems to be the top choice for folks on a budget or who don't have access to a mentor. Most of us learned by working along side an established technician, and then supplement with PTG conventions, workshops, Steinway factory training, etc.

I guess you have to ask yourself what you are offering that people can't get somewhere else? You might also consider sending anonymous review forms to your past attendees to find out how you can improve.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#2125841 - 07/31/13 12:17 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8069
Loc: Georgia, USA
Your dilemma is not new or unique to piano tuning in particular. I work at a community technical college and they will discontinue/close a technical program if the enrollment numbers drop below a certain level (usually 12 full time students per semester averaged over two years). I’ve seen several programs closed or discontinued due to lack of enrollment.

Occasionally, they will re-start a program that has been closed depending on community and employer interest.

I’m not sure what to suggest in terms of spurring a renewed interest in learning piano technology. And, I agree with Nash Piano Rescue, it is not an easy occupation. I am in the early stages of the learning curve in regards to learning piano technology, and when I tune my pianos, I say to myself… “now I know why piano tuners charge so much; they earn it”. smile

Good luck with your training endeavors.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2125860 - 07/31/13 12:47 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: rysowers]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: rysowers
North Bennett Street School had 20 graduates this year, all young people - so there is some demand, and people are willing to pay substantial $$ to learn the trade. Randy Potter's program seems to be the top choice for folks on a budget or who don't have access to a mentor. Most of us learned by working along side an established technician, and then supplement with PTG conventions, workshops, Steinway factory training, etc.

I guess you have to ask yourself what you are offering that people can't get somewhere else? You might also consider sending anonymous review forms to your past attendees to find out how you can improve.


Hi Ryan,

My course is unique in that it is relatively inexpensive, requires only a short formal commitment of time (of course, practicing is a given, after the course, but is more flexible than a formal school), and the live in-person element means the students get the best chance of success.

So, that is why I think it is the best option for those thinking they might like it, without the financial and time demand they would have to make for a NBSS or UofW. Yet, still contains the in-person live element, unlike Potter or American school.

But, the business model fails to confirm this. So I am still left wondering.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2125869 - 07/31/13 12:59 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Nash. Piano Rescue]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I think the main issue is that piano tuning is work. It is mentally exhausting and maybe someone might think "wow" piano tuning, I could do that ! Then they get into it and it's not for them.

It's not just you or your field it's just the way it is these days. I bet if you took a poll on what people want to do even if they were unemployed the results would scare you. It doesn't matter if there are promises of big pay checks or not. Work ethic is about as rare as seeing Jimmy Hoffa & Elvis at the local diner


I do agree. Here is the approximate breakdown of what people do with my course. All thouroughly enjoy taking it, but the outcomes vary considerably:

2% go on to take more in-depth formal training, year long courses, masters of piano technology, etc.

5% work as part-time technicians for themselves or others

2% tune their own pianos and those of their family and friends for free.

5% Tune their own pianos

6% continue to take more courses.

80% do not persue this field, but still find it fascinating.

So, that 80% would not take a North Bennet Street School type course, so they are part of my market.

Of course, the internet is full of appaling youtube videos and internet sites claiming to teach you how to tune pianos and then proceed with the most bizarre of techniques. One even sells a guitar tuner, with only 6 notes, and a pitch pipe, again only 6 notes, as part of the tools needed.

I have started a blog which I hope will eventually be considered as the source of professional knowledge on the best ways to learn this skill. There is so much mis-information out there, I had to do something. It is at learntotunepianos.wordpress.com.




Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (07/31/13 01:00 PM)
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Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2126346 - 08/01/13 10:54 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 380
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
I have issues with people posting certain types of videos on you-tube myself.

Skilled artists in various fields did this like crazy in 2005 and then when the economy tanked here most clever people just simply said " well why do I need to hire anyone, I can do it myself" Then later people like you and me saw a rash of piano tunings done with vise grips and 10 dollar guitar tuners.

My local news channel wanted to set a time lapse camera up for a year in my shop and I have had the history/discovery channel out here wanting me to do a show?? Piano Drama? That would be the most boring show ever. I have enough work now, I can't imagine having extra work and selling T-shirts too.

You are based in Quebec and having issues which is a highly intelligent artsy area. Have you tried any radio advertising targeting the demographic age groups? I find radio to be the best platform to gain business.
_________________________
J. Christie
Nashville Piano Rescue
www.NashvillePianoRescue.com
East Nashville
Bowling Green, KY
Scottsville KY.
Chamber of Commerce
Member/Sponsor

Putting inspiration in the hands of area musicians
Through restoration/renovation

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#2126585 - 08/01/13 06:48 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Nash. Piano Rescue]
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 344
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I think the main issue is that piano tuning is work. It is mentally exhausting and maybe someone might think "wow" piano tuning, I could do that ! Then they get into it and it's not for them.

It's not just you or your field it's just the way it is these days. I bet if you took a poll on what people want to do even if they were unemployed the results would scare you. It doesn't matter if there are promises of big pay checks or not. Work ethic is about as rare as seeing Jimmy Hoffa & Elvis at the local diner


Oddly enough, I had dinner this evening with Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa. Elvis admitted that he had considered a career as a piano tuner but felt that his tone-deafness would be a drawback. Hoffa thought that a tuner was 'some kinda fish' then wandered off to chat with JFK who also happened to be in the restaurant. I think you'll have to look elsewhere for students.

J-C.

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#2126618 - 08/01/13 08:05 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Nash. Piano Rescue]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
Have you tried any radio advertising targeting the demographic age groups? I find radio to be the best platform to gain business.


Hi J.
Are you saying radio advertising is a great source of business for your tuning business? I know this thread is about courses, but that interested me. I've often thought of trying it but was turned off by the huge price tag. $3,000. Is it worth it? Does it produce a prifit after advertising expense and related overhead?
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2126646 - 08/01/13 09:41 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Philm35 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 43
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
Radio would be a terribly inefficient way to spend your advertising dollars for a tiny niche business like piano tuning instruction.

Even if you were to advertise on a classical station (if you can find one), if you're lucky, maybe 1% of the audience would have interest in your product. You evaluate media spending on what's called a "cost per thousand" basis... how much it costs to reach 1000 people in your target audience... Advertising on radio, you'd likely be throwing 99% of your money out the window.

The smart way to advertise is to first identify your target audience. Who is most likely to want to take your course? Once you know that, look for media opportunities that directly target those people. Maybe you buy ads in the local symphony orchestra's program? Maybe direct mail to university music students? Targeted Google ads? I don't know... The key is to use your dollars efficiently... focus on the people who are most likely buy what you're selling... and ignore the rest. Mass media like radio, television and newspaper is great for advertisers that have a wide customer base like car dealers or restaurants or banks. Not so good for small niche players. That's why you don't see TV spots for Steinway on NBC.

By the way, I'm not planning on becoming a professional piano tuner, but I would be interested in learning how to tune my own piano properly. I'd be curious about how much course work would be necessary for me to learn to do that. (Tuning only... no action work, voicing, regulation, etc.). I'd take a course like that if it were available in my area.
_________________________
=====================
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Howard/Kawai 550 "Tier 5"
Roland VK-7 "Imitation B3"
=====================

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#2126697 - 08/01/13 11:57 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Artmann Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/24/13
Posts: 9
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Until now, giving courses was a great way to supliment my incone from tuning.



Because you just implied that tuning is not enough to satisfy you. So tuning learner will worry about this also.

Anyway try some free classifieds.
_________________________
Herman

Herman@artmannpiano.com
Skype: thisherman
QQ: 951880916
86-21-64892294

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#2126698 - 08/02/13 12:03 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hi Philm35,

My courses are 20 hours. If you are a musician with a good grasp of theory, interested in basic acoustical physics, and good with your hands, you will have no problem. Students who take the course, and are bright, are chomping at the bit to go home and practice the techniques I teach.

You can read more on my website. http://mrtuner.com/courses.htm.
I give local courses in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa. I also give online courses using video conferencing. Hope you can try it out.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2126724 - 08/02/13 01:04 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Artmann]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Artmann
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Until now, giving courses was a great way to supliment my incone from tuning.



Because you just implied that tuning is not enough to satisfy you. So tuning learner will worry about this also.

Anyway try some free classifieds.


I think you misunderstood my comment. I did not say tuning is not enough to satisfy me, I said teaching supliments my income. Anyway, all tuners must sumpliment their income from tuning. No tuner I know only tunes. Some rebuild, some perform.

The idea that a student would worry about the fact that I like teaching and earn extra money doing it doesn't make sense to me. Sorry I didn't get your implication.

BTW, I have found that paid kijiji ads are much more effective for a few extra bucks than the free ones.

Thanks very much for commenting.
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2126736 - 08/02/13 01:35 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Jean Claude]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20749
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Jean Claude
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I think the main issue is that piano tuning is work. It is mentally exhausting and maybe someone might think "wow" piano tuning, I could do that ! Then they get into it and it's not for them.

It's not just you or your field it's just the way it is these days. I bet if you took a poll on what people want to do even if they were unemployed the results would scare you. It doesn't matter if there are promises of big pay checks or not. Work ethic is about as rare as seeing Jimmy Hoffa & Elvis at the local diner


Oddly enough, I had dinner this evening with Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa. Elvis admitted that he had considered a career as a piano tuner but felt that his tone-deafness would be a drawback. Hoffa thought that a tuner was 'some kinda fish' then wandered off to chat with JFK who also happened to be in the restaurant. I think you'll have to look elsewhere for students.

J-C.


If you think Elvis was tone deaf, perhaps you should take this course. Having spent decades honing my sense of pitch, I have come to admire just how good Elvis's was.
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Semipro Tech

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#2126766 - 08/02/13 02:46 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: BDB]
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 344
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: BDB
Originally Posted By: Jean Claude
Originally Posted By: Nash. Piano Rescue
I think the main issue is that piano tuning is work. It is mentally exhausting and maybe someone might think "wow" piano tuning, I could do that ! Then they get into it and it's not for them.

It's not just you or your field it's just the way it is these days. I bet if you took a poll on what people want to do even if they were unemployed the results would scare you. It doesn't matter if there are promises of big pay checks or not. Work ethic is about as rare as seeing Jimmy Hoffa & Elvis at the local diner


Oddly enough, I had dinner this evening with Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa. Elvis admitted that he had considered a career as a piano tuner but felt that his tone-deafness would be a drawback. Hoffa thought that a tuner was 'some kinda fish' then wandered off to chat with JFK who also happened to be in the restaurant. I think you'll have to look elsewhere for students.

J-C.


If you think Elvis was tone deaf, perhaps you should take this course. Having spent decades honing my sense of pitch, I have come to admire just how good Elvis's was.


I quite agree that Elvis's sense of pitch was sublime, as indeed was his phrasing, particularly in the early part of his career. My comment was not intended to be taken entirely seriously.

As far as attending one of Mr Cerisano's courses, I should be delighted but unhappily the distance between Angoulême and Montreal is too great to make this a practical proposition.

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#2126837 - 08/02/13 08:47 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 6066
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Anyway, all tuners must sumpliment their income from tuning. No tuner I know only tunes. Some rebuild, some perform.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I don't believe this for a second.

If true, it would explain why it would be foolish to go into the profession.
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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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#2126855 - 08/02/13 09:45 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8069
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Anyway, all tuners must sumpliment their income from tuning. No tuner I know only tunes. Some rebuild, some perform.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I don't believe this for a second.

If true, it would explain why it would be foolish to go into the profession.

There are plenty of full time piano technicians who make their living tuning and servicing pianos. Perhaps Mr. Cerisano hasn't been around here long enough to get to know some of the other techs here.

On the other hand, when talking to our local RPT about going into the piano tuning business, he suggested that I keep my day job. smile

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#2126981 - 08/02/13 02:32 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3789
The key to success is to focus on it one thing, and nothing else. Tuning pianos and running a teaching school at the same time pretty much splits your resources between two ventures... While related, they are different ventures. There is no focus. I suggest that you pick one - and focus on it - or find a partner to cover one while you focus on the other.
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#2127451 - 08/03/13 12:38 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Joe Muscara Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/10
Posts: 31
Loc: Houston
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
learntotunepianos.wordpress.com
This link didn't work for me and I don't see any obvious errors.

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#2128389 - 08/05/13 09:10 AM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Joe Muscara]
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
learntotunepianos.wordpress.com
This link didn't work for me and I don't see any obvious errors.


Sorry Joe, I gave you the wrong link. The correct one is
http://howtotunepianos.wordpress.com



Edited by Mark Cerisano, RPT (08/05/13 09:10 AM)
_________________________
Mark Cerisano, RPT
www.howtotunepianos.com

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#2128715 - 08/05/13 11:25 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Joe Muscara Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/10
Posts: 31
Loc: Houston
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
Originally Posted By: Joe Muscara
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
learntotunepianos.wordpress.com
This link didn't work for me and I don't see any obvious errors.


Sorry Joe, I gave you the wrong link. The correct one is
http://howtotunepianos.wordpress.com

Thanks for the corrected link. I'm looking forward to reading this site!

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#2130554 - 08/09/13 10:46 PM Re: Your opinion on learning to tune pianos, please [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Retsacnal Offline

Platinum Supporter until Feb 18  2015


Registered: 10/11/12
Posts: 319
Loc: Northern Virgina
An updated website might help. Yours looks pretty dated.
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