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#615959 - 02/09/07 03:19 PM Recommendation for tuning study
Gingerbaker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 7
Hello all,

I started piano lessons last year and progressing well beyond my expectations. For those interested I'm 40.

I have been told by 2 teachers and 2 tuners I have excellent hearing and pitch. They both say I shoud get into tuning and reapir. I'm unemployed now and was unemployed last year for 6 months. (lots of practice time)

My question is, what is the best path for learning on my own?

What courses are the best? Money doesn't matter.

What tools are the finest on the market?

I'm looking to do this mainly as a ministry for local churches. I buy pianos and donate them to less fortunate families who have children that would like to learn. It would be nice to give them pianos in tune and working properly.

Ginger

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#615960 - 02/09/07 04:18 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Polka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 80
Loc: San Jose, CA, USA
_________________________
Amateur Pianist * Piano Teacher * Part-time Tuner

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#615961 - 02/09/07 04:25 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Gingerbaker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 7
I have seen these sites allready.

I guess I'm looking for replies from people who have used one or another.

Ginger

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#615962 - 02/09/07 04:34 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Polka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 80
Loc: San Jose, CA, USA
American School of Piano Tuning and Randy Potter School were the two I was choosing from. American School would get you on a little faster; Potter school covers more details. I chose American School because I had some experiences before and needed to work on some pianos soon. Besides, I believe the learning process is an on-going effort, so after I finish all the lessons, I'll still be searching for learning opportunities, maybe seminars, conventions, and mentors.
_________________________
Amateur Pianist * Piano Teacher * Part-time Tuner

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#615963 - 02/09/07 05:59 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Norma J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Canada
Hi Ginger,

I have taken the Randy Potter course and I do recommend it. Randy supplies a wealth of information both on paper (the course material and numerous books that are included) and the videos or dvd'd. Also included is an upright action model, basic tools, spare parts, manufacturer info and service manuals, and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember.

In conjunction with the course I highly recommend that you find a good mentor. While this is a good course, and Randy is available for help, some things just can't be learned simply by reading, watching a video or practicing on your own. I also suggest that if you're serious about it, get a decent tuning hammer soon after starting.

Hope this helps,
Norma
_________________________
Piano Tuner/Technician

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#615964 - 02/09/07 06:42 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Gingerbaker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 7
Hi Norma J,
the problem for me in this area, Pottstown PA, is no tuner wants an apprentice for fear of taking business from them. Just talking about it makes them nervous. It's like I'm taking their child from them. They make it sound like a secret society and the only way in is 10 years at MIT and you start at 20 years old. I have allready tweaked my Yamaha C between tunings to fix bleating notes. I think the one tuner I had felt threatened because I was pointing out noise and rattles to him on a brand new rented Kawai, yes it was a cheap piano, $3800. He said to get a good piano because my hearing was too good.

Sorry to ramble, I will check out Randy Potter.

Who makes a good hammer?

Ginger

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#615965 - 02/09/07 07:28 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Ron Alexander Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/17/03
Posts: 1292
Loc: North Carolina
Ginger, in my humble opinion, your best bet is the Randy Potter course. But let me strongly, very strongly urge you to join a PTG (Piano Technicians Guild) chapter as an associate. I would bet the nearest chapter to you is in Philly, but the travel time would be well worth the effort. Piano technology is a life long learning process, and with even the best ears it takes years of practice, and many many many pianos to learn to tune to a professional level.

Many people who get into this business seem to become "settled" with what they can do, and the learning process almost completely ends. That is why some tuners feel threatened when they meet someone who has the ability and desire to learn piano technology.

Good Luck to you!!

Ron Alexander
Piano Technician
_________________________
-----------------
Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician

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#615966 - 02/09/07 08:28 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Norma J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Canada
Ginger,
It's unfortunate that your local techs aren't more supportive, I have found most technicians to be quite the opposite. I agree with Ron in urging you to join the PTG. It's a good organization with lots of support and tremendous learning opportunites. As a few have already stated, piano technology really is a constant leaning process.

About that hammer - once you join the PTG and go to few meetings, seminars, or a convention and meet some techs, they will likely let you try their hammer(s) and you'll get a feel for what you like.

Best regards,
Norma
_________________________
Piano Tuner/Technician

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#615967 - 02/09/07 09:05 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
Ginger, finding a local mentor is a required part of the Randy Potter course (which I am in the midst of). I think if you study the course for a few months and start going to local PTG meetings you will eventually find someone willing to take you on (perhaps someone close to retirement), but they may need time to take you seriously as a peer.
If money is no object and you have an aptitude for this kind of work, you have everything going for you. And you're only 40! Best of luck.
Anne
_________________________
Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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#615968 - 02/09/07 09:06 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
Ginger, finding a local mentor is a required part of the Randy Potter course (which I am in the midst of). I think if you study the course for a few months and start going to local PTG meetings you will eventually find someone willing to take you on (perhaps someone close to retirement), but they may need time to take you seriously as a peer.
If money is no object and you have an aptitude for this kind of work, you have everything going for you. And you're only 40! Best of luck.
Anne
_________________________
Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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#615969 - 02/09/07 09:08 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
Sorry, didn't mean to hit reply twice.
_________________________
Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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#615970 - 02/10/07 02:56 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1579
Loc: Chicagoland
Ginger,

I like the Fujan tuning lever a lot... I have the origional, but I'm thinking about the carbon fiber one next. I carry three levers, kindof like golf, each one for different situations!

There's nothing like "hands on" - do you have the time to go to the Chicago School, or North Benet Street? That would be my first choice beyond any mail-order type. There is a PTG national convention every summer with lots of info - and regionals more often.

Oh, and if you've got the money, buy a Verituner now, either the box, or the version for pocket pc. With a little set-up, you can start with the targets for stellar tunings and really focus on hammer technique and stability.

Ron Koval
Chicagoland
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#615971 - 02/10/07 05:50 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Gingerbaker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 7
Hello Ron,
I'm doing this just to get donated pianos working and sounding as good as possible. It's not to have a business. To me the actions of pianos is a very simple mechanical device, crude really, but effective. My background is engineering and fabrication. The tuning part will take more work.

I don't have time to travel or attend school. I cannot learn in regular institutions. I am self taught on everything just by doing. I have a serious learning disability. When it comes to piano lessons I interpret what the teacher wants then I figure it out on my own. I am autodidactic.
Mark Twain said, "I never let school interfere with my education."

I'm rambling again, thanks for the Verituner info. I will look into it.

Ginger

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#615972 - 02/10/07 08:53 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1579
Loc: Chicagoland
Tuning's a snap if you take a modern approach...

If you can touch-up unisons, you've pretty much got all the aural skills you will ever need - using the Verituner. If you do get one, there's a forum on the VT site to ask any questions specific to the machine.
_________________________
Piano/instrument technician
www.ronkoval.com
@ronkoval

my piano videos:
http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=drwoodwind


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#615973 - 02/11/07 12:04 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Jerry Cohen, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/05
Posts: 80
Loc: New Jersey
Gingerbaker,

There is an excellent PTG Regional convention coming up in Valley Forge, PA from April 19 - 22. See http://www.ptgmarc.org

Randy Potter as well as representative from other schools are there. You can talk to them as long as you like. If you explain your personal needs, they have heard it all and give you advice.

The classes are excellent and range from beginner to advanced.

Hope to see you there.
_________________________
Jerry Cohen, RPT
Piano Craftsman offering, concert tuning, voicing, regulating, rebuilding.
Serving Northern New Jersey area.

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#615974 - 02/23/07 11:33 AM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
The PTG is all about developing our craft:
http://ptg.org/becomingATech.php

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#615975 - 03/02/07 08:29 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
showard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 122
Loc: Hortonville, Wisconsin
I had recently decided to take the Randy Potter Course and after reading Anne Francis's post about an appreticeship being required as part of the course I was a little concerned. I didn't want to come across a situation where I wasn't able to get into an apprenticeship. I called and asked Randy about it and he said it is not a requirement, but just a recommendation. He asked me to correct this information here. The course is on it's way to me and I should receive it early next week.

I'm finally going to have time to do the studying required for this as I just left my day job this past week to devote all of my time to piano studying and doing piano work. I'm a little nervous about depending on piano work for all my income, but my business has been steadily growing and because I try and depend on God for providing for my needs, I can see that He is blessing my business and efforts at growing my business.
_________________________
Steve Howard
Piano Technician
Howard Piano Industries
www.howardpianoindustries.com

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#615976 - 03/02/07 09:05 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Jim Puckett Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/06
Posts: 251
Loc: Lubbock, Texas
I have gone through the Potter course - at first thought I would have said the same as Anne - Randy says that you need to become an apprentice. At further thought - beyond saying that it is necessary to become a competent technician - there is actually no follow up for grade or graduation.

The strength and weakness of the course is the fact that you can work the system. If you want a diploma on the wall - you can get it - if you want to be good at your craft - you can get that also - if you pursue it. It takes work, study, practice, help and experience. This is not a course where you go through the lessons - then you're done and fully competent. A correspondence course - no matter how good - is only going to get you so far in such a "hands on" field. The PTG meetings and a mentor gives you the opportunity to have a real person watch what you are actually doing and help guide you.

I am told that many experienced technicians still purchase the Potter Course for the detailed training in regulation. I am also told that the Business Practices portion of the course is the best out there....
As a practitioner in the trade - you will probably go back to the course material again and again as you face real situations for the first time in the field. I even bought a DVD player and a small TV and put in my shop so I could review demonstrations when I am doing something I haven't done for awhile (or never - outside of the course). The quality control is up to you - the student.
_________________________
Jim Puckett
Greater Lubbock Piano Care
PTG Assoc Member
www.greaterlubbockpianocare.com

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#615977 - 03/03/07 03:22 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
I stand corrected--I thought it was required. Now I find myself working more or less full-time in a rebuilding shop with my mentor and not having any time for the course at all! Which is ok, though I would like to get the diploma. It's been more than 18 months since I started. I recall that the outside limit for completing the course (if I'm not mistaken, which appears quite likely) is 2 years, so I'd best get on with it.

Jim, you did mention once about advertising your services at a "training rate" in order to have access to many pianos to tune, to fulfil what you called the "lab" portion of the course. Can you remind me where this is in the course, and how many pianos do you have to tune to graduate?

Thanks,
Anne
_________________________
Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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#615978 - 03/04/07 10:39 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Jim Puckett Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/06
Posts: 251
Loc: Lubbock, Texas
The "lab" portion of the course is not a required number of pianos. There are the written tests and the recorded tuning tests. From there it is just emphasized over and over that you apprentice and get as much experience as you can.

At second thought - I believe that there was the requirement that you do so many practice tunings between tests. I recall there being something like (on 10 seperate days) etc.

The "training rate" was my own variation of Randy's business start up story.

The idea is this - Instead of facing the fear and uncertainty of tuning for pay and not being prepared, I sent out a letter to enlist people as my "practice customers". People who will like you enough to support your efforts - but distant enough to be willing to pay. I offered a rate lower than my present rate - and I offered a 2 for 1. They payed for the tuning on the first visit. I returned in two months to tune again. This gave me a chance to see how my tuning stability was - and I tuned again with the improvement of my skills across those two months. I got to see a lot more pianos than the ones I was practicing on. This helped me develop my business skills too (forms, talking with customers, being careful in their home etc). After the second visit - I have retained 100% of my practice customers as full rate clients.

Another difference was that I just told people right up front that I was a student. If someone didn't take my offer - that was ok - I understand. But some people like the concept of "getting a deal". Like the folks who get their hair cut or their car worked on at the county vocational school. they know that they are patronizing a student business. That's at least more honest than when you go into a hospital and get a 1st year intern working on you!
_________________________
Jim Puckett
Greater Lubbock Piano Care
PTG Assoc Member
www.greaterlubbockpianocare.com

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#615979 - 03/05/07 07:23 PM Re: Recommendation for tuning study
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 548
Loc: Toronto, ON
Jim, you're an inspiration! It's a great idea. I just wasn't sure how much of it was yours and how much of it was the course. My mentor/boss has told me that in a few months he'll be ready to send me out on "uncomplicated" tunings, at a student rate. So I'll be able to get a similar kind of experience. (At that point I will also start on my list of friends who are waiting for me to be "ready" to tune their pianos.)
_________________________
Anne Francis
PTG Associate Member

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

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