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#2199185 - 12/17/13 03:13 PM How to Learn to Tune Pianos
Mark Cerisano, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 2783
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Well, this post could be called "How to NOT Learn to Tune Pianos"!

Full disclosure: I am a Registered Piano Tuner, and I teach piano tuning, both in person, and online through Skype and Google Hangout.

I have been doing this for a while. I love teaching and thought, "Wow, the internet might just be the way to get my name out there and build a good following of loyal people searching for information and tips on how to effectively and efficiently learn to tune pianos."

With my seven years of experience teaching piano tuning and also my background in engineering, teaching high school, and professional playing experience, along with the many positive reviews I've received, I thought this would be a great business to start.

Also, I've found that the internet is full of people searching for information on how to tune pianos. These forums have hundreds of posts with different tips and suggestions on how to tune pianos, and I have responded to a great many.

However, under each post is my signature, (which is attached to this post as well) with links to my websites that include information on learning how to tune pianos, and also my courses webpage, http://mrtuner.com/courses.htm, and I have received virtually no interest or inquiries on the subject or the courses.

So, I am totally confused.

This leaves me to believe that, one, the vast majority of people interested in this subject are trying to learn this skill on their own. Or two, this is just a bad idea. And I've persued enough bad business ideas and I don't need anymore experience with that, thank you very much.

That is why I've created this post; to get feedback on what others think about this situation.

I am concerned for a number of reasons, that individuals are trying to learn this skill on their own. Here are some of them:

1) Obviously, it is a difficult skill to learn on your own, and personal guidance is required for any performance task/art that one wants to learn. Most musicians understand this.

But also, there are other serious reasons why a person is making a big mistake (IMHO) if they are trying to do this without any personalized instruction.

2) Money.

This is a skill that could create another opportunity for someone to make a few extra dollars. That means the students are training to provide a skill. Without proper guidance, they are risking learning bad habits, which will translate into bad service.

Also, as a potential revenue generating skill, the cost of the course should not be a consideration.

3) The current state of piano tuning information on the internet.

The internet is full of awful, incorrect, and sadly misguided instruction on how to tune a piano. From people hawking cheap chromatic tuners with no stretch, to one professional looking website with an online testimonial by a so-called "graduate" of the program, who is actually the owner of the course!

Even well known and regarded correspondance courses that teach antiquated and out dated techniques, as well as techniques that were never considered efficient or effective.

How many unsuspecting individuals are spending money and time trying to learn from these static sources (reading, videos, etc) and ending up more confused than before, with no apparent advancement in technique or skill.

It is my opinion that this field, the field of piano training, because it is small, and there is no obvious way to learn it, has created a far too large selection of incorrect and dishonest sources of information, and students are believing, possibly because of the lack of live teachers, that this is the preferred way to teach the skill.

Or, nobody really cares about learning this skill at all.

So, what is it? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Should I do as my wife says and quit piano tuning and go back to engineering? (That'll never happen, but you're free to suggest it.)

Anyway, I've done this before; pleaded to this community for insight; and received some invaluable and insightful responses, so I am doing it again.

I'm insterested in everyone's opinion, not just piano tuners or musicians.

Thank you, in advance, for your time.
Mark Cerisano, RPT

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#2199466 - 12/17/13 11:58 PM Re: How to Learn to Tune Pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1964
I dunno. I think the answer probably is that most people--the vast majority of piano-owning people--don't care if their piano is well-tuned or not. They don't play it and it's a piece of furniture, or, they don't play it often enough to care more than being vaguely annoyed they forgot to simply schedule someone like you to have come to have done the job, or they simply don't play it well enough to know the difference. None of these people are candidates for learning how to tune a piano.

That leaves you with a much smaller group of candidates. But here your problem is different: Among those that do care for a well-tuned piano and have reason for it, they know enough to trust the job to a professional because they are adequately aware of the complicated nature of piano tuning and are appropriately respectful of the time it takes to gain proficiency in the skill. Playing the piano itself is a time-consuming activity. Someone who plays it well enough to have the inherent interest to learn how to tune their own piano is probably someone who spends quite a LOT of time playing piano, leaving even less time and opportunity to learn how to tune.

Which leaves you with this person: someone objectively and independently interested in the art of tuning pianos to warrant the time it would take to learn it well, either as a hobbyist or as a career move. Maybe there are hobbyists who don't really pay piano and aren't interested in primarily using the skill to tune their own piano so that they can then play on it, but my guess is the hobbyist is someone who wants it as a personal skill for themselves--someone we've already determined probably has most of their hobby time occupied by PLAYING piano. Very few of them will have enough inherent interest in the tuning side of it to have time to be with a piano and yet not spend that time playing it. I submit there are a few, but not many. Which leaves you with: People Who Want To Be Career Piano Tuners. And as interesting and necessary as such a thing is, the unfortunate truth is that it's probably a disappointingly small market.

I'm both interested in pianos, the technology behind them, and even the math and science of acoustics. I'm FASCINATED every time my piano tuner comes. I'm the kind of person who will, now and again, watch a youtube video on hearing differences in temperments or read something on the logarithms of frequencies or this or that thing on unisons and hearing beats, and then briefly entertain the thought of building on that interest, but then I just mostly feel motivated to...go practice piano for a while.

I am in awe of what you do. It's probably exactly why I wouldn't dare try it out myself as a hobby, which it would have to be since between my current career and my time-sucking hobby of actually trying to PLAY the piano, I sadly have no time to learn the art of piano tuning!

#2199476 - 12/18/13 12:44 AM Re: How to Learn to Tune Pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
Whizbang Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 1439
Originally Posted By: Mark Cerisano, RPT
So, what is it? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Should I do as my wife says and quit piano tuning and go back to engineering? (That'll never happen, but you're free to suggest it.)

Anyway, I've done this before; pleaded to this community for insight; and received some invaluable and insightful responses, so I am doing it again.

I'm insterested in everyone's opinion, not just piano tuners or musicians.

This ABF forum isn't the right forum. I really never ever see these types of requests here.

I do see them on the other forum I read (PM me), but they're infrequent. Still, you'll be at the mercy of 1) folks with limited funds (as we all are nowadays) 2) geographic limitations.

For my part, engineer to engineer, I pay piano professionals like you gladly and don't regret a cent. I know how my piano works and thus would never set myself loose on it.
amateur ragtime pianist

#2199484 - 12/18/13 01:24 AM Re: How to Learn to Tune Pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 14104
Loc: Canada
This post has appeared on three forums so far: teachers, tech, and here. The tech forum mentions another person who does this work, and when I looked this up, there was a site which was well put together, easy to navigate, and it inspired confidence. You may want to have a professional look at your site and advise you. If I wanted to learn piano tuning, the way it appears right now would not make me want to sign on. Dunno.

#2199494 - 12/18/13 01:56 AM Re: How to Learn to Tune Pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014

Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 1484
Loc: Italy
I agree with keystring, mrtuner.com needs a makeover. You might want to transfer all the information on your other site, howtotunepianos.com which looks much better.

You know, I would really love to learn how to tune pianos, but not as a potential career. And to be honest I wouldn't pay $800 for that. I'm sure your course is worth it and all, but it's just too much money for a hobby. $40 per hour would be okay for a 1-to-1 course (for which you charge three times that!!), but it's too much for a group lesson. Just my opinion!

You might want to propose shorter, cheaper courses for amateurs, who may well get hooked and continue with more expensive courses later.
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

#2199635 - 12/18/13 10:32 AM Re: How to Learn to Tune Pianos [Re: Mark Cerisano, RPT]
BB Player Offline

Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2919
Loc: Not in Texas
I think enough advertising in the form of market research has taken place both here and elsewhere on Piano World. Thread closed.


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